Protecting Our Democracy

“The right to vote is the right from which all others flow and protecting the right to vote today is more critical than it has been for decades. Republicans in state legislatures across the nation are engaged in an all-out assault on our democracy, enacting highly restrictive voter suppression and vote subversion laws designed to disenfranchise voters, particularly Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous voters. Not since the Jim Crow era have we witnessed such brazen efforts to bar people from the ballot box. It’s despicable – and it cannot be allowed to stand. History will judge us by how we meet this moment.” 

– Rep. Adam Schiff

 

Before Rep. Adam Schiff was elected to public office, he was best known for securing the conviction of former FBI agent Richard Miller, who had been trading American national defense secrets to the Soviet Union in exchange for illicit favors. From that case and his work supporting emerging democracies in the post-Soviet bloc, Adam developed a unique and comprehensive vigilance of both the external and internal threats to democratic self-governance – and a sense of duty to protect those values at home. Since then, Adam has introduced, sponsored, and defended legislation to protect the bedrock of American democracy: from safeguarding the right to vote, to ensuring free and fair elections, to preventing those elected to office from abusing their awesome powers. 


 

Protecting the Right to Vote

Across the country, the right to vote is under attack. New state laws are restricting voter registration drives, eliminating same-day voter registration, reducing the early voting period, and requiring photo identification and proof of citizenship to vote – all of which disproportionately impact young, elderly, minority, low-income, and disabled voters. But the rollback of voting rights is not confined to the states; the Supreme Court has recently made it more difficult to ensure adequate protection from disenfranchisement in federal elections.

Adam is a strong believer that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been enormously important in protecting Americans’ right to vote, by requiring that states, counties, and municipalities with histories of voter discrimination obtain federal preclearance before changing voting laws. That’s why he was proud to co-sponsor the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which passed the House in August 2021, and would establish new criteria for determining which jurisdictions must get preclearance – ensuring the rights of today’s most vulnerable populations are protected.  

Adam is also a proud co-sponsor of H.R.1: the For the People Act, which passed the House in January 2021. This legislation will empower voters and strengthen our democracy by ending partisan gerrymandering, making Election Day a federal holiday, banning voter roll purging, expanding automatic voter registration and early voting, giving public matching funds for small donors, and increasing disclosure. It will ultimately make it easier to vote, bring much-needed reform to our campaign finance system, and help fight corruption so that the government is working for the American people – not special interests or big donors.

 

Improving Oversight and Preventing Presidential Abuse of Power

After events in recent years, we must do everything we can to ensure no future president can undermine our democracy by placing their own interests above the nation’s interests. That’s why Adam introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act to address abuses of presidential power, strengthen checks and balances, accountability, transparency, and combat foreign interference in our elections. Along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and For the People Act, it is the third pillar of House Democrats’ pro-democracy agenda.  

This bill, which passed the House in December 2021, would prevent presidential abuses of the pardon power enforce the emoluments clauses of the Constitution, allow Congress to enforce subpoenas, reassert the power of the purse, and strengthen oversight. It would also protect our elections by mandating reporting on any interference and taking measures to prevent interference in the first place.

 

Reforming Our Broken Campaign Finance System

Adam was elected to Congress in 2000 after a race that was, at the time, the most expensive in the history of the House of Representatives. This race helped form his strong belief that reform is desperately needed to tackle election spending by corporations and wealthy individuals. The first bill Adam co-sponsored in Congress was the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Act to regulate the financing of political campaigns, which was later passed and signed into law.

Since 2010, hundreds of millions of special interest dollars have been poured into campaigns as a result of Supreme Court decisions that allow corporations to spend unlimited funds on campaign ads and struck down decades of restrictions on corporate spending in electoral campaigns as well as limits on overall federal campaign contributions. Adam believes that a constitutional amendment is necessary to remedy this threat to our democracy and overturn Citizens United. For that reason, Adam has written and introduced such an amendment that would allow Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign contributions and independent expenditures and would allow states to enact their own public financing laws.