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PROTECT FREE SPEECH AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: OPPOSE THE CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM PROPOSAL For American democracy to remain vital, the First Amendment rights of candidates, their supporters and voters to voice their views without restriction must be protected. The campaign finance reform proposal pending in Congress threatens to curtail the quantity and depth of discussion of political and electoral issues, as well as the size of the audiences reached by penalizing those candidates and their supporters who speak too much. Moreover, the legislation would institute a public financing scheme that discriminates against non-major party candidates, no matter what level of support they attract from voters, by affording them half the benefits given to major party candidates. The ACLU supports the idea of public financing as a means of opening the political process to more candidates. However the government may not use its economic power to censor the speech of others. For this reason the Supreme Court has ruled that government may not set spending limits for political candidates or citizens who independently spend money to support or oppose candidates. While the pending legislation purports to set "voluntary" spending limits, those who decide not to abide by the limits are subjected to a series of penalties and preferences for their opponents. The bill also imposes unconstitutional burdens on independent expenditures, including a requirement that citizens who send letters supporting or opposing a federal candidate, including letters to the editor, file copies of the letters with the Federal Election Commission. Write or call your Members of Congress. Urge them to oppose pending campaign reform proposals because they could restrict your political participation. If meaningful campaign reform is to be enacted, it must be consistent with constitutional requirements. ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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