Leahy: SJC Will Hold Hearing On Citizens United Constitutional Amendment Proposals

Durbin-Chaired Constitution Subcommittee To Hold Hearing In July

WASHINGTON (May 10, 2012) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today that the Constitution Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine pending constitutional proposals to remedy the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.  Leahy has asked Subcommittee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) to hold the hearing, which is scheduled for July 17.

“The devastating effects of the Court’s divisive decision in Citizens United are already being felt in states and communities across the country,” said Leahy.  “Since the decision was handed down, Democrats in Congress have been working to protect the voices of millions of American voters.  Regrettably, we have not seen the bipartisan cooperation needed in Congress to move forward with even debating these proposals.  This hearing will explore and evaluate a number of constitutional amendment proposals that have been introduced.  I thank Senator Durbin for his chairing the hearing.”

A number of constitutional amendments to address the Supreme Court’s decision have been introduced in the United States Senate.  Constitutional amendments are traditionally first considered by the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee panel dedicated to constitutional matters.

Both Leahy and Durbin are cosponsors of legislation twice proposed in the Senate to strengthen the campaign finance laws gutted by Citizens United.  The DISCLOSE Act would ensure that individual Americans, not corporate entities or other organizations, are still the primary players in elections.  Senate Republicans in the past have filibustered efforts to even debate the bill.

“Amending the Constitution is a step that should not be taken lightly, and the process is laborious and lengthy,” said Leahy.  “Vermont voters are on the forefront of this movement, and more than 60 towns across the state have approved resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment.  I would support an appropriate constitutional remedy to reverse the Citizens United decision.  But voters cannot wait years, or decades, for a constitutional remedy to counter the Citizens United decision.  That is why I am also pressing for legislative and non-legislative remedies to reverse the impact of this decision.”

Another bill pending in the Senate, introduced by Durbin and cosponsored by Leahy, to address the Citizens United decision is the Fair Elections Now Act, which would create a voluntary system that gives congressional candidates the option to stop raising huge sums of money, giving them more time to work on the people’s business. The Fair Elections Now Act will allow qualified, legitimate candidates receive grants, matching funds, and television vouchers to run competitive campaigns based on small dollar donors, not special interest money from lobbyists and corporations.

Leahy chaired the first congressional hearing on the Citizens United decision in the weeks following the Court’s opinion.  In addition to sponsoring legislative fixes, he has also joined with other Senators to urge administrative agencies like the Federal Election Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to use their existing authorities to issue regulations to limit the effects of Citizens United.

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