In a bid to loosen the stranglehold corporate money has on the political process and “restore democratic power to the American people,” a bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Thursday introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s deeply unpopular 2010 Citizens United decision.
“Let’s not mince words here—for too long, the needs of the American people have taken a backseat to the needs of corporations that dump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns.”
—Rep. Jim McGovern
“Let’s not mince words here—for too long, the needs of the American people have taken a backseat to the needs of corporations that dump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who introduced the “Democracy for All Amendment” alongside Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and John Katko (R-N.Y.).
“From gun violence to healthcare costs to climate change,” McGovern continued, “the issues Americans care about have been held hostage by wealthy special interests. No more. We have got to solve this, and we have to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision to restore the power of the ballot box and get big money out of politics.”
“Years after the Citizens United decision, election spending has exploded into billion-dollar races that corrupt our elections by drowning out the voices of American voters,” added Deutch. “Meaningful political participation cannot be reserved for individuals with extreme wealth and special interests, and we cannot continue to allow those who spend the most to dictate public policy that is out of step with our country.”
While U.S. campaign finance system’s problems hardly originated with Citizens United, the decision unleashed a flood of dark money into the political process. According to a recent analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Issue One, just 15 highly secretive groups were responsible for 75 percent of the more than $800 million in dark money political spending between 2010 and 2016.
In a statement applauding the newly unveiled constitutional amendment, Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said this surge in anonymous cash spurred by Citizens United has helped produce “a government responsive to corporate and super-rich demands, but derisive of overwhelming public support to guarantee health care to all, slash drug prices, raise the minimum wage, avert catastrophic climate change, and more.”
Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at Common Cause, echoed Weissman’s praise for the amendment, declaring, “When special interests and big corporations have undue influence over politics, our communities and our children suffer.”
“This common sense measure would bolster our constitutional values of political equality and democratic self-government when passing laws to advance the voices of all Americans in our democracy,” Scherb concluded.