Democrats on Capitol Hill are already planning new legislation to bolster campaign finance restrictions, after the Supreme Court today threw out laws limiting corporate and union campaign spending. One Democrat in the House has already introduced a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision, Politico reports.
Iowa Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell's proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit a corporation or labor union from using operating funds, or any other general treasury funds, for federal campaign advertising, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election of or defeat of a candidate. Such an amendment would negate the Court's decision today, which was based on the premise that corporations and unions have a right to free political speech under the protection of the First Amendment.
Democrats, including President Obama, argue that the Court ruling, in fact, undermines regular citizens' right to free speech by empowering rich corporations to drown out other voices in a political debate.
"The Supreme Court's ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans," Boswell said in a statement announcing his amendment. "The Court's elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly."
Boswell pointed out the corporations can already fund political action committees and make personal donations to campaigns. That is enough, he said.
"No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote," Boswell said.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), who co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that was largely overruled today, promised new legislation to address the ruling, the Hill reports.
"The American people will pay dearly for this decision when, more than ever, their voices are drowned out by corporate spending in our federal elections," the Wisconsin Democrat said. "In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation restoring as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as possible."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also said he would like to see legislation that addresses the ruling passed in time to affect the 2010 midterm elections, Politico reports. As head of the Senate Rules Committee, Schumer said he will hold hearings on the impact of the court decision within a couple of weeks, the Hill reports.
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