The world after McCutcheon v. FEC — and amending the First Amendment

This article by Tony Mauro discusses the reactions of campaign-reform advocates to the Supreme Court's decision last week in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down congressional limits on how much money an individual may donate in total to all federal candidates or political committees in a particular election cycle. See 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(3) (deceased Apr. 2, 2014). The Court said that these limits violate the First Amendment. Mauro explains that a growing number of advocates now believe that, in light of a series of Supreme Court rulings, the only way that Congress can enact meaningful campaign finance reform is to amend the First Amendment. (Some advocates are also fearful that McCutcheon contains the seeds for another major blow: a holding that even the limits on individual contributions to single candidates upheld in Buckley v. Valeo violate the First Amendment.)

Some reformers, including Public Citizen, have been pushing a constitutional amendment for a while. Nearly two years ago, we told you about constitutional scholar Larry Tribe's proposed constitutional amendment:

Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to forbid Congress or the states from imposing content-neutral limitations on private campaign contributions or independent political campaign expenditures. Nor shall this Constitution prevent Congress or the states from enacting systems of public campaign financing, including those designed to restrict the influence of private wealth by offsetting campaign spending or independent expenditures with increased public funding.