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Jan. 13, 2012  

As Anniversary of Citizens United Looms, Public Citizen Highlights Urgent Need for a Constitutional Amendment

Next Week to Feature Rallies and Events Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling looms, thousands of people across the country will stage demonstrations, rallies, protests and other actions to magnify the urgent need to overturn the decision and ensure democracy is for people – not corporations.

The actions highlight growing disgust with the court’s ruling and an increasing awareness of the corrupting influence corporations have over politics.

Activists working with Public Citizen are involved in more than 150 actions across the country, from Minnesota to Texas and California to North Carolina. Many will be “Occupying the Corporations” by demonstrating in front of a multinational corporation in their town, such as Bank of America or Chevron, to call out large corporations for usurping their democracy.

In addition, Public Citizen will be holding rallies in California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont with state lawmakers and allied organizations to highlight the push for resolutions in those state legislatures to overturn Citizens United.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, issued on Jan. 21, 2010, said that corporations can spend unlimited sums to influence elections. The effect on that year’s midterm congressional elections was immediate, and we are once again seeing massive amounts of corporate money being funneled into the presidential primaries.

Citizens United subverts the essence of democracy, which means rule by the people,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision with a constitutional amendment is the first step in fixing our broken political system and opening the door to address the great challenges facing the country, from putting people back to work to averting catastrophic climate change.”

Public Citizen is working with more than 60 organizations committed to overturning the Supreme Court’s decision via a constitutional amendment. Under the United For the People banner, the organizations, representing millions of activists around the country, are working to harness the grassroots power of the vast majority of Americans who believe there is too much money in politics. As the second anniversary of Citizens United approaches, this expanding network of organizations is coordinating a series of actions from grassroots gatherings to rallies at courthouses and corporate headquarters across the nation. A complete list of organizations and actions is available at www.United4ThePeople.org. Information about Public Citizen’s amendment campaign is available at www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org.

In the wake of the Citizens United ruling, campaign spending by outside groups has skyrocketed.In the 2010 election cycle, the first since the Supreme Court ruling, outside groups spent nearly $300 million. Super PACs have emerged, amassing huge amounts of money used for attack ads, such as those aired in Iowa by Restore Our Future, the Mitt Romney-supporting Super PAC, against Newt Gingrich. Meanwhile, Republican strategist Karl Rove and his Crossroads groups have announced plans to raise and spend $240 million in the 2012 elections. The Koch brothers plan to spend $200 million. All this corporate money promises to help make this election record-setting.

As the effects of the decision have become known, alarm is growing. City councils ranging from Los Angeles and New York to Duluth, Minn., and South Miami, Fla., have decried the ruling and have passed resolutions calling for an amendment to overturn it.

Federal lawmakers have introduced 10 resolutions calling for an amendment to the Constitution that would overturn Citizens United. One, in the U.S. Senate, already has 20 co-sponsors.

Public Citizen was part of the legal team representing lawmakers in the Citizens United case. The day after the decision was issued, Public Citizen began organizing to overturn it.

“The groundswell of national grassroots activity in support of a constitutional amendment we’re seeing is tremendous,” said Mark Hays, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People Campaign. “With this sort of momentum, we’re ready to write the next chapter of our campaign to ensure that democracy is for people, not corporations.”

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