Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Michael Bennet of Colorado introduced a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
The decision gave corporations and unions the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, so long as their actions are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
“As we head into another election year, we are about to see unprecedented amounts of money spent on efforts to influence the outcome of our elections,” Udall said. “With the Supreme Court striking down the sensible regulations Congress has passed, the only way to address the root cause of this problem is to give Congress clear authority to regulate the campaign finance system.”
The proposed amendment would grant Congress and the states the authority to regulate the campaign finance system, but would not dictate any specific policies or regulations.
“The Supreme Court’s reversal of its own direction in the Citizens United decision and other recent cases has had a major effect on our election system,” Bennet added.
“State legislatures and Congress now may not be allowed to approve even small regulations to our campaign finance system. This proposal would bring some badly needed stability to an area of law that has been thrown off course by the new direction the Court has taken.”
Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have co-sponsored the legislation.
“If we are going to preserve a government responsive to its citizens, we need commonsense reforms that give the American people a full voice,” said Merkley. “This Constitutional Amendment is essential for the people to be heard.”
Democrats had previously attempted to pass a law — the DISCLOSE Act — to mitigate the effects of Citizens United, but it was opposed by conservatives and failed to clear Congress thanks to a Republican filibuster.