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House Dems Propose A Constitutional Amendment For Citizens United

February 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Two liberal House members yesterday triggered what could be a “nuclear option” in dealing with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision: a constitutional amendment.

If you recall, the Supreme Court recently lifted a ban on unlimited corporate spending in federal elections. In general, Republicans support the decision while Democrats are outraged. In response, a few Congressional Democrats have been pursuing legislative methods to limit the decision’s impact.

Yesterday, Rep. Donna Edwards [D, MD-4] and Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] introduced a constitutional amendment (H.J.Res.74), by far the most drastic legislative action available, allowing Congress to “regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.”

The amendment, which is only sponsored by Edwards and Conyers as of today, is pretty straightforward:

SECTION 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.
SECTION 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

Both Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA] and Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] have brought up the idea of amending the Constitution in response to the Citizen’s United decision, though neither has actually introduced an actual amendment yet.

Considering the difficulty Democrats have had in passing, say, a health care bill, it’s highly unlikely they’ll manage to pass a constitutional amendment which needs the support of two-thirds of both chambers and would then need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

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