Citizens United v. FEC

Hold Senate hearings on amending the Constitution to remedy Citizens United

February 14, 2012

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Durbin, Chairman
The Honorable Lindsey Graham, Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen Leahy and Durbin and Ranking Members Grassley and Graham:

We are writing to request that the Senate Judiciary Committee hold hearings this year on the need to amend the Constitution to remedy the damage done to our nation by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and related cases. That decision, along with prior and subsequent cases, have unleashed a flood of corporate and special interest money that threatens to undermine the integrity of our elections and our democracy.

In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to influence elections, thereby ruling that governmental restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections are invalid and unconstitutional. As to that astounding principle, Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that the framers “had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind.”

Congress may pass legislation to try to mitigate the effects of this decision, for example to provide for public disclosure of election expenditures. But such measures, while beneficial, cannot undo the harm done by the Court in Citizens United v. FEC. Only amending the Constitution can fully secure the American people’s authority to regulate corporate influence in our elections and restore our democracy.

So far in the 112th Congress, there have been 13 constitutional amendment resolutions about this issue introduced in the House and Senate. While these resolutions vary in scope and approach, they all were introduced because of the growing realization that the problems created by Citizens United and related decisions are so immense and so fundamental that they can only be addressed through constitutional remedies.

Americans have become increasingly distressed at the toxic effects of unrestrained corporate and special interest money that is influencing our political system. Fully 92% of the American people believe that the extent of corporate influence on our political system is a problem. Just one month after the Citizens United decision, polling revealed that eighty percent of Americans opposed the ruling.

As activists have mobilized and protested across the country on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Court’s decision, and as city and county councils and state legislatures take up and pass resolutions calling for amending the Constitution to reverse Citizens United, it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the Court’s decision.

We urge you to use this session of the 112th Congress to advance the very healthy and critical debate about how the Constitution should be amended to return our democracy to the people.

Sincerely,

350.org
A New Way Forward
African American Ministers in Action
Alliance for Democracy
Americans for Democratic Action
Backbone Campaign
Campaign for America's Future
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
CivicSponsor
Codepink
Coffee Party
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Consumer Action
Consumer Watchdog
Democrats.com
Earthworks
East Bay Citizens for Action
Ethical Markets
Food Empowerment Project
Free Speech for People
Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace
Indiana Alliance for Democracy
Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Project
International Forum on Globalization
Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Main Street Alliance
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Move to Amend
MoveOn
National Education Association
Oil Change International
People For the American Way
Pesticide Action Network North America
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Rebuild the Dream
Roots Action
Story of Stuff
Sum of Us
The Other 98%
U.S. PIRG
United Republic
We the People Campaign
Where's Our Money
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Wolf PAC
Working Families Win

cc: Senate Judiciary Committee, Members

President Obama Supports Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Yesterday, President Obama announced his support of a constitutional amendment to reign in special interest money in elections. With his support the growing movement pushing to amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United is gaining even more momentum. The diverse coalition comprised of millions of Americans, small business owners and organizations concerned about the undue influence that corporations wield in our democracy has been raising its voice, and now our elected representatives in city halls and state legislatures, in Congress and even the White House are listening and taking action.

The Supreme Court’s flawed decision that opened our electoral system to unlimited, undisclosed and unregulated corporate spending on our elections needs to be undone. As the president’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, noted in a blog post, President Obama has always opposed the Citizens United decision and views a constitutional amendment as a potential solution:

The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, declares that a constitutional amendment is in fact, necessary, in a statement released to the press this morning:

Citizens United opened the floodgates to a wave of corporate and special interest money in our elections. Since then, Americans from across the political spectrum have joined together to support amending the Constitution to reverse the damage done by the Supreme Court and limit corporate and special interest influence in our democracy. As Justice Stevens pointed out in his dissent, there are problems with our political system, but few people would argue that a shortage of money is one of them.

Amending the Constitution is the only way to completely overturn the Court’s decision, and President Obama should be applauded for lending his support to the movement to restore democracy to the people. Americans of all parties and ideologies support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases.

This is a movement moment. Americans are sick and tired of government that puts the interests of the wealthy above the needs of ordinary people. Momentum for a constitutional amendment is growing every day.

 

PFAW

President Obama Supports Consitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Yesterday, President Obama announced his support of a constitutional amendment to reign in special interest money in elections. With his support the growing movement pushing to amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United is gaining even more momentum. The diverse coalition comprised of millions of Americans, small business owners and organizations concerned about the undue influence that corporations wield in our democracy has been raising its voice, and now our elected representatives in city halls and state legislatures, in Congress and even the White House are listening and taking action.

The Supreme Court’s flawed decision that opened our electoral system to unlimited, undisclosed and unregulated corporate spending on our elections needs to be undone. As the president’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, noted in a blog post, President Obama has always opposed the Citizens United decision and views a constitutional amendment as a potential solution:

The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action—by constitutional amendment, if necessary—to place reasonable limits on all such spending.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, declares that a constitutional amendment is in fact, necessary, in a statement released to the press this morning:

Citizens United opened the floodgates to a wave of corporate and special interest money in our elections. Since then, Americans from across the political spectrum have joined together to support amending the Constitution to reverse the damage done by the Supreme Court and limit corporate and special interest influence in our democracy. As Justice Stevens pointed out in his dissent, there are problems with our political system, but few people would argue that a shortage of money is one of them.

Amending the Constitution is the only way to completely overturn the Court’s decision, and President Obama should be applauded for lending his support to the movement to restore democracy to the people. Americans of all parties and ideologies support amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and related cases.

This is a movement moment. Americans are sick and tired of government that puts the interests of the wealthy above the needs of ordinary people. Momentum for a constitutional amendment is growing every day.

 

PFAW

PFAW Applauds Obama's Endorsement of Constitutional Amendment

People For the American Way today applauded President Obama for his support for amending the Constitution to repair the damage done by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and stop unlimited corporate spending to influence elections.

PFAW Panel: Constitutional Remedies to Overturn Citizens United

PFAW is hosting a panel on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and state and local lawmakers to showcase the rapidly growing movement across the country to address the threat to our democracy from unrestrained corporate spending to influence our elections, made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

A Movement Moment: Growing Support for Overturning Citizens United

Over 60 organizations have joined United For the People, a grassroots movement to overturn Citizens United v. FEC

Over 60 Organizations Join United For the People

PFAW Praises Yarmuth-Jones Amendment to Protect Democratic Principles

Today, Congressmen John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced a constitutional amendment to restore fairness to our electoral system. The resolution addresses harm caused by the Supreme Court’s flawed decision in Citizens United by declaring that spending on elections does not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment, giving Congress the authority to create a public financing system as the sole source of funding for federal elections and designating a national holiday for the purpose of voting.

PFAW Praises Ellison Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

Representative Keith Ellison (MN-5) introduced the “Get Corporate Money Out of Politics Amendment” today, a constitutional amendment that would empower Congress to regulate corporate influence in elections

PFAW Praises Ellison Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

PFAW Praises Ellison Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

Representative Keith Ellison (MN-5) introduced the “Get Corporate Money Out of Politics Amendment” today, a constitutional amendment that would empower Congress to regulate corporate influence in elections. The amendment would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v.

PFAW Applauds House Introduction of Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

Rep. Betty Sutton, Democrat of Ohio, joined by Reps. Martin Heinrich, Chellie Pingree, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jim McDermott, introduced yesterday a constitutional amendment (H.J. Res. 86) to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizen’s United v. FEC

PFAW Commends Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

To restore the ability of Congress and the states to regulate corporate influence in elections, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) , along with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have introduced a constitutional amendment that would reverse the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The ruling, which granted corporations the same Free Speech rights as people to spend money in support of or against candidates for office, has led to an unprecedented flood of corporate money in elections across the United States, often under the cover of anonymity.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“In Citizens United, the Supreme Court put our democracy up for sale, and as a result, a constitutional amendment is the only way to completely stop the flood of special interest spending in our election system. I commend Senators Udall, Bennet, Harkin and the other supporters for taking this step toward bringing integrity and transparency back to the electoral process. The American people – not deep pocketed corporations – should be the loudest voice when we choose our leaders.”

Groups supporting a constitutional amendment to reverse the damage caused by Citizens United have collected over 750,000 signatures. You can sign People For the American Way’s petition asking congressional leaders to ensure that the government has the authority to limit corporate influence in elections here.

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Gingrich’s Radical Plan to Weaken the Judiciary

At this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, and again on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, former House speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stated that as president, he would urge Congress to subpoena federal judges whose decisions he disagreed with and even ignore Supreme Court rulings that he believes are wrong.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards Introduces Constitutional Amendment To Reverse Citizens United

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a constitutional amendment that would restore to Congress and the states the authority to regulate corporate spending on political activity, including contributions in support of or in opposition to a candidate for public office. This proposed amendment seeks to overturn the Supreme Court’s deeply flawed decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which granted corporations the same Free Speech rights as people to spend money to influence elections. The amendment is similar to one introduced in the last Congress, and was introduced with the support of 14 other co-sponsors.

“We applaud this bold step by Representatives Edwards and Conyers to place limits on the corporate spending on elections which is hurtling out of control. It is time that we take down the for sale sign on our democracy and constitutional remedies such as that proposed by Representatives Edwards and Conyers are the only meaningful way to do that,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way. “Reversing the damage caused by Citizens United is absolutely crucial to making sure that the American people – and not the deepest-pocketed corporations – hold the keys to our democracy. The pro-corporate Supreme Court is taking us down a slippery slope, and it’s time for bold steps to preserve the democratic promise of government by the people.”

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The Supreme Court vs. Individual Americans in the Citizens United Era: What’s on Tap for the Coming Supreme Court Term

A new PFAW Foundation memo examines cases on the Supreme Court docket that will affect the balance of power between individual citizens and giant corporations in the courtroom in the Citizens United era.

PFAW Foundation Report Uncovers the Roberts Court's Pro-Corporate Agenda

A new People For the American Way Foundation report, The Citizens United Era: How the Supreme Court Continues to Put Business First, examines how the Supreme Court’s ultra conservative majority is working to reshape our Constitution and elevate corporate interests above the rights of individual Americans. Beginning with the 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Roberts Court has handed down a steady stream of decisions that allow enormous corporations to benefit at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The Citizens United Era: How the Supreme Court Continues to Put Business First

A new PFAW Foundation report examines how the Supreme Court's conservative majority is working to reshape our Constitution and elevate corporate interests above the rights of individual Americans. Beginning with the 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Roberts Court has handed down a steady stream of decisions that allow enormous corporations to use their significant resource advantage to influence the law in their favor.

The True Spirit of the Union

If you ask people what part of the U.S. Constitution has been most critical for advancing social progress, many would say the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. But a powerful case can be made that the most important constitutional instrument for social progress in our history has been the Commerce Clause

PFAW Foundation Stands with Americans to Expose ALEC

Today, a group of concerned Americans held a press conference outside of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s summer meeting in New Orleans.

Americans Hurt by ALEC "Model Bills" Speak Out at ALEC Annual Meeting as Corporate Members & Politicians Vote on More State Legislation

On Wednesday, August 3, a teacher, a small business owner, a reverend and a disenfranchised voter will speak out at a press conference to unveil the real human toll of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s "model bills."
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