- Professional Journalist
Last Friday, Louisville’s Democrat Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) once again introduced a Constitutional amendment to override a key element of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, which allowed people organized into corporations to exercise the same First Amendment free speech rights as individual citizens. The measure, H. J. Res. 53, would amend the Constitution so that financial expenditures and in-kind contributions would no longer qualify as forms of protected speech under the First Amendment.
Essentially the same attack on the First Amendment supported by Yarmuth in 2011--and each year since--the measure would also enable Congress to establish a public financing system for campaigns that would be the sole source of all outside campaign funding. This would make it easier for rich candidates like Yarmuth to get elected. Four years of failed attempts to change the First Amendment have not deterred his enthusiasm.
Even Little Johnny’s lefty friends over at the ACLU recoil at this blatant attack on free speech:
“In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that independent political expenditures by corporations and unions are protected under the First Amendment and not subject to restriction by the government. The Court therefore struck down a ban on campaign expenditures by corporations and unions that applied to non-profit corporations like Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association, as well as for-profit corporations like General Motors and Microsoft.
“Unfortunately, legitimate concern over the influence of ‘big money’ in politics has led some to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision. The ACLU will firmly oppose any constitutional amendment that would limit the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”
On his congressional web page, Yarmuth pontificates: “Corporate money equals influence, not free speech. By allowing big money to flood our elections, the Supreme Court has further eroded our democracy and left us with endless year-round campaigns... Until we get big money out of politics, we’ll never truly be able to responsibly address the major issues that hardworking American families face. This Constitutional amendment will help to restore our democracy and put elections back in the hands of the people—where they belong.”
And, yet, Yarmuth’s campaign contribution reports show that his disdain for corrupt corporate influence does not stop him from accepting money from his largest contributors: Brown-Forman Corp., Sonny's Franchise Co., United Parcel Service, Ford Motor Co., General Electric, Honeywell International, McKesson Corp., and Kindred Healthcare.
Such palpable hypocrisy might slow a lesser man down; but Johnny Yarmuth will proceed again this year. Doing the same thing over and over again. Expecting a different result.
A copy of Yarmuth’s attack on the First Amendment can be found here. HJRes53