Senate Democrats plan vote to reverse Citizens United decision

 

Senate Democrats will schedule a vote this year on a constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance as they face tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads from conservative groups.

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The Senate will vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would overturn two recent court cases that have given corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals free rein to spend freely on federal races.

“The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections. That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who announced the plan.

“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,” he said.

Schumer said the vote would take place by year’s end and called on Republican colleagues to join Democrats to ensure “the wealthy can’t drown out middle-class voices in our Democracy.”

The amendment has little chance of becoming a part of the Constitution anytime soon because Republicans generally support the high court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC.

The 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down restrictions on corporations and unions from spending money to support or oppose candidates. In McCutcheon, five justices struck down the aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates and parties.

Udall’s amendment would specifically authorize Congress and the states to regulate and limit fundraising and spending for federal candidates.

It would grant authority to regulate and limit independent expenditures from outside groups such as super-PACs.

It also would protect future campaign finance legislation passed by Congress from reversal by the Supreme Court.

The amendment needs to be passed by two-thirds of the Senate and the House and be ratified by three quarters of the states.