By adopting Democrats' strategy of attacking so-called dark money groups at this week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, Republican senators are fueling efforts to undermine core First Amendment protections.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, denounced the "role of far-left dark money groups like Demand Justice" in his opening remarks. And he wasn't the only one to do so. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) made vague references to "the most liberal people under the umbrella of Arabella." Prior to the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) criticized the "dark money" being spent to "raise [Jackson's] profile."

Predictably, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.) responded to Republicans' dark money fear mongering by suggesting that they support his legislation to "get rid of it." No one should take the bait.

Whitehouse is a sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that Republicans in Congress, including all those quoted above, have thankfully opposed because it would force advocacy groups to publicly expose the names and addresses of their supporters. In today's polarized political environment, that would be a recipe for disaster. This legislation, which is regularly included in Democratic voting reform proposals, is a direct attack on the First Amendment right to associate privately.

By adopting Democrats' strategy of attacking so-called dark money groups at this week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, Republican senators are fueling efforts to undermine core First Amendment protections.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, denounced the "role of far-left dark money groups like Demand Justice" in his opening remarks. And he wasn't the only one to do so. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) made vague references to "the most liberal people under the umbrella of Arabella." Prior to the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) criticized the "dark money" being spent to "raise [Jackson's] profile."

Predictably, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.) responded to Republicans' dark money fear mongering by suggesting that they support his legislation to "get rid of it." No one should take the bait.

Whitehouse is a sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that Republicans in Congress, including all those quoted above, have thankfully opposed because it would force advocacy groups to publicly expose the names and addresses of their supporters. In today's polarized political environment, that would be a recipe for disaster. This legislation, which is regularly included in Democratic voting reform proposals, is a direct attack on the First Amendment right to associate privately.


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