“Money is not speech.”
That was the argument presented by former Supreme Court Justice John Stevens as he attacked the high court’s recent ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which crippled campaign finance limits, during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on Wednesday.
“While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech. Speech is only one of the activities that are financed by campaign contributions and expenditures. Those financial activities should not receive precisely the same constitutional protections as speech itself,” Stevens said. “After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglary, actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment.”
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The retired justice made a rare appearance before Congress to champion a proposed constitutional amendment, put forth by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), that would grant Congress the authority to regulate campaign finance, limiting the ability of super PACs to impact elections.
During the hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the Senate would vote on the amendment later this year. The law would reportedly roll back the McCutcheon ruling, as well as other landmark campaign finance decisions recently issued by the Supreme Court, including Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo—which have all contributed to the explosion of donations by undisclosed, deep-pocketed groups, or ‘dark money.’
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