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July 10, 2014

28th Amendment Advances; Will Help Restore Democracy, Reverse Rise of Oligarchy

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today will consider and vote on S.J. Res. 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that aims to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and other U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decisions. Public Citizen will be available to comment on the amendment after today’s markup.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on S.J. Res. 19 today will bring us one step closer to adopting the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and will give We the People – through Congress as well as state and local governments – the ability to regulate and limit campaign spending by Big Business and the super-rich.

The amendment is crucial to strengthening and restoring the First Amendment, which has been weakened and distorted by a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Specifically, the amendment would overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and its misguided holding that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as real, live, breathing human beings to influence election outcomes. It will overturn McCutcheon v. FEC, with its holding that the only justification for limits on campaign donations is to prevent criminal bribery. And it will overturn Buckley v. Valeo – the case holding that “money equals speech” and imposing Supreme Court-made constitutional obstacles to imposing limits on what can be spent on elections.

We’ve now seen the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers take notice of the overwhelming public demand for far-reaching action to restore our democracy. In the coming weeks, we’ll see those defenders and advocates of the 21st Century Gilded Age leverage their power and money to oppose a constitutional amendment that threatens their grip on American politics. The tide of history is against them, however. The day is not long away when Americans will celebrate the 28th Amendment and the return of control over our elections and our country to We the People.

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