Don’t encourage Congress to violate First Amendment

Your editorial “Sauce for the Goose” (June 22), excoriating public interest groups for being unwilling to provide their membership lists when they file ethics complaints against lawmakers, ducked the issue and badly fouled the constitutional waters. It joined Congress’s latest attempt to trample on the First Amendment rights of individuals to associate anonymously, now threatened by an inappropriate congressional proposal to require complaint filers to turn over membership lists before seeking an investigation of the ethical misdeeds of members of Congress.

The Supreme Court has held that forced “outings” of the members of ideological and social organizations violates the First Amendment because they may intimidate citizens from participating in the groups and allow others to target them for reprisals. In contrast, the court has found that, as to disclosure by government officials, there is a substantial public interest in preventing corruption that overrides constitutional interests in anonymity.

There is no comparable anti-corruption interest here — merely a goal of intimidating groups and dampening participation in the ethics process. Nor could these groups, as The Hill writes, ever become “part of the government,” as our virtue is independence. These charges of hypocrisy are pure turkey.

~From Laura MacCleery, director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, Washington

Immigration agency ruins people’s lives

Why does it appear that everyone is so narrow-minded to presume all undocumented immigrants broke the law by coming here illegally? There are many, many immigrants who waited years to enter this country legally, have paid Social Security and all taxes (more than citizens for the first three years, as no exemptions or personal allowances can be taken), only to be made undocumented by the incompetent Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS and the new immigration department (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) are a national disgrace and have ruined many people’s lives. Officials who say this country welcomes immigrants need to try dealing with these agencies. I know of many immigrants who came here legally only to return to their country or go to another, disillusioned and disgusted by their experiences with government agencies.

~From A. McCourt, Pleasant Garden, N.C.

Strictly control Pelosi’s travel

(Regarding article, “House Republican wants to restrict Pelosi’s travel,” June 21.) If Pelosi can interfere with foreign policy, which is the president’s domain, the president must logically be authorized to preside as Speaker of the House.

The aircraft assigned to the Speaker for official travel to and from her home district must be strictly controlled. Also she has no need for a really big aircraft. If she breaks the rules, ground her.

~From Wendell A. Kerr, Springfield, Mo.