(Paul Jacob/Citizens in Charge) – Sometimes politicians name their legislation the better to hide what they are trying to do. The name fails to disclose, you might say.
Consider the so-called DISCLOSE Act, which just passed the House of Representatives by a mostly party-line vote of 219-206 and is now awaiting action in the Senate. The full name of the monstrosity is the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act. It should be called the Democracy Is Undermined by Rigging the Game to Favor Incumbents and Especially Democrats Act.
The goal is to hamper political advertising by independent groups and corporations by requiring disclosure of the names of contributors who give above $600 a year. The new rules would harm corporations more than unions, and would foist anew some of the same burdens on First Amendment rights just overturned by the Supreme Court. The same court that threw out chunks of McCain-Feingold on free speech grounds would also likely find DISCLOSE unconstitutional.
But could the court do so before the 2010 elections? Democrats like Hank Johnson ― who told fellow partisans that the Act, if passed, would stop Republicans from being elected ― are betting that it can’t. Their hope is that with the speech-shackling new law skewing things in their favor until the high court acts, they’ll be more likely to escape political annihilation in November.
No, we can’t wait for the Supremes on this one. Call your senator.