Hirono, Democrats propose constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United
WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats are hoping to make your campaign donations more effective by overturning a controversial campaign finance law.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The announcement came during a news conference outside the Supreme Court Tuesday morning led by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
“Corporations are not people, and your net worth shouldn’t determine your right to free speech,” Udall said.
In 2010, the court ruled on Citizens United, which gave corporations and non-profits more freedom to contribute to political campaigns and run commercials during an election. Supporters call it free speech Critics, including Senate Democrats, say the ruling is ruining democracy.
“People say they want to get rid of the swamp,” Schumer said, referencing a 2016 campaign promise by then-candidate Donald Trump to rid the swamp (the Washington establishment) of corrupt practices and ethics. “Citizens United is the embodiment of the swamp.”
Since the court’s ruling, Citizen’s United has unleashed an unprecedented amount of outside money into federal elections, and helped create “Super PACs,” or political action committees. That adds up to more than $1.4 billion in independent expenditures during the 2016 election cycle, according to the campaign finance website OpenSecrets.org. That is nearly ten-times as much money as the 2008 cycle, the last presidential election before citizens united became law.
“It opened the floodgates for dark money to really overtake the money that candidates raised for their elections,” Hirono said.
The senators are introducing a constitutional amendment, so any repeal would not happen immediately; and Senate Republicans are heavily supportive of the 2010 decision. Because this is a Constitutional Amendment, three-fourths of the states will also have to agree to the reform.