Senators Propose Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has proposed a constitutional amendment to change the campaign finance landscape yet again, by “effectively revers[ing] two landmark Supreme Court decisions — the 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, which said spending money in elections is a form of speech, and the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled it unconstitutional to regulate the money spent to influence elections by corporations and unions.

The amendment would allow Congress and the states to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures, by allowing Congress to regulate the amount of money raised and spent for federal campaigns (including independent expenditures), allowing states to regulate fundraising and spending at in state elections, and opening the door for Congress to pass unspecified campaign finance reform legislation in the future.

“Letting this go unchecked is a threat to our democracy. Campaigns should be about the best ideas, not the biggest checkbooks,” Udall said at a press conference.

Huffington Post reports, “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the proposed amendment, called the Buckley case ‘one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has rendered in the last hundred years’ and described the Citizens United ruling as ‘Buckley on steroids.'”

A reversal of the Citizens United decision has been one of the demands of Occupy Wall Street protesters.  “The extent to which money and corporations have taken over the [campaign] process is reflected across our cities in the Occupy movement,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) says. “It is something we have to do something about if we are going to reclaim American democracy as the shining light to other countries that it has always been.”  Sen. Whitehouse is also co-sponsoring the amendment.

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