Thursday, February 4, 2010

Senator Kerry's Quest to Amend the Constitution

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission should be stale news to you by now. The new debate is how the disappointed executive and legislative branches will react to the judiciary's (alleged) overreaching.

Senator Kerry suggests starting at the source: amend the constitution. From the Huffington Post:
At a hearing on Tuesday, Kerry said that in the short term he wanted Congress to quickly pass countermeasures that would require corporations to get shareholder approval for political spending and prohibit spending by domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations and government contractors.

'But we may also need to think bigger,' Kerry said. '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.'
While, undoubtedly, Justice Scalia would be proud of Senator Kerry for actually changing the constitution's text to effect a change in its meaning, I can't imagine a bigger third-rail for the Senior Senator than running on a platform of "let's fix the first amendment."

More likely than not, Citizens United will be somewhat curtailed by a more mundane act of Congress. Proposals have ranged from requiring shareholder approval of any corporate campaign spending to preventing corporations from listing on exchanges if they fund campaign speech. Whether such an act will withstand the scrutiny of SCOTUS' all seeing eyes is another question (but commentators seem to say no).

So we may be in for a show. Hopefully the 28th Amendment will be a little more spicy than the underwhelming 27th Amendment.


  1. This is unsurprising. I don't see how it will ever happen. Why not just amend MF Act?

  2. The 27th Amendment is so overwhelming. Especially since it comes after the 26th Amendment, which drastically changed the 14th Amendment.


    14th Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

    26th Amendment: "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older . . . ."

    Why did we choose to change the standard to account for age, rather than naturalization? Does this mean that a foreigner, like Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Cal), can now be President of the United States?

  3. No Schwarzenegger cannot be President -- Article II Section 1 still requires the President be "a _natural born_ Citizen", not merely a citizen

  4. Sam - I'd like to connect. This is the guy you stacked cups with in the Union Bank building. You won't find me at that firm, but put my first and last names together @gmail and send me a note! -Mitch


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