Voters Would Change Constitution To Limit Corporate Spending In Elections

When the Supreme Court invalidated a decades-long ban on corporate spending in federal elections in their Citizens United decision, it was by the narrowest of margins — only one justice. The public is less split on the issue, however. A new poll by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which was provided to the Huffington Post, shows that by a double-digit margin, voters want Congress to use a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision and once again restrict corporations from directly spending on elections.

Forty-six percent of voters said that “Congress should consider drastic measures such as a constitutional amendment overturning” Citizens United, while 36 percent disagreed. Only a fifth of voters were undecided on the matter. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) has already authored such an amendment, and told the Huffington Post, “I really concluded that the Supreme Court actually put the challenge out to us, here in the Congress. They said…Congress, you have no authority to regulate. And when the Court says that so directly, it only leaves us one choice.” Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) are also behind the amendment, which enjoys the strong support of many law professors and former attorneys general.

Short of a constitutional amendment, which would require a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states, the DISCLOSE Act offers another possible remedy to the worst aspects of Citizens United. Today in Roll Call, Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank wrote a stinging op-ed calling on Republicans to support DISCLOSE:

The first is the failure of any Republican Senator to step up and support the DISCLOSE Act, to bring sunlight to the outrageous, anonymous huge funders who played a major role in the 2010 campaigns, hiding behind the cloak of 501(c)(4)s run by groups cynically manipulating weak IRS enforcement of the law. […]


So where are the previous champions of campaign finance reform? Where is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose greatest legislative accomplishment was given a sharp stick in the eye by a 5–4 decision on the Supreme Court? Where are previous supporters of reform — and professed supporters of disclosure — such as Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.)? And most important, where is Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who has always been an independent voice, whose Snowe-Jeffords amendment to the campaign reform law was the provision most assaulted by the Citizens United case, who stood up to immense pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican leaders in 2002 to do the right thing?

With this kind of pressure building, PCCC cofounder Adam Green thinks it’s a ripe time for action. “It’s time to stop thinking small-bore. The solution to Citizens United is not merely disclosure, it’s to overturn Citizens United — and even last November’s Republican-skewed electorate agrees,” he told the Huffington Post.