Senate Democrats fired off their first legislative response Wednesday to a recent Supreme Court decision overruling restrictions on outside political spending.
The proposal introduced by Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) would grant lawmakers the sole constitutional right to set federal campaign finance standards.
In January, the high court narrowly tossed out a decades-old ban on television ad buys and other independent expenditures by corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations in the weeks before primaries and general elections.
While conservatives applauded the 5-4 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision as a victory for free speech, many Democratic lawmakers predicted the ruling would flood the political system with cash from trade groups and organized labor.
“I am a firm believer in the sanctity of the first amendment, and I believe we must continue to do all we can to protect the free speech rights of the American people,” Dodd said in a statement. “But I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s conclusion that money is speech, and that corporations should be treated the same as individual Americans when it comes to protected, fundamental speech rights.”
Dodd’s office on Wednesday released only vague details about the proposal, which would “authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures, and allow states to regulate such spending at their level.”
Dodd’s legislation also undoubtedly faces an uphill battle in persuading not only a majority of his House and Senate colleagues to change the Constitution, but three-quarters of the nation’s state legislatures as well.