Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that Republicans will fight attacks on Citizens United and other assaults on political expression during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute earlier today.
“Campaign contributions are speech,” said McConnell. “If we lose the right to speak, we’ve lost the battle before it starts.”
The left has decried the Citizens United decision since the beginning, but the recent Wisconsin recall election reenergized efforts to fight it. Despite the fact that Citizens United had little impact on the election spending in Wisconsin, progressives blamed it for their loss and seem determined to make it a top issue in the presidential election.
The latest example is David Axelrod, who promised earlier this week that if Obama wins a second term, he will pursue any option — including a constitutional amendment — to restrict these rights:
“When we win, we will use whatever tools out there, including a constitutional amendment, to turn this back. I understand the free speech argument, but when the Koch brothers can spend $400 million, more than the McCain campaign and the Republican Party spent last time, that’s very concerning.”
At AEI, McConnell blasted Axelrod and the Obama administration for the proposal.
“Amending the First Amendment for the first time in history is an act of radicalism,” said McConnell.
There are other indications that the issue of political money will be back at the top of the news this summer. The Supreme Court reportedly met earlier this week to consider a Montana case that challenges some aspects of the Citizens United decision and a subsequent Appellate Court ruling on unlimited political contributions. The Los Angeles Times reports that the appeal isn’t expected to be denied, and the Supreme Court may either decide to hear the case or write a summary opinion defending the Citizens United ruling.
McConnell said as the election nears, some Republicans may be tempted “to take the issue off the table or make concessions.”
“My advice is to resist the temptation,” he said.