Not without my having a hissy-fit about it, they aren’t.
The Senate, primarily Democrats (but it says “Joint,” so to me that implies at least one sponsor from the Republicans) has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19, found here: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.”
Now yeah, the US elections process has tons of bullshit within it. The Electoral College is an idiotic structure and campaign financing is a mess. My hope was this particular bill would curtail spending by corporations for electoral campaigns. Corporations aren’t people, and in my opinion don’t have freedom of speech. Individuals should be allowed to contribute whatever they want to an election, as long as it’s in a free and open manner (hey, if you want to use your free speech to support someone, then be accountable for it). Oh, and to close a loophole, no one should be permitted to contribute to a campaign on behalf of another person (so those corporations can’t donate $10 billion dollars on behalf of all their employees).
Anyway, just my two cents. There’s still plenty of room for corruption and influence there, but hey, Democracy is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the others, right (and there are, imho, a couple of exceptions to this rule, but that’s another blog entry)? Unfortunately, this bill – which remember is really a Constitutional Amendment – accomplishes absolutely none of that, and instead seeks to curtail your First Amendment rights.
It’s rather brief and to the point, but absolutely vague enough to let Congress unleash absolute power over your rights via subsequent bills supported by this legislation. To boil the roughly seven parts down to a couple of sentences: Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal and State elections by setting limits on the amount of contributions to candidates for the purposes of supporting or opposing a candidate. Oh, they do point out this amendment will have no power over freedom of the press, just individuals because, you know, the press is more important. And then the kicker that’s going to screw all of us: “Section 4. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Now all this is the potential impact. What’s probably the real impact? Somehow I don’t think this is going to get through Congress. If it did, three-fourths of the states would have to ratify it, which I also don’t think will happen. And I have a feeling the Supreme Court would strike it down as well.
But do we really want to take that chance?