Harry Reid endorsed a constitutional amendment Thursday to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and permit restrictions on money in politics, billed in part as an effort to limit the Koch brothers’ influence on elections.
The Democratic Senate majority leader promised hearings and votes on the measure, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), which would restore Congress’ authority to restrict campaign spending.
“The Supreme Court has equated money with speech, so the more money you have the more speech you get, and the more influence in our democracy. That is wrong,” the Nevada Democrat said in a floor speech. “Every American should have the same ability to influence our political system. One American, one vote. That’s what the Constitution guarantees. … No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into political campaigns, whether they are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent.”
Reid launched a wholesale attack on the billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch. “The Kochs’ bid for a hostile takeover of the American democracy is calculated to make themselves even richer,” he said. “Yet, the Kochs and their Republican followers in Congress continue to assert that these hundreds of millions of dollars are free speech.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) revealed the Democrats’ intention to move forward with the amendment three weeks ago. Reid offered his support Wednesday in an interview with BuzzFeed and provided his remarks in advance to the Washington Post.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), an ardent opponent of campaign finance restrictions, responded to Reid on Twitter.
Sen. Reid’s proposal for dealing with Americans who disagree with you? Amend the Constitution to restrict their 1st Amendment rights.
— S2 (@StewSays) May 15, 2014
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the sponsor of the constitutional amendment. It is Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), not Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). The article has been updated, and we regret the error.