Last night, Public Citizen, along with our allies at Free Speech for People, hosted an online conversation featuring Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and superstar activist for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to secret corporate money in elections). The court is likely to hand down another decision soon that could further increase corruption of our democratic election system.
During yesterday’s webinar, Ben Cohen, Public Citizen’s Robert Weissman and Jonah Minkoff-Zern, and Free Speech For People’s John Bonifaz discussed how a bad ruling in the case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission could fundamentally reshape how candidates and political parties raise money.
These leaders of the movement for a constitutional amendment to prevent corporations and the 1% from dominating our elections also called on activists to join our campaign to fight back on the day the court hands down what’s likely to be a harmful decision in the McCutcheon case. We hope you and your friends and neighbors can get involved in the events planned across the country!
Did you miss the webinar? If so, you can watch a replay here:
Plutocracy or democracy; the rich or the rest of us; legalized bribery or law and order; corruption or common sense.
The choice facing the U.S. Supreme Court today in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission could not be clearer.
If the court decides to strike down limits on what an individual can give directly to candidates, parties and PACs, the real-world impact is plain enough. A few hundred people will be empowered to spend millions to buy elections.
We will see a rise in corruption both as the public understands the term – meaning the entire political system will shift still more to favor the super-rich – and as the Supreme Court defines it – meaning quid pro quo corruption.
There is reason to hope the court will decide to uphold current giving limits. Striking down the aggregate limit rule will require abandoning the underpinnings of Buckley v. Valeo, the foundation of current campaign spending law.
So, we must hope the court respects precedent and common sense.
But we shouldn’t have to hope. That’s why it’s time for a constitutional amendment to restore our democracy – an amendment that firmly establishes the people’s right to control campaign spending and ensure that we maintain a government of, by and for the people – not the superwealthy and giant corporations.
In order to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Public Citizen is pushing for a constitutional amendment to limit spending in elections. Already, the fight to get corporate money out of politics has 16 states on its side – almost half the number of states it would take to ratify an amendment.
So far, 111 lawmakers have co-sponsored such an amendment in this legislative session. But, 111 does not come close to the 67-vote supermajority in the Senate and 290-vote supermajority in the House of Representatives necessary to pass one.
So in the next month, Public Citizen’s Democracy is For People campaign is taking the momentum from the states that have backed an amendment and calling or visiting lawmakers who have failed to co-sponsor a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Today, Illinois became the 14th state to call for a constitutional amendment to rid elections of corporate money and unlimited spending. This bipartisan action by the Illinois General Assembly demonstrates continuing national momentum to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
Illinois is the third state in the past month and a half to call for an amendment; West Virginia and Maine passed similar resolutions last month.
The effort in Illinois was bipartisan, underscoring what poll data have shown: People of all political stripes are deeply concerned about corporations having too much influence over our democratic process. A measure calling for a constitutional amendment was on ballots across Illinois in November and was supported by three-quarters of voters.
We couldn’t be more excited about the new constitutional amendment proposal introduced today by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) to end unlimited and undisclosed corporate financing of American elections. The amendment proposal is titled the “Democracy Is For People” Amendment, after Public Citizen’s amendment campaign of the same name.
Public Citizen said that both lawmakers once again are showing their creative leadership in the campaign for a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Sanders and Deutch were at the forefront of the campaign immediately following the decision, and they continue their leadership today.
Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, pictured above in front of the U.S. Capitol Building leading a protest on the first anniversary of the Citizens United ruling, said:
“The Democracy is for People Amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ted Deutch to overturn Citizens United will eliminate unaccountable corporate spending in our elections and restore governmental authority over campaign spending to the people. Democracy is rule by the people, after all, not rule by Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”