Obama calls for campaign finance reforms amid court ruling

Chris Rizo May 1, 2010, 5:00pm

Barack Obama (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to pass electoral reforms aimed at limiting corporate influence in political campaigns.

Without the reforms, the nation risks a "corporate takeover of our elections," the president said in his weekly radio address.

The legislation introduced by Democrats seeks to blunt a U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision in January that allows corporations, trade associations and labor unions, among other groups, to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

"What we are facing is no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections. And what is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy," Obama said, urging lawmakers to pass the legislation before the November general election.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced legislation in their respective chambers to reform the campaign finance system in the wake of the high court decision, known as Citizens United, in which the majority of justices said nation's campaign finance limits violated the free speech rights of corporations.

Their bill is designed to disclose the corporate backers of corporate groups' campaign ads. The law would require chief executives to offer an "I approved this message" stamp to campaign ads, similar to those required of political candidates running campaign commercials.

The law, opposed by business groups, also would ban foreign-owned companies and their U.S. subsidiaries from campaign spending, as well as bar government contractors from spending money to influence elections.

The House bill has two Republican co-sponsors: U.S. Reps. Mike Castle, R-Del., and Walter Jones, R-N.C.

In a statement Saturday, Van Hollen said he was pleased to have the president's support.

"I welcome the president's support," Van Hollen said. "With cynicism and mistrust running high, it is critical that we strengthen the integrity of our political process. With its focus on transparency, the Disclose Act aims to do just that."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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