John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday about Congressional Democrat’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment. Part of this attempt would insure that incumbent politicians would be able to stay in office indefinitely–opponents would be prevented from raising the amount of money necessary to achieve the name recognition needed to be viable candidates. A hearing on the bill was held yesterday.
The article lists some of the details of the law, which is sponsored by Tom Udall:
Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—
(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and
(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates. …
Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.
States would also be given similar powers.
Here are a few quotes from the ACLU‘s letter to Congress opposing the bill:
To give just a few hypotheticals of what would be possible in a world where the Udall proposal is the 28th Amendment:
• Congress would be allowed to restrict the publication of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming memoir “Hard Choices” were she to run for office;
• Congress could criminalize a blog on the Huffington Post by Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, that accuses Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) of being a “climate change denier”;
• Congress could regulate this website by reform group Public Citizen, which urges voters to contact their members of Congress in support of a constitutional amendment addressing Citizens United and the recent McCutcheon case, under the theory that it is, in effect, a sham issue communication in favor of the Democratic Party;
• A state election agency, run by a corrupt patronage appointee, could use state law to limit speech by anti-corruption groups supporting reform;
• A local sheriff running for reelection and facing vociferous public criticism for draconian immigration policies and prisoner abuse could use state campaign finance laws to harass and prosecute his own detractors;
• A district attorney running for reelection could selectively prosecute political opponents using state campaign finance restrictions; and
• Congress could pass a law regulating this letter for noting that all 41 sponsors of this amendment, which the ACLU opposes, are Democrats (or independents who caucus with Democrats).
Such examples are not only plausible, they are endless.
This proposed law is one example of the reason term limits for politicians would be a really good idea. One of the major effects of this law would be to insure that incumbents would remain in office. It is an unfortunate fact of life that any limit on campaign donations gives an advantage to incumbent office holders–they have access to the press and can stage press events. Candidates running against them have a much more difficult time getting the attention of the press–therefore they are forced to spend money on campaign ads in order to be viable candidates.