Clinton outlined her Supreme Court priorities during this month's final presidential debate, saying that reversing the flow of big money into politics would be a key goal if she got to choose justices.
She said she wanted to appoint justices who would "stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our election system."
The Citizens United v. FEC ruling threw out the ban on corporations and unions making independent expenditures in support of or against candidates. The decision has for some symbolized the increased flow of money from large donors and independent groups into the electoral process, drawing ire from some officials on both sides of the aisle.
Reversing Citizens United or reforming campaign finance law would earn Clinton points with the progressive wing of her party, as it could reduce the influence corporations and outside interests have on elections. Outside groups have spent $1.2 billion in this election through Monday, up from $922 million at the same point in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. About 75 percent of the donations to the groups have been fully disclosed, as super PACs are required to report their donors but other groups like 501(c)(4)s are not.
Though Clinton would have some tools at her disposal to make campaign finance a priority if she wins, meaningful reform could prove arduous, experts said.
Beyond appointing Supreme Court justices who would side with her on the issue, Clinton could put campaign finance-minded officials in the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, said Norm Eisen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and President Barack Obama's former ethics czar. He added that Clinton would also have to focus on getting another case to the Supreme Court, possibly the SpeechNow.org v. FEC case in which an appellate court said certain contribution limits were unconstitutional.
But getting a case to the Supreme Court could take "seven or eight years" even if Clinton gets her chosen justices approved, said Steven Billet, director of the master's program in legislative affairs at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management.
Clinton's own backers in her current presidential run could also complicate her priorities in a possible presidency, especially if she plans to run again in 2020. The huge super PAC backing Clinton, Priorities USA Action, has raised about $175 million in this cycle, more than any other super PAC has. It is fueled by multimillion-dollar donations from hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman and financier George Soros, among other wealthy contributors.
However, Eisen said Clinton would have a difficult time abandoning the issue because of how much she's discussed it on the campaign trail.
"She's talked over and over again about addressing Citizens United. It's not so easy to back away from that. People really care about this so there will be some accountability," he said.
GWU's Billet added Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, progressive favorites who have stumped for Clinton, could push the issue of campaign finance reform in a possible Clinton administration.