To The Daily Sun,
I have just learned that there is a bill in the House, HB 1524, that calls on the Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would give Congress and state legislatures the authority to regulate money in elections. The proposed wording would be:
Section I. Congress and State Legislatures shall regulate the role of money in elections and governance to ensure transparency, prevent corruption, and protect against the buying of access to or influence over representatives. No such regulation shall be deemed in violation of freedom of speech rights in the Constitution of the United States or its Amendments.
Section II. Legislative districts or districting plans shall not intentionally or unduly favor or disfavor any political party. Within twelve months of ratification, all federal and state district lines shall be redrawn to conform hereto.
For a very long time now, I have been unhappy with the Supreme Court rulings that have overturned election laws passed by Congress and the states. Those rulings have largely rested on the idea that limiting contributions and expenditures constitutes limiting the candidate’s speech and is therefore impermissible under the First Amendment. I follow the logic of that but there are certainly constitutional views that differ – Citizens United was decided 5-4. The result in the real world is what we now see – floods of money, and elected officials not only spending a large amount of their time raising money, but giving more and more attention to the views of their larger donors over the general public.
I concluded long ago that there was no solution to this problem other than an amendment that would explicitly give Congress and states the right to make such laws, and explicitly state that doing so shall not be construed to violate free speech rights. That will make it clear and unarguable.
I also want to say that while I heartily agree with the idea of Section II in the bill, I am not sure I want the two issues in the same amendment. That would be a different discussion and for now I want to focus my support on Section I, which I believe the substantial majority of voters nationwide would support.