Resolution Supporting the First Amendment in Elections Exposed
The Resolution Supporting the First Amendment in Elections was adopted by ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force on July 17, 2009, and approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on August 27, 2009. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of ALECexposed.org in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.
CMD's Bill Summary
This Resolution demonstrates an extreme approach to "free speech" that ALEC corporations take in regards to political communications. This Resolution is a response to "false statement" laws passed by states to help voters make an informed decision by banning campaign ads that are untrue. Misleading attack ads have proven effectiveness, are difficult to counter, and the presence of lies in the political debate is bad for democracy. This Resolution alleges that defamation laws are sufficient to guard against false speech, but meeting the legal standard of "defamation" is very difficult and would not cover most of the misleading political ads targeted by "false statement" laws.
ALEC Resolution Text
WHEREAS, the First Amendment prohibits the state from punishing speech it disapproves of or disagrees with; and,
WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance the Jeffersonian principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and federalism; and,
WHEREAS, legislation punishing speech chills uninhibited public debate and undermines the very purpose of the First Amendment; and,
WHEREAS, several states have enacted "false statement" laws for political speech that interfere with constitutionally protected speech and establishes the state as arbiter of what can and cannot be said in political campaigns; and,
WHEREAS, free and robust debate cannot thrive if directed by the government; and,
WHEREAS, defamation laws already exist to protect the public from egregiously false statements made in campaigns; and,
WHEREAS, ALEC is an important, influential voice in the promotion of policies true to the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) supports the First Amendment in political speech, and opposes all efforts to chill the speech of citizens through false statements laws.
Approved by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force on July 17, 2009.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on August 27, 2009.