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Obama Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United In Online Chat

Obama's brief endorsement seen as encouraging grassroots reformers.


President Obama has said a constitutional amendment might be needed to overturn the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling in 2010, which helped create some of the biggest campaign finance loopholes now being exploited by cash-rich organizations in the 2012 election.

Obama made his remarks during a brief online chat on Reddit on Wednesday (full transcript here). Here is the question and his reply:

Question: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?

Answer: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress - to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

Obama's support of a constitutional amendment was immediately heralded by liberal campaigners, such as Jeff Clements of

In July, the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on constitutional issues held a hearing to hear about the more than one-dozen various amendment proposals introduced in Congress.

Broadly speaking, they fall into two camps. The first seeks legislative authority for Congress to regulate all aspects of campaign fundraising and spending, which would reverse a line of Supreme Court rulings deregulating campaign cash since the mid-1970s.

The second approach would seek to strip corporations of all constitutional rights, with the possible exception of non-profits. Under that approach the First Amendment free speech rights given by the federal courts to corporations would be revoked, as well as other constitutional privileges.


AlterNet / By Steven Rosenfeld

Posted at August 29, 2012, 6:10pm

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