by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
It is called the “For the People Act of 2021.” It’s anything but. Passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 220 to 210, with no Republican support, H.R. 1 is raising alarm bells on a variety of fronts. At the Locke Foundation, we’re encouraging every North Carolinian to get informed and be aware of the threat to fundamental rights this bill poses. The integrity of our elections, donor privacy, and much more are at stake.
On March 15 we hosted a Shaftesbury Society virtual discussion on H.R. 1. Locke’s Senior Fellow in Legal Studies, Jon Guze, shared his concerns.
Jon is an attorney who is particularly interested in the ugly history attached to Democratic efforts to force nonprofit groups to disclose the names of their donors. That requirement is part of H.R. 1. This isn’t a new push. In fact, Democratic efforts on this front can be traced back to the 1950s and a case involving the NAACP. Jon explains in his piece published at foxnews.com.
From Virginia to Florida and from North Carolina to Texas, Democratic state attorneys general and Democratic state lawmakers demanded that the civil rights organization divulge its supporters’ names as a condition for operating within their states. They assumed many supporters would withdraw their support if doing so meant risking reprisals from segregationists, and they were right. Between 1955 and 1957, the civil rights organization’s southern membership declined by more than 50 percent.
Rather than allow the Democrats to run it out of the state, the NAACP’s Alabama affiliate challenged the disclosure requirement in federal court, and in 1958 it won a decisive victory.
The NAACP won its case, but the ruling was narrow. Jon explains that the narrow ruling gives today’s Democrats their opening to trample over the right to donate privately.
Last week—on a party line vote—the Democrats in the U. S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1, making donor disclosure a national requirement under federal law.
If H.R. 1 becomes law, the impact will wide and long-term. In addition to requiring that donor names be made public, H.R. 1 essentially federalizes elections; no longer will states control the rules. North Carolina Congressman David Rouzer, a Republican who represents our state’s 7th congressional district, voted ‘no’ on H.R. 1. He joined the forum to discuss his concerns.
H.R. 1 now sits in the U.S. Senate. If election integrity is important to you – and we know it is based on the latest Civitas Poll – this is a key Democratic Party effort to keep your eye on. You can count on the Locke Foundation to do just that.