05.15.14

Leahy Announces June 3 Hearing On Constitutional Amendment To Rein In Massive Campaign Spending

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 15, 2014) –The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next month on a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding campaign finance and money in politics, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Thursday.

The hearing comes on the heels of the Court’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which five justices reversed long-standing precedent and declared aggregate limits on campaign contributions in elections to be unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment. Coupled with the destructive Citizens United decision of 2010, Leahy said Congress must respond.  

“The Court has repeatedly used the First Amendment – not to protect the voices of all Americans, but as an instrument to amplify the voices of billionaires and corporations,” Leahy said.  “Those voices are not the only ones who the Founding Fathers intended the First Amendment to protect.  They meant for the First Amendment to protect the voices of all Americans.”

The full committee hearing on Tuesday, June 3, will focus on a constitutional amendment authored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), which would allow Congress and the states the authority to set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money in political campaigns.

Senate Republicans, including those who once supported transparency in campaign spending, have blocked legislation to curtail corporate influence in elections in recent years.  While legislative action in Congress has stalled, states including Vermont have responded by embracing the idea of a constitutional amendment to restore government to its people.  Leahy said it is time for Congress to follow the lead of the states and build support for amending the Constitution to ensure that all Americans can exercise their First Amendment rights.

“I recognize that amending the Constitution will not be easy,” Leahy said. “Vermonters have been leading the nation on this issue, and many in our country took note that our Legislature was the first to call for a constitutional convention for the purpose of drafting a remedy.  Like my fellow Vermonters, I strongly believe that something must be done to address the divisive and corrosive decisions by the Supreme Court that have dismantled nearly every reasonable protection against corruption and against unfettered spending in our political process.”

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