Democratic Senators Eye Remedies to Citizens United Case

Posted February 2, 2010 at 1:07pm

Updated: 6:26 p.m.Democratic Senators on Tuesday outlined possible legislative paths to blunt the effects of a recent Supreme Court decision that threw out restrictions on television advertising buys by corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said he supports amending the Constitution “to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals.—At the same time, Kerry stepped up his criticism of the high court’s decision.“The Supreme Court has issued a decision inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, everyday Americans,— Kerry said at a Rules and Administration Committee hearing Tuesday. “In doing so, the court has struck at the very heart of our democracy, a democracy in which corporations already have too much influence.—Kerry’s remarks came as Rules Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) continue to craft the majority party’s legislative response to the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. A House bill could be introduced as early as Thursday.Tuesday’s hearing was Capitol Hill’s first public forum on the ruling since the Supreme Court issued its decision on Jan. 21. Both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Administration Committee are holding similar hearings on Wednesday.Before a packed hearing room in the Russell Senate Office Building, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in his testimony ticked off a list of provisions he would like to see in an upcoming campaign finance bill.“A new definition of ‘coordination,’ a prohibition of election spending by government contractors and recipients of bailout funds, a tightening of the provision in existing law concerning contributions and expenditures by foreign corporations,— Feingold said on Tuesday. “They certainly don’t reverse the court’s decision — no legislation can. But they may diminish some of the decision’s worst effects.—Republicans and other conservatives have largely applauded the Supreme Court’s decision that they say was a victory for free speech. According to Senate Rules ranking member Bob Bennett (R-Utah), the high court’s ideologically split 5-4 ruling reinforces everyday Americans First Amendment rights — no matter what they say.“All Americans have a right to make fools of themselves,— Bennett said at the hearing.