WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Thursday announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next month on a proposed constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance decisions.
The Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, will at the June 3 hearing discuss an amendment to address the recent decisions in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court held that aggregate limits on campaign contributions are unconstitutional.
Leahy, the longest-serving member of the Senate, said he disagrees with those decisions.
“The Court has repeatedly used the First Amendment — not to protect the voices of all Americans, but as an instrument to amplify the voices of billionaires and corporations,” Leahy said in a statement. “Those voices are not the only ones who the Founding Fathers intended the First Amendment to protect. They meant for the First Amendment to protect the voices of all Americans.”
The new amendment, proposed by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would allow Congress and state legislatures to set limits on campaign contributions.
Leahy noted that the Vermont Legislature this session became the first in the nation to call for a constitutional convention to address campaign finance reform. Since efforts to enact legislation in the Senate to change the way campaigns are financed have stalled in recent years, Leahy said the Senate should follow the lead of Vermont.
“I recognize that amending the Constitution will not be easy,” Leahy said. “Like my fellow Vermonters, I strongly believe that something must be done to address the divisive and corrosive decisions by the Supreme Court that have dismantled nearly every reasonable protection against corruption and against unfettered spending in our political process.”
Article V of the Constitution lays out how the document may be amended. Amendments can be ratified with two-thirds of support in both the Senate and House of Representatives, or by the approval of three-fourths of state legislatures.
While thousands of amendments have been proposed, the Constitution has been amended just 27 times in its history, the last time being in 1992.