Ted Cruz Warns Vague Campaign-Finance Amendment Could Threaten 'Saturday Night Live' Satire

September 10th, 2014 8:20 AM

Politico’s Lucy McCalmont reports that Sen. Ted Cruz argues that parodies on “Saturday Night Live” could be illegal under a new campaign-finance constitutional amendment proposed by Democrats trying to cracking down on political speech by corporations.

“Well, NBC which airs Saturday Night Live, is a corporation,” Cruz said, reminding other Senators of all the satirized politicians, from Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush and Al Gore.

“Who can forget in 2008, Saturday Night Live’s wickedly funny characterization of the Republican vice presidential nominee,  Sarah Palin? It was wickedly funny and also [had] a profoundly powerful effect on people’s assessment of Gov. Palin, who’s a friend of mine.” It wasn't as wickedly funny as "Dukakis After Dark," but Cruz was trying to talk to Democrats.

Cruz said he asked Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a former SNL writer now on the Senate Judiciary Committee, whether he believed Congress should prohibit SNL from making fun of politicians.

“Now the good senator promptly assured me he had no intention of doing any such thing,” Cruz said. However, Cruz added that the debate was not Franken’s intentions, but about how the amendment would be interpreted.

“Congress would have the power to make it a criminal offense, Lorne Michaels could be put in jail under this amendment for making fun of any politician. That is extraordinary. It is breathtaking and it is dangerous.”

Franken supports an amendment by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall (like Franken, up for re-election) to overturn recent Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, demanding very vaguely that to “advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and … protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes," Congress has the power to regulate campaign contributions “by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.”

Citizens United wasn't a court case over an advertisement. It was Democrats wanting to stop an anti-Hillary Clinton documentary by Citizens United from being offered on pay-for-view TV during the 2008 presidential primaries.