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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
19 July 2000 Issue

Stealth Attack on First Amendment Poised to Slip Through Congress

WASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2000) -- A blatant assault on freedom of speech is on the verge of being enacted by the U.S. Congress, hidden in a bill dealing with financial management issues in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

On Wednesday, July 19, the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Drinking Water of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works will hold hearings on S. 2609, "The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act of 2000." One little-noted provision of this bill bars any organization that opposes or encourages opposition to "the regulated hunting or trapping of wildlife" from receiving a grant under one of FWS' most widely used programs.

Heidi Prescott, national director of The Fund for Animals, said, "This bill would deny a federal benefit solely on the basis of the applicant's exercise of first amendment rights. It's a threat to our most fundamental freedoms."

Christine Wolf, director of government and international affairs for The Fund for Animals, added, "It's not just the right to oppose sport hunting and fur trapping that's at stake here. It's the right of all Americans to speak out on any political issue without having the enormous coercive power of the federal government turned on them."

Founded in 1967 by author and social critic Cleveland Amory, The Fund for Animals is one of the nation's largest and most active animal protection organizations. The Fund has applied for grants from the FWS, and has been rejected because its proposals were "not consistent with the mission or the intent of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act."

The public interest law firm of Meyer and Glitzenstein has analyzed S. 2609's companion bill, H.R. 3671, which passed the House with similar language, and determined that it was clearly unconstitutional. A copy of this constitutional analysis is available by calling 301-585-2591.
Source: Michael Markarian <mmarkarian@fund.org>

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