July 17, 2012 is the date set for the hearing to examine pending constitutional proposals to remedy the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has asked Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) to hold the hearing. A number of constitutional amendments have been introduced and will be examined during the hearing.
The most comprehensive and effective is The Fair Elections Now Act (S. 750 and H.R. 1404). Unfortunately, the widely accepted perception is that this bill has no chance and all expectations are for it to be “shelved” during this hearing. It was re-introduced in 2011 in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and in the House of Representatives by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.), Walter Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). The bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want. Essentially the bill creates a voluntary system that gives congressional candidates the option to stop raising huge sums of money, giving them more time to work on the people’s business by allowing qualified, legitimate candidates to receive grants, matching funds, and television vouchers to run competitive campaigns based on small dollar donors, not special interest money from lobbyists and corporations. For a more elaborate article on this hearing, please find my Call To Action published on United Republic on May 21, 2012.
Expressing support for this bill to the members of the subcommittee prior to July 17th is the only hope we citizens have for its continuance in the legislative process. If communication is not sufficient, this subcommittee will certainly determine on July 17th not to pursue it further. There are only 11 members – less than a dozen people – who will evaluate the viability of this bill:
Dick Durbin, Illinois (Chairman)
Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
Al Franken, Minnesota
Christopher A. Coons, Delaware
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Lindsey Graham, S.C. (Ranking Member)
Jon Kyl, Arizona
John Cornyn, Texas
Michael S. Lee, Utah
Tom Coburn, Oklahoma