On June 24, 2010, the House considered the so-called "DISCLOSE Act" (H.R. 5175), a bill crafted by Democratic congressional leaders and the Obama White House in response to the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
, handed down on January 21, 2010. In that case, the Supreme Court invalidated certain federal laws and regulations that had prevented an incorporated group called Citizens United from buying TV ads to promote a movie critical of Hillary Clinton while she was running for president. By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of corporations to spend money on ads or other communications that criticize or praise those who hold or seek federal office. The "DISCLOSE Act" is intended to make it as difficult as possible for corporations (including nonprofit, issue-oriented corporations such as NRLC) to spend money to communicate with the public about the actions of federal officeholders, by applying an array of restrictions on ads, as well as requirements that violate the privacy rights of donors. NRLC expressed its strong opposition to the bill in letters sent to members of Congress on May 27, 2010
, and June 15, 2010
. NRLC said that the overriding purpose of the legislation is "to discourage, as much as possible, disfavored groups (such as NRLC) from communicating about officeholders, by exposing citizens who support such efforts to harassment and intimidation, and by smothering organizations in layer on layer of record keeping and reporting requirements, all backed by the threat of civil and criminal sanctions." Nevertheless, the House passed the bill by a vote of 219 to 206. It was supported by 217 Democrats and two Republicans. It was opposed by 36 Democrats and 170 Republicans. (NOTE: Some of the 36 Democrats who voted against the bill were actually in favor of its major purposes, but voted against it because they objected to a provision that had the effect of exempting the National Rifle Association from most of its requirements. Democratic leaders had added this "NRA carve out" in order to diminish opposition to the bill among NRA supporters in the House.) After passage, the bill was sent to the Senate, where Republicans successfully prevented it from receiving final approval. Roll Call No. 391. June 24, 2010.