Amendment proposed to overturn Citizens United decision

Citizens United decisionDemocratic Senators Michael Bennet (CO) and Tom Udall (NM) introduced a constitutional amendment yesterday that would effectively overturn the controversial Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Citizens United was the decision that said, in effect, “corporations (and unions) are people” and freed them to contribute huge amounts of money to political campaigns in virtual anonymity. The amendment doesn’t directly address the court’s finding but instead would add to the Constitution language that says Congress and the states can regulate and limit campaign contributions and expenditures.

The problem with campaign financing did not originate with the Citizens United case, however, but with the Buckley v Valeo decision in 1976. It set limits on campaign contributions but ruled that spending money to influence elections was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are co-sponsoring the proposed amendment.

Previously, a law proposed by the Democrats to mitigate the effects of the Citizens United decision was beaten down by a Republican filibuster, and Congress hasn’t changed must since then. It’s likely this effort also will be blocked by the G.O.P., but it’s good to know someone is trying to do something about the grossly misguided Supreme Court decision that sold out U.S. voters and their election system. We saw what happened in the last election — huge amounts of advertising and influence purchased by vaguely named organizations representing out-of-state (and, some said, international) interests. Our system was perverted and the wishes of the voters superseded in many cases by the wishes of mysterious, unidentified special interests.

Citizens United must not stand.

8 comments

  1. Like you, I’m not hopeful that this will get anywhere. But any effort to reduce all the misleading crap spouting from my TV is most welcome.

    BTW, I hear you guys have a blizzard on the way. 😯 I guess we’ll be having another frosty diarrhea mess on out hands in a few days… 😦

    1. Nope, blizzard’s over. I’m debating whether to try to shovel any of it out of my driveway. I would just let it melt, but I have two trash cans out at the curb that I need to retrieve.

  2. There is much riding on the 2012 election, and this issue is unlikely to be affected in any other way than by changes to the SC’s makeup. Ironically, the election itself will probably be affected by the CU decision. The image in my head is one of circling the drain.

    1. But the SC has already ruled on this case. Changes to the SC will affect future decisions, but not this one. Even if another campaign finance case is brought, the court will rule according to existing law and precedent. Citizens United was the judicial branch checking the legislative branch with a legal ruling. Now the legislative branch needs to check the judicial with a new law. Changing the court’s makeup is a long, tedious, very uncertain way to change law (and “stacking the court” is a dirty business). Amendments are equally long and tedious to effect, but the result is certain. There’s no saving the 2012 election from the ugliness and chaos that’s going to result from Citizens United — think 2008 x 10 — but perhaps it will result eventually in Congress passing some new campaign finance laws.

      1. Yes, I know full well that it’s too late to affect spending for 2012. The point I had in mind was the long-term one you mention. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right? 🙂

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