DownsizeDC.org
March 28, 2012
The Read the Bills Act Protects Your Rights
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "The issue of vagueness is at the heart of the NDAA scandal... While the NDAA poses a threat to your 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights, the newest attack of vague language is aimed at your 1st Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom to Petition." - Gene Howington

DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills Act (RTBA) is a powerful lever that would slow the growth and power of government. Congress would be restrained from passing gargantuan bills that bust the federal budget and strangle the economy.

But it does more than that. It will help prevent the passage of confusing, vaguely-worded laws that endanger your rights. Indeed, recently Congress passed a seemingly mundane, 2-page bill that threatens your right to freedom of assembly.

That's why I wrote the following letter telling my representatives to introduce the Read the Bills Act.

Please send a letter as well. You may borrow from or copy these personal comments...

The Read the Bills Act...

* Requires the final version of bills to be posted seven days in advance of the vote on passage.
* Compels members of Congress voting for a bill to sign a statement swearing they have read the bill.

Understanding bills is important. That's why the RTBA requires that a bill which amends a current law must include the text of the relevant section of that law. That way, you KNOW exactly what is being amended.

Also, the RTBA's requirements give the public and members of Congress time to seek clarification or revision of confusing legislative language.

This is crucial. Consider sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act passed last December. When it was passed, many in Congress apparently did not believe it authorized the President to kidnap American citizens. This proves they did not understand the bill.

Another example is HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act which recently became law.

Members of Congress were told that it was a common-sense bill that would make, for example, trespassing on the White House lawn a federal offense rather than a violation of a city ordinance.

* HR 347 passed 389-3, and nobody spoke out against it on the floor as it was coming up for a vote (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2012-02-27/pdf/CREC-2012-02-27.pdf).
* The Senate used their "Unanimous Consent"  (http://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/unanimous_consent.htm) rule to pass it, meaning no roll call vote, and we do not know which Senators were present or even had knowledge of the bill.

But HR 347 does much more than what you were told. Rep. Justin Amash notes that through a subtle change in language, HR 347 "expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal." (http://bit.ly/yHEhxI)

This means peaceful protestors at a party convention or ANY OTHER PLACE (such as a sporting event) might be rounded up and prosecuted if someone with Secret Service protection is nearby.

Did you intend for this assault on the First Amendment?

Or did you not UNDERSTAND what HR 347 really does?

If the Read the Bills Act was in force, might not you have heard of concerns about HR 347 BEFORE it was passed, instead of after?

You must amend HR 347 to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is preserved.

And you must pass the Read the Bills Act to prevent Congress from repeating such rights-threatening mistakes.

If you don't, I will have to conclude that violating our rights was your intention all along.

END LETTER

You can send your letter using DownsizeDC.org's Educate the Powerful System.

As a service, DownsizeDC.org is compiling a list of bills that passed this year, as well as reporting on their length. You can see the bills passed...

* In January 
* And February

James Wilson
Policy Research Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. Remember, Downsize DC President, Jim Babka, will be guest hosting a radio show today, with guest Karen Kwiatkowski. Details were provided in yesterday's Dispatch, available at our blog.

ALSO, Jim Babka will be a speaker, this Saturday afternoon, March 31, at the Libertarian Party of Ohio convention. Some tickets are still available, but they're nearly gone. Other speakers at this event in Worthington, Ohio include former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of Reason. Details can be found at www.LPO.org.

Blog commenting is currently under construction. In the meantime, you can send an email if there's something you'd like to tell us.

What Can We Do For You?

We can help you downsize the federal government, if you want that. All you have to do is join. It's free! In return...

We'll give you an army.

We're recruiting a huge army of supporters to work for what you want.

We'll give you influence.

The Downsize DC Army will exert relentless, resistance-numbing pressure on Congress.

We'll make your voice heard.

We'll use our growing army to make your beliefs heard by everyone, everywhere, every day.

We'll give you winning strategies.

Ideas like our "Read the Bills Act" and the "One Subject at a Time Act" will give you the leverage to win the public debate, control Congress, and Downsize DC!

We'll give you powerful tools.

  • Your free membership includes a subscription to our free email newsletter, the Consent Chronicle, which national talk show host Jerry Hughes calls by far the best newsletter he receives.
  • You'll be able to use our Educate the Powerful SystemSM to pressure Congress. It's easy. All it takes is a few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes. You can do it in your bathrobe while you're drinking your morning coffee, or during a break at work.
  • You'll also gain access to our 16-page strategy document, "The Downsize DC Vision." You'll learn about important insights like "ignoring an axiom," and powerful strategies like "picking off the herd." One reader called this document "the unified field theory" of political change.

To gain these benefits, just enter your email address in the box below and hit Subscribe!

Subscribe to the Consent Chronicle
Enter your email address twice: