Tonight the Senate voted 78-18 to advance the Democrats’ proposal to amend the Constitution to give Congress the power to prohibit or restrict participation in political campaigns. A number of Republicans voted to advance the bill, but will oppose it in debate and will vote against it. Charles Grassley said, “We should have debate on this important amendment. The majority should be made to answer why they want to silence critics.”
The Democrats claim that their amendment will merely reverse the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions. In fact, as we wrote here, it “would give Congress unprecedented power to limit debate on public issues in the context of elections.” The amendment would give Congress the “power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections.” So if Senators and Congressmen want to make sure they have their jobs for life, they can limit spending on campaigns challenging them to zero dollars. They can also ban books and movies that might influence voters in one direction or another–which is exactly what happened in Citizens United. For example, as the ACLU has pointed out, the proposed amendment would give Congress the power to ban the publication or sale of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices if she were running for office.
The idea that a major American political party would propose such a sweeping ban on free speech is shocking; or would be, in any era but this one. In the Age of Obama, Reid and Pelosi, it seems that there is no depth to which the Democratic Party will not sink.