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Citizens v United

As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court in the last few years has made decisions that struck down a number of limits on campaign-related spending by organizations that are independent of campaigns. This has led to a major increase in campaign spending by big donors.

We have been considering proposals that seek to counter the influence of big donors by enhancing the influence of small donors or requiring greater transparency of all donations. Some people think this is not adequate to counter the influence of big donors and say that Congress should directly limit all forms of campaign-related donations.

For Congress to do this, however, would require a new Constitutional amendment, which would override the Supreme Court’s past decisions on this subject, including ‘Citizens United,’ and prevent the courts from striking down campaign finance laws in the future.

Passing any Constitutional amendment is quite challenging. It requires ratification by two thirds of Congress and three quarters of all states.

Such an amendment has been proposed in both houses of Congress. It has two parts, which we will consider one at a time.