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Legislative Options After Citizens United v. FEC: Constitutional and Legal Issues

Proposals to amend the Constitution vary. Some would provide Congress with the expansive power to regulate the raising and spending of money in federal elections, including setting limits on expenditures made in support of or opposition to federal candidates.180 Such an amendment to the Constitution would not only appear to allow Congress to enact legislation restricting corporate and labor union expenditures, but also limiting independent expenditures by candidates, political parties, political action committees (PACs), and individuals. In contrast, other proposals take a more direct approach and would expressly prohibit corporations and labor unions from using general treasury funds for advertisements in connection with a federal office campaign, regardless of whether the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate.181 In addition, as Citizens United appears to invalidate state laws that restrict corporate expenditures – in addition to the federal statute – some proposals to amend the Constitution would also provide states with the power to enact laws regulating corporate expenditures in connection with state elections. 182

Author Contact Information

L. Paige Whitaker Legislative Attorney lwhitaker@crs.loc.gov, 7-5477

Jack Maskell Legislative Attorney jmaskell@crs.loc.gov, 7-6972

Erika K. Lunder Legislative Attorney elunder@crs.loc.gov, 7-4538

Michael V. Seitzinger Legislative Attorney mseitzinger@crs.loc.gov, 7-7895

Kate M. Manuel Legislative Attorney kmanuel@crs.loc.gov, 7-4477

(...continued)

subsequent amendments, included the time limits in the authorizing resolution. Following the extension debate regarding the Equal Rights proposal, Congress once again inserted into the text of the amendment the time limit with respect to the proposal of voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia. See Congressional Research Service, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION 943 n. 26 [http://www.crs.gov/conan/default.aspx?mode=topic&doc=Article05.xml&t=1|2|3]

180

See, e.g., S.J.Res. 28 (111th

Cong.).

181

See, e.g., H.J.Res. 68 (111th

Cong.).

182

See, e.g,, H.J.Res. 13 (111th

Cong.); H.J.Res. 74 (111th Cong.).

Congressional Research Service

28

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