National Organization for Marriage Puts Rhode Island’s Election Laws to the Fire

James Madison Center for Free Speech
1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807

Monday, September 27, 2010
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone: 812-232-2434; Fax 812-235-3685

National Organization for Marriage Puts Rhode Island’s Election Laws to the Fire

The National Organization for Marriage (“NOM”) has filed a constitutional challenge in Federal Court to Rhode Island’s Election Laws. NOM seeks to have the ability to be an active participant and voice in the heat of the battles over pressing societal issues, such as the definition of marriage. In Rhode Island, NOM wants to communicate with citizens and spend money to support the advancement of current issues by placing ads on the radio and TV and by posting content to its website. Rhode Island, however, through a series of laws, restricts the ability of groups such as NOM to act as a voice even though the Freedom of Speech clause in the Constitution guarantees this right. NOM knows that such activity is essential to help citizens effectively make correct and informed decisions on these important issues.

Rhode Island law, however, acts like a fire hose by significantly watering down the rights of NOM and similar groups to speak the truth and start fires of accountability under the politicians. Essentially, Rhode Island law squelches any fire, before it even starts, that may expose elected officials’ true nature or positions on relevant societal issues.

Rhode Island law limits the Freedom of Speech by creating line after line of rules that tie groups to the ground in the middle of a forest of laws. Some rules ban certain types of speech while other rules allow NOM to speak, but only after complying with Rhode Island’s extensive regulations. Such rules classify NOM as a “Political Action Committee.” This classification requires the skills of many professionals to ensure perfect compliance with each detail. Failure to perfectly comply brings with it the possibility of criminal penalties and severe fines. No American should have to be subject to such extensive rules in order to voice his or her opinions. Otherwise, the Constitution is meaningless.

NOM seeks to put a stop to the diluting of rights it is experiencing in Rhode Island. As the laws significantly restrain the ability to speak freely, NOM is seeking a judicial declaration of the unconstitutionality of these laws. James Bopp, Jr., the lead attorney representing NOM and head counsel for the James Madison Center, continues to fight for the right to speak. “The right to speak is essential to maintaining a free America,” he states. “Politicians fear when others talk because that is how frauds, incompetents, and hypocrites are exposed. Speech creates accountability, and our leaders have to be accountable to us in order to maintain America as we know it. Not being able to take the heat is simply not a justification for impeding the ability of groups such as NOM to speak on relevant and pressing issues that citizens need to know about.”

The case is titled National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. Daluz, and is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. A copy of the filings are available at the James Madison Center’s website

James Bopp, Jr. has a national campaign finance and election law practice with Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech.