Leahy Steers Constitutional Amdt. On Campaign Finance/Citizens United To 10-8 Judiciary Committee Approval

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, July 10, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy Thursday steered a constitutional amendment redressing the Supreme Court’s decisions on campaign finance and money in politics to approval by the panel.

The amendment would restore the ability for Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on financial contributions and expenditures intended to influence elections.  The Committee voted 10-8 to approve the constitutional amendment, which was originally authored by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and amended by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) during last month’s markup in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

The Judiciary Committee’s actions come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 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.  

“Restoring the First Amendment to allow Congress and the States the authority to impose reasonable limits on campaign spending is a commonsense measure that we should all be able to support,” Leahy said. “All Americans should be able to participate in our democracy – not just billionaires and wealthy corporations.”

Leahy added: “I have heard from many Vermonters who are concerned about how the Supreme Court’s decisions threaten the constitutional rights of hardworking Americans.  I am proud that Vermont has been a leader in this country in speaking out loudly and forcefully about the devastating impact of these decisions.”

Leahy chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing in June on the issue.  At that hearing, Committee members heard real-life accounts of how a massive influx in money has dramatically affected election outcomes throughout the country.  Advocates also delivered petitions from two million individuals who support a constitutional amendment to fight back against the corrosive effects of the Supreme Court’s damaging decisions regarding money in politics.

The constitutional amendment now goes to the full Senate for consideration.  Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online

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