In a letter sent today to members of Congress, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 challenged the claims by disclosure opponents that campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional violations of First Amendment free speech rights.
The letter documented the fact that since the Citizens United decision in 2010 upholding disclosure laws, courts throughout the country repeatedly have upheld the constitutionality of laws requiring disclosure by outside groups that make expenditures in candidate elections.
According to Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter:
Despite a concerted disinformation campaign by disclosure opponents, there is simply no way to get around the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld disclosure laws by an overwhelming margin. No number of hostile quotes and columns from opponents can obscure the fact that the courts – including the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case – have recognized the importance to voters and to our democracy of transparency of the funding of campaign advertising.
The courts have held that required disclosure of the sources of money for such campaign ads does not violate the First Amendment. It is important that Members of Congress understand the courts’ support of disclosure as Congress considers how to tackle the flood of dark money that is being spent against Republicans and Democrats alike by secret political hit squads seeking to dominate the political system without public accountability.
According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:
The Supreme Court made clear in the Citizens United decision that there is no validity to the claim that disclosure laws covering outside spending groups violate First Amendment free speech rights. Since Citizens United, federal courts throughout the country repeatedly have upheld disclosure laws against a concerted nationwide legal assault to strike them down. The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 have filed amicus briefs defending the disclosure laws in many of these cases and the results represent a major legal success story in the courts for campaign finance disclosure laws.
The numerous court decisions around the country upholding disclosure laws confirm that the courts provide no obstacle to closing the gaping disclosure loopholes that are allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions to be laundered into federal elections. Congress must find a bipartisan path to effective legislation that will put an end to secret money flowing into our elections.
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