“My proposal would right the wrong of Citizens United – simply overturn it – and give back to the people, like those in Montana, the ability to once again say we are not for sale,” he said.
A campaign to amend the Constitution is already underway with nearly 1.9 million signatures, supportive resolutions from 275 cities and towns, and the backing of state legislatures in California, Maryland, Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island.
Senator Durbin compared the campaign finance issue to other historic national problems that required constitutional amendments to resolve, such as ending slavery, extending the vote to women, and invalidating poll taxes.
“I have reached the conclusion that a constitutional amendment is necessary,” Durbin said. “It is an uphill battle. It may take years.”
The hearing came a week after a campaign spending disclosure law – the DISCLOSE Act – was bottled up in the US Senate by Republican opposition. It also comes amid what is expected to be the most expensive presidential election season in history – including massive spending by so-called super political-action committees.
The Citizens United decision and a related federal appeals court ruling five months later set the stage for the current proliferation of organizations seeking to influence the outcome of national elections while working independently of candidates and their political parties.