More than 93 percent of the delegates to the Texas Republican Party’s biennial convention last weekend approved a platform plank protecting the citizens’ First Amendment Rights.
In recent years, Democrats and establishment Republicans have sought to stifle First Amendment rights through campaign finance laws. The Texas GOP’s platform, however, now demands that campaign finance laws focus on the candidates, and not citizens wishing to participate in the political process.
We support full disclosure by political candidates of the amounts and sources of any campaign contributions, whether contributed by individuals, political action committees or other entities. We oppose reporting requirements that infringe on the free-speech rights of citizens. We urge immediate repeal of the McCain- Feingold Act.
Of particular note is the second sentence, opposing “reporting requirements that infringe on the free-speech rights of citizens.”
This language puts the GOP platform at direct odds with the Texas House leadership. In 2015, the House Republican caucus orchestrated a vote to unravel the First Amendment protections of Texans. The legislation passed out of the House with the support of Democrats and a large number of Republicans.
The measure died when the Senate refused to adopt what Gov. Greg Abbott later called the “unconstitutional” language.
The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), has pledged to push in 2017 an amendment to the state’s constitution specifically for the purpose of infringing on the free speech rights of citizens.