WH: Nothing New in Obama’s Call for Constitutional Amendment Curbing Political Speech

By Fred Lucas | August 31, 2012 | 7:55 AM EDT

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House says there’s nothing new about President Barack Obama’s support for a constitutional amendment that would curb political speech -- despite the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.

“Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it),” Obama wrote Wednesday on the Reddit website.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama has always been critical of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which lifted restrictions on spending in political campaigns.

“Well, I would simply point you to what he said, which is that he thinks we may need to consider this, because there are obviously -- there's been a Supreme Court decision, which, as you know, the president thought was wrongly decided and that has had, as we've all seen, a profound impact on the financing of political campaigns, has resulted in a situation where anonymous individuals and companies can funnel tens of millions of dollars into campaigns that affect how our elections are conducted and ultimately what choices are made,” Carney told reporters.

“So that's a position he's held all along since the decision,” Carney continued. “And he spoke about this in his State of the Union address. And I and others have talked about the possibility that it may require a constitutional amendment to address because of the Supreme Court ruling.

"I don't have anything more than what the president said in terms of if and when that moves from considering this possible course of action to actually implementing it. I think what you heard him or read that he said in his answer is it reflects his concern about the impact that decision has had.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission allowed corporations and unions to spend money on elections as long as they do not donate directly to a candidate’s campaign. The ruling overturned much, but not all, of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act.

On Wednesday, during an online chat on the website Reddit, Obama wrote: “Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

“We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress - to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists.

“Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it),” Obama wrote. “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”


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