July 11, 2014


Washington, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted today to approve a constitutional amendment to help curb unlimited corporate spending in elections. Hirono forcefully rebutted Republican arguments by presenting the historical precedence for amending the U.S. Constitution in order to improve our democracy, including voting rights for women, African Americans and the poor.

“Congress and the States have amended the Constitution since the Bill of Rights,” testified Hirono. “In fact, we’ve done so 17 times. And it was not easy. Each of those times, it took a long time. In fact, just to get women the right to vote took decades. But each time we have amended the Constitution, it shaped the rights and liberties that we enjoy as Americans. And it has helped us achieve a more perfect union. The Supreme Court is made up of human beings. And human beings can get it wrong. And in some of the most important points of our democracy’s history, Congress and the States have amended the Constitution because the Supreme Court simply got the Constitution wrong. Dead wrong.”

Watch Hirono’s full remarks here: http://youtu.be/2Sy5K_MYFRU

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s press release reads below:

Constitutional Amendment To Rein In Massive Campaign Spending

Approved By Senate Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON (Thursday, July 10, 2014) –The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding campaign finance and money in politics.

The amendment would restore the ability for Congress and the States to set reasonable limits on financial contributions and expenditures intended to influence elections. The Committee voted 10-8 to approve the amendment, which was originally authored by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and amended by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) during last month’s markup in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

The Judiciary Committee’s actions today come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which five justices reversed long-standing precedent and declared aggregate limits on campaign contributions in elections to be unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment. Coupled with the destructive Citizens United decision of 2010, Leahy said Congress must respond.

“Restoring the First Amendment to allow Congress and the States the authority to impose reasonable limits on campaign spending is a commonsense measure that we should all be able to support,” Leahy said. “All Americans should be able to participate in our democracy – not just billionaires and wealthy corporations.”

Leahy added: “I have heard from many Vermonters who are concerned about how the Supreme Court’s decisions threaten the constitutional rights of hardworking Americans.  I am proud that Vermont has been a leader in this country in speaking out loudly and forcefully about the devastating impact of these decisions.”

Leahy chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing in June on the issue. At that hearing, Committee members heard real-life accounts of how a massive influx in money has dramatically affected election outcomes throughout the country. Advocates also delivered petitions from two million individuals who support a constitutional amendment to fight back against the corrosive effects of the Supreme Court’s damaging decisions regarding money in politics.

The constitutional amendment now goes to the full Senate for consideration.  Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online.