Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California called for the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling to be overturned, saying the decision was “at odds with reality.”
The ruling struck down key campaign finance laws, giving rise to so-called Super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence federal elections.
“What stood out most about Citizens United was not the court’s legal reasoning, but its staggering naivety,” Schiff said on the House floor. “As the court confidently declared, ‘We now conclude that independent expenditures including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.’ Unfortunately, the five justices who joined this opinion must be the last five Americans to feel that way.”
The congressman noted the Supreme Court held in Buckley v. Valeo that campaign spending was a form of political speech, and thus protected by the First Amendment. The Citizens United ruling was based in part on the Buckley decision.
“In Buckley, the court felt there was a compelling state interest in regulating contributions to candidates, but there was not yet sufficient evidence of a similarly compelling need to regulate independent expenditures,” Schiff explained. “But the court acknowledged the need to revisit that conclusion in the future if events should prove otherwise. The events have most certainly proved otherwise following Citizens United.”
Earlier this month, Schiff introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. The proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would allow the federal government to impose “reasonable content-neutral limitations” on independent political contributions and spending.
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