(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)
Senate Democrats announced plans to move forward with a constitutional amendment to reverse U.S. Supreme Court decisions and give greater authority to Congress and to individual states to regulate campaign finance.
In a floor speech Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing soon on a constitutional amendment introduced by sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
The amendment would undo the high court’s 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo and, more recently, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. “The Senate will vote on that legislation,” Reid said.
“The Supreme Court has equated money with speech, so the more money, more speech you get, the more influence on democracy,” Reid said. “What kind of a system is that? It’s wrong.”
The flood of special-interest money in elections, Reid said, poses a “glaring” threat to the integrity of campaigns. “I understand that we Senate Democrats are proposing something that’s no small thing,” Reid said.
Reid several times alluded to recent commentary from retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who appeared before a Senate committee hearing April 30 to advocate for a constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform.
Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first announced then that Democrats would hold a Senate vote this year on a constitutional amendment. Schumer earlier mentioned the possibility following the Supreme Court’s decision April 2 in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. announced the McCutcheon decision for a divided court, which declared unconstitutional the aggregate limit on money an individual can give political campaigns and political action committees—$123,000 per cycle.