A bill to regulate independent political speech raises serious constitutional concerns and poses policy and logistical problems, according to an analysis by the Center for Competitive Politics sent to Iowa legislative leaders.
“This legislation would not enshrine Iowa as a leader in good government, it would give Iowa the dubious distinction of being the first state to openly flout the Supreme Court by passing unconstitutional restrictions on independent political speech,” said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court held that “[T]he First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints or to distinguish among different speakers.” The bill, Senate File 2354, which advanced out of the Iowa Senate’s State Government Committee on an 11-4 vote, would restrict the right of companies to speak out on candidates by micro-managing core political speech.
“The Supreme Court’s decision allowed for disclosure of independent expenditures,” Parnell said. “It did not permit states to throw up a regulatory gauntlet of overly-burdensome shareholder regulations to force companies to run through before they’re allowed to speak out on urgent political issues.”
“This legislation is not meant to protect citizens from harmless independent speech,” he said. “It is meant to stifle the speech of organizations who may oppose powerful incumbents and the politically connected.”