Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and once again allow for reasonable restrictions on corporate campaign contributions and other spending.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations and special interest groups could spend nearly unlimited funds on election campaigns. In the decade since, outside groups spent more than $4.4 billion in federal elections – nearly $1 billion of which was untraceable “dark money” – with some of the biggest contributors coming from Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, and the NRA.
“Thanks to one disastrous ruling, wealthy megadonors, corporations, and special interest groups have been able to influence elections when that power should belong with the American people. This has eroded faith in the government’s ability to deliver for the people and their families,” said Schiff. “Dark money should have no place in our democracy. It is time to return power to the people, and overturn Citizens United once and for all.”
Specifically, the amendment would make it clear the Constitution does not restrict the ability of Congress or the states to propose reasonable, content-neutral limitations on private campaign contributions and independent expenditures. It would also allow states to enact public campaign financing systems, which can restrict the influence of corporate and private wealth.
The amendment is co-sponsored by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), David Price (D-N.C.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), David Trone (D-Md.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii), and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.). It is also supported by Common Cause, Public Citizen, End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, People for the American Way, American Promise, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“Our democracy works best when everyone is represented and government works for all the people, not just the wealthy few,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “Several Supreme Court decisions, like Citizens United and McCutcheon, have eroded our campaign finance laws and given wealthy special interests and corporations undue influence over our elections and the policy that comes afterward. Chairman Schiff’s proposed amendment would allow Congress and the states to restore balance and reduce the undue influence of money in the political process.”
“With Big Money swamping our elections and distorting policymaking, the American people are united in their desire for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related decisions. Americans want and need a country that belongs to and is governed by We the People, not We the Corporations. Thank you Rep. Schiff for again leading the way to safeguard our democracy!” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen.
“The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has weakened our democracy and allowed wealthy special interests to silence the voices of everyday people. Congressman Schiff’s amendment will unrig this system and end the dominance of big money in politics,” said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund.
“People For the American Way is committed to defending our democracy. As we continue pushing for essential voting rights reforms, we remain determined to root out big money influences in politics. We must stay focused on the harms inflicted by Citizens United and related cases. To that end, we welcome the reintroduction of Rep. Adam Schiff’s constitutional amendment, and we thank him for his steadfast leadership over the years,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way.
Click here to read the bill text.