The First Amendment never needs defending when it comes to popular speech. . . . I would hope that all of us in this chamber champion liberty … but when I hear some talk about cutting back on our First Amendment rights, you can see why people would wonder. — Senator Patrick Leahy, June 26, 2006
That was the mindset of the man who on June 3rd will preside over a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a constitutional amendment to “rein in massive campaign spending.” Essentially, he takes exception to the proposition that spending money (or lots of it) on elections is protected speech, much as his opponents took exception eight years ago to the proposition that desecrating the flag was speech, let alone protected speech. In that regard, it is well to remember that the same Justice John Paul Stevens who recently testified before the Senate in favor of aconstitutional amendment to overrule Buckley v. Valeo and its progeny was also the one who dissented from the First Amendment holding in the flag desecration cases (Texas v. Johnson andUnited States v. Eichman). Thereafter, the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to overrule those cases nearly succeeded (see below).
Text of Proposed Constitutional Amendment
I respect my colleagues’ fidelity to the First Amendment, but no amendment is absolute. – Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (May 2014)
The proposed constitutional amendment (S.J. 19) set out below was introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and co-sponsofed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) along with 38 others (no Republican co-sponsors):
SECTION 1. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on— (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.
SECTION 2. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, each State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on— (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.
SECTION 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.
SECTION 4. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Question: Given the gravity of amending the First Amendment for the first time in our history, it would be well to know who exactly drafted the Udall amendment. If staffers, which one(s)? And did any law professor(s) help in the drafting?
→ Other proposed amendments can be found here.
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[This proposed amendment is ] an all-out assault on the right to free speech, a right which undergirds all others in our democracy. — Senator Mitch McConnell, May 15, 2014
A Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate and ratification by 38 states, so it has scant chance of passing any time soon. – WSJ Editorial, May 6, 2014
Historical First? — Liberal Push for Amendment to Amend First Amendment Read More