President Barack Obama called for restrictions to be put on political speech during a Wednesday “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” session on the website Reddit, an Internet link-sharing community.
Obama proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which held that unlimited campaign-related expenditures by individuals or groups were protected under the First Amendment. This decision allowed super PACs, which can spend unlimited amounts of money, to form and influence the political process.
Obama also called on Congress to pass the Disclose Act, which would require any organization that spends more than $10,000 on election-related activities to disclose all of its donors who have contributed more than $10,000.
Obama made these comments, which would restrict speech, on the Internet, which has long been a free speech safe haven.
Reddit user “suzmerk” asked Obama, “What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?”
In response, Obama wrote Congress needed to pass the Disclose Act, and Americans needed “to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United.”
“Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change,” Obama asserted.
Obama wrote that “money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs.”
“They fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens,” he warned.
Obama’s chief political strategist David Axelrod and some of Obama’s senior advisers have floated the idea of proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in Obama’s second term, but this was the first time Obama publicly expressed support for such a measure.
The Disclose Act would chill political speech because many donors would fear retribution and would not donate if their donations are publicly disclosed.
The Citizens United decision allows for documentaries unfavorable to Obama, like “The Hope and The Change,” to be produced and disseminated.
Headline image created by an anonymous Redditor at Memegenerator.net.