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Congress Reacts To The Citizens United Case

January 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case allowing direct corporate spending on campaigns could drastically change how elections in this country play out. Now Democrats in Congress are brainstorming ways to react to the decision.

Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] plans to hold hearings in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee looking at legislative ways to limit the impact of the Citizens United decision, with some kind of legislation expected by Election Day (Nov. 2). House Majority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] and Rep. Christopher Van Hollen [D, MD-8] are planning to do the same in the House.

So what is currently being considered?

Some ideas espoused by Democrats include somehow limiting federal funds going to corporations and requiring a majority of a corporation’s shareholders to approve campaign spending. Democrats are also considering a “stand-by-your-ad” provision that as Rep. Van Hollen puts it, would “require that the CEO of the company get on the air and say, ’I’m the CEO of X Corporation, and I approve this ad.’"

One of the most radical suggestions was voiced by Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA]. Taking to Twitter, Specter suggests amending the Constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision. Though the specifics were not mentioned, such an amendment might look like this proposed amendment from 2007.

Congressional Democrats could also officially express their anger in a manner similar to this resolution by liberal icon Rep. Marcy Kaptur [D, OH-9].

Whichever of these paths Democrats take, they will have to be careful not to step over the line the Supreme Court drew with its decision. They will also face likely GOP opposition and a 60 vote hurdle in the Senate thanks to the filibuster – amending the Constitution, of course, could require even more hoops to jump through.

Across the aisle, the GOP seems to be having the opposite reaction to the Citizens United decision. Many Republicans have praised the decision and are now trying further weaken McCain-Feingold by lifting the ban on a political party’s ability to raise “soft money,” or unlimited funds for non-federal campaigns.

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