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Senate Dems Intro Constitutional Amendment on Campaign Finance

November 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For decades, the least democratic federal legal institution in the United States has been custom tailoring the body of laws that have the most profound influence on the functioning of our democracy. In 1976 the Supreme Court ruled that political donations are a form of speech and deserve First Amendment protections. In 2010 they ruled that corporations are people and gave them power to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections without having to disclose anything.

A new constitutional amendment in the Senate seeks to regain control of campaign finance laws for Congress and state legislature. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall [D, NM] and co-sponsored by 8 other Democrats, would add language to the Constitution stating that Congress and the individual states can regulate and place limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.

The amendment faces extremely long odds. In order to take effect, constitutional amendments must pass both chambers of Congress with 2/3rds majorities, and then be approved by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states. With congressional Republicans opposing even basic disclosure of corporate spending on elections, promoting a constitutional amendment on campaign finance is basically an academic exercise.

Without a constitutional amendment, any campaign finance reforms Congress may pursue will face the threat of being struck down by the Supreme Court. The Fair Elections Now Act, for example, could be viewed by the Court as an attempt to unfairly tip the playing field of speech in the favor of candidates who opt to use public campaign funding. In their decision to kill Arizona’s public campaign financing system over the summer, the Court ruled that, “the matching funds provision imposes a substantial burden on the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups.” The Fair Elections Now Act might be vulnerable under that logic.

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  • njvixen 11/03/2011 1:11pm

    Nothing like being able to buy an election!!! And “they” tell us that our vote still counts. This country (and government) no longer has the moral fiber that our fore fathers intended. I bet they’re Rolling over in their graves.

  • mmitsuzono 11/03/2011 3:48pm

    our fore fathers didn’t allow white men who pay not property taxes, women and non-whites to vote. i think America is so much better today even with this nonsense. i’m sure founding fathers are horrified by modern America and i don’t think we should care that much about these slave owners.

    and yes, every vote still counts if you vote. it’s still free.

  • CurtisNeeley 11/03/2011 5:25pm

    I agree in principle that the Founding Fathers were generally PIGS.
    A corporation should NOT have the same rights as a person has and that would be a simpler Constitutional Amendment to write as well as pass.
    Appellant Brief

  • luminous 11/04/2011 3:34am

    Supreme court created corporate person, and that would take an amendment to fix at this point, or a supreme court decision overruling the previous decision(could happen if Obama wins in 2012 sounds like Thomas’s health isn’t doing so well he likely won’t be able to hold out for another term).

    And the idea that money is the same as speech needs to be killed once and for all. Our Democracy is being manipulated to such gross extents by the likes of the Koch brothers(inherited their money from daddy who made his money helping to building Stalin’s oil industry with slave labor from Armenia).

    Bloomberg spent the equal of $175 dollars per voter in his last election for his campaign. Somewhere in the range of 96% of senate campaigns are won by the guy with more money.

    If we can’t fix this we might as well surrender any misconceptions that we have a democracy and simply auction off house and senate seats to the highest bidder as opposed to wasting time with elections.

  • jayneedshelp 11/17/2011 1:44pm

    When our government was first started our country main business was farming and we had a lot of area so a representative republic was ideal. However the main drawback of this government is big money rules.(1776 not to many millionaire farmers). I know this government is too corrupt to pass this amendment. However I think we should start a movement. That only voting U.S citizens can contribute to a campaign or national party. George Norquest(Tea party) has the congressional republican leadership on speed dial to remind them of their no tax oath. That is dangerous to an effective government. We need to control these lobbist,pacs,or soon we won’t have an occupy wall street. People will be burning wall street!

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