The anti-abortion group National Right to Life Committee called a proposed Democratic constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance a "naked attempt" to keep incumbents in office, and urged senators to oppose it.
The group wrote a letter to senators saying it would score the vote on its annual scorecard as one to "restrict and criminalize speech that is critical of their positions and votes on crucial public policy issues, including abortion."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to schedule a vote on the amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and sponsored by more than 40 Democrats. The proposal is almost universally opposed by Republicans and has little chance of passing.
The proposal aims to give Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign finance — including outside spending. It is a reaction to a pair of Supreme Court decisions that loosened regulations on unlimited outside spending and fundraising on federal races.
The group said the amendment would "cut the heart out of the First Amendment” and would allow lawmakers “to prohibit any criticism, direct or indirect, from issue-oriented citizen groups of any ideological stripe," including its own.
The group said the amendment would give authority to regulate every mode of communication. It also blasted a clause in the amendment that explicitly protects the press.
The clause reads: "Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press."
The group derided the distinction between the press and all kinds of speech, saying the clause would give lawmakers the power to determine who qualifies as a member of the press.
"This clause, given the context, actually makes the proposal even worse, because it effectively confers on officeholders the power to define what types of media/entertainment corporations qualify for privileged status as designated “press," according to the group.