“[We] have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it….”
Those infamous words were spoken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010.
She was talking about the Affordable Care Act back then. But it’s a statement that could just as easily be about H.R. 1, or the “For the People Act.” The House of Representatives recently voted to pass this legislation, and the Senate is anticipating a vote on it in the coming weeks.
Here’s what we do know about this nearly 800-page bill: H.R. 1 tramples on the free speech and free association rights of everyday Americans.
As if that weren’t alarming enough, the bill’s text is so complex and convoluted that it’s difficult to predict exactly how it will be interpreted. In fact, it’s possible we’re understating the restrictions it would place on our constitutional freedoms.
H.R. 1 Is a Threat to Your Freedom
The deceptively named “For the People Act” is anything but “for the people.”
In fact, H.R. 1 would place invasive regulations on free speech, limiting the ability of Americans to discuss important policy issues with elected officials or the public. By expanding the definition of “political speech,” this bill would give government officials greater power to silence the speech with which they disagree.
H.R. 1 would also intrude into the private financial decisions of Americans. If passed, this legislation would force many nonprofit organizations to disclose the personal information of their supporters. And Americans will have to live in constant fear that they will be harassed, intimidated, or worse because of the causes they support.
No one should fear punishment for speaking or advocating for causes they believe in—especially not here in America. But that is exactly what H.R. 1 threatens to do.
What H.R. 1 Has to Do With This Supreme Court Case
We have a rich history of protecting private speech and association in America. And for good reason.
Opponents of freedom have long tried to punish those who express ideas they disagree with.
Take our Founding Fathers for example. To keep themselves and their families safe, they used pen names to advocate for independence from Great Britain—a stand that could have cost them their lives.
Nearly 200 years later, in NAACP v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the State of Alabama from demanding the supporter list of the NAACP. Releasing those names could have compromised their safety in the Jim Crow South.
Unfortunately, privacy in financial giving continues to come under attack.
California started requiring charities to hand over their major donor lists to the government. Thomas More Law Center, a legal nonprofit that promotes faith and family values, challenged this regulation. And Alliance Defending Freedom is representing TMLC before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, H.R. 1 takes this California disclosure policy even further.
But if the Thomas More Law Center case is any indication, that’s not a popular move for the Biden administration. Groups across the ideological spectrum have submitted more than 40 friend-of-the-court briefs to the Supreme Court in favor of ensuring that Americans remain free to support nonprofit organizations and their causes without fear of harassment or threats.
Please join us in praying that both the Supreme Court and our elected officials stand up “for the people” and reject any efforts to restrict our constitutional freedoms.
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