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May 29, 2014

Upcoming Senate Hearing on Constitutional Amendment Reflects Nationwide Momentum

16 States and 550 Localities Back an Amendment; More Than 2 Million Signatures Will Be Delivered From People Demanding the Constitution Be Restored to Curb Influence of Wealthy Over Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Next week’s U.S. Senate hearing on a constitutional amendment to rein in campaign spending reflects a national movement to restore elections to the people – a movement that has grown rapidly in the wake of two disastrous U.S. Supreme Court rulings, Public Citizen said today.

On June 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a constitutional amendment to restore power to Congress and the states to control campaign spending. The hearing will focus on an amendment authored by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). View more information about the amendment (PDF).

Sixteen states, approximately 550 cities and towns, and more than 160 members of Congress have indicated support for an amendment. So has President Barack Obama.

The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. To indicate support, state legislatures either approved a resolution or signed a letter, or voters approved a ballot measure.

In addition, on the day of the hearing, more than 2 million signatures from people throughout the country in support of an amendment will be delivered to the U.S. Senate.

“The country desperately needs a constitutional amendment to enable Congress and the states to restore democracy to the people and counter the recent disastrous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCutcheon and Citizens United,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

In another indicator of the national temperament on the escalating amounts of money in politics, people staged 151 protests in 41 states on April 2, the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the court struck down the aggregate campaign spending limits, allowing the super-wealthy to contribute millions of dollars directly to candidates, political parties and joint fundraising committees.

“The American people are not just disgusted, they are angry and demanding far-reaching action to return control of our elections and our country to We the People,” Weissman said. “The upcoming Senate hearing and vote are key to reestablishing the core meaning of democracy: rule by the people.”

In Citizens United, decided in 2010, the justices gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. The ruling unleashed a torrent of dark money flooding the political system and drowning out the voices of ordinary voters. After McCutcheon, we can expect to see even more money being given directly to candidates, political parties and political committees.

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