In the wake of McCutcheon v. FEC, Democratic Senator Tom Udall has proposed a constitutional amendment in S.J. Res 19. The so-called Political Equality Amendment would vest Congress with the power to regulate election fundraising, contribution caps, and campaign spending as they see fit. The text of the proposed Amendment reads:
“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.”
Additionally, Section two imparts identical authority for states to regulate State office elections. This proposed amendment would essentially overturn Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC. Majority Leader Harry Reid has backed this proposed amendment as an effort to battle significant donors he opposes, such as the Koch brothers.
Ranking Rules Committee Member Pat Roberts plainly stated yesterday on the Senate floor that, “[i]t is not necessary to amend the First Amendment to ensure that all Americans can exercise their First Amendment rights. Those rights are already guaranteed by the First Amendment as written. The amendment the majority wants to impose would allow them to once again curtail those rights.”
The Wall Street Journal warns that:
The real guarantee would be political advantage for all incumbents, since it's the sitting lawmakers who really benefit from any law limiting contributions to candidates or on their behalf. While Beltway boys like Messrs. Schumer and Udall have the name recognition to raise money in small increments, challengers often need the financial boost from a few individuals to get their message heard. . . . Once you've opened the First Amendment for revision by politicians, and reinterpretation by judges, anything can happen.