Senate Democrats plan to bring a constitutional amendment to the Senate floor this year that would undo recent rulings on campaign finance made by the Supreme Court.
The decisions — including 2010’s Citizens United case and the recentMcCutcheon v. FEC — have eliminated limits on millions of dollars worth of donations to political campaigns from corporations, labour unions, and generally wealthy individuals. The amendment, which is being sponsored by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, would give back authority to Congress and state governments in regulating campaign spending.
The amendment is supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who announced the legislation at a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday. Schumer said there would be a vote on the amendment by the end of the year.
“The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections,” Schumer said. “That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. The only way to undo the damage the court has done is to pass Senator Udall’s amendment to the Constitution, and Senate Democrats are going to try to do that. Before the year is out, we’re going to bring it up on the Senate floor for a vote, where we hope Republicans will join us in ensuring the wealthy can’t drown out middle-class voices in our democracy.”
The 2010 Citizens United ruling removed restrictions on corporations and unions from spending limits on political campaigns, which led to the advent of so-called Super PACs. The recent McCutcheon decision
struck down caps that individuals can make to candidates or political parties during a two-year election cycle.
Udall said his amendment would do five things:
- Restore authority to the American people, through Congress and the states, to regulate and limit the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns
- Allow states to regulate campaign spending at their level;
- Include the authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures, like those from Super PACs;
- Allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges;
- Expressly provide that any regulation authorised under the amendment cannot limit the freedom of the press.
It’s extremely unlikely Udall’s amendment will ever become part of the U.S. Constitution. It would need to be passed by two-thirds of both the House and Senate, as well as ratified by three-quarters of the states. However, the amendment serves as more fodder for Senate Democrats in an election year that has seen them go full throttle with attacks on the billionaire Republican megadonor Koch brothers.
The full text of the amendment is below:
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