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Jan. 21, 2011  

One Year Later, Movement Is Growing to Overturn Citizens United

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

The theory and practice of the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission are incompatible with a well-functioning democracy.

One year and one election after the decision, we know that Citizens United remade the electoral landscape. Not only did it enable corporations to write large checks to affect who would and would not be elected, but it also established that Wild West rules would prevail for campaign 2010. The 2010 campaign and the 2010 election results were influenced quite considerably by Citizens United.

Citizens United has cast a shadow over all policymaking, because elected officials now know that if they cross powerful corporate interests, they face the prospect of an unaccountable, outside campaign to defeat them in the next election.

A growing people’s movement - a movement of real, live, breathing humans, not corporations - is now rising to demand this legal abomination be undone. We are, together, building a movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Today, Public Citizen and allies will present three-quarters of a million signatures to Congress, asking for passage of an amendment. Across the country, there will be 100 demonstrations, rallies, theatrical performances, house parties and more - all calling for a constitutional amendment. And a new campaign, Business for Democracy, coordinated by the American Sustainable Business Council and involving Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s, is today being launched to support the citizen movement for a constitutional amendment.

We, the People insist that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the free speech rights of people, not corporations. We, the People insist that democracy is “rule by the people,” not corporations.

In 50 years, Americans will look back on Citizens United with the same abhorrence with which we now view of the court’s most ignoble decisions.

The question is not if, but when Citizens United will be overturned. We can’t wait for a majority on the Supreme Court to come to their senses. The fast-growing constitutional amendment movement is committed to asserting the people’s will to restore the First Amendment and rescue our democracy.

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