Kerry: Overturn High Court's Campaign Finance Ruling

Tuesday, 02 Feb 2010 08:15 PM

By Dan Weil

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Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., supports the idea of a constitutional amendment to circumvent the recent Supreme Court decision to eliminate some limits on corporate campaign spending.

“I think we need a constitutional amendment to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals,” Kerry said during a Senate Rules Committee hearing, The Hill reports. The court justified its decision on free speech grounds.

The chance for passage of such an amendment is slim at best. It would have to be approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and then by three-fourths of states to be implemented. And many Republicans agree with the Supreme Court.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., is the only senator beside Kerry so far to voice support for the amendment idea.

The five-to-four Supreme Court decision allows companies and unions to spend as much as they want on political causes that don’t involve direct donations to a candidate.

House Speak Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to head a group drafting a bill to weaken the court’s ruling. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will play the same role in the Senate.

Democrats seek to impose their rules before this year’s congressional races reach high season. And they may have the public’s backing. An Angus Reid poll shows that 66 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents disagreed with the court decision.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., co-author of the campaign finance bill overturned by the court, said, “I am disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions," The Washington Post reports.

But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The Supreme Court took an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights of these groups by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day," according to The Post.

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