A group of Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation [text, PDF] aimed at curbing foreign and corporate influence in elections after a recent Supreme Court [official website] decision eased restrictions on campaign spending [JURIST report]. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [Cornell LII backgrounder], the Supreme Court struck down Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [text, PDF], which prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an "electioneering communication" or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. According to a press release [text], the legislation, entitled the DISCLOSE Act, seeks to:
partly restore those limits - by barring foreign-controlled corporations, government contractors and companies that have received government assistance from making political expenditures - and also require corporations, unions, and other organizations that make political expenditures to disclose their donors and stand by their ads.The lawmakers hope to pass the DISCLOSE Act by July 4 so that it will take effect for the 2010 elections.
US President Barack Obama has sharply criticized the Supreme Court's holding in Citizens United, most notably [JURIST reports] in this year's State of the Union speech. Obama warned of the increased potential for powerful interest groups, both foreign and domestic, to wield excessive influence over American elections and called for bipartisan support of legislation to counteract the decision. Earlier this month, the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] held a hearing [JURIST report] on the effects of the Citizens United decision.