Feb. 2, 2010

By Introducing Constitutional Amendment Proposal, Rep. Edwards Provides Needed Momentum to Counter Supreme Court Decision

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Public Citizen played a key role in the Citizens United case. Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson was a member of the legal team that represented the key congressional sponsors of the McCain-Feingold law. Public Citizen has launched a petition drive for a constitutional amendment, which can be found at www.DontGetRolled.org.

With its startling pro-corporate judicial activism in the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 majority has imperiled our democracy. The court's overreach is so shocking, and the certain consequences so damaging, that we must have a constitutional corrective.

Public Citizen thanks Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) for her courage and leadership in responding to the Supreme Court majority’s aggression with a proposal for a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment to its rightful purpose: guaranteeing the speech rights of real, live persons. The First Amendment was never intended to protect the likes of ExxonMobil, Pfizer or Goldman Sachs, nor should it.

If history is any guide, winning a constitutional amendment will take great effort over several years. We must have a national conversation about the terms of an amendment, then draft and redraft the text in close consultation with legal scholars. And we must organize on a mass scale, federally and in the states. Public Citizen and its allies will facilitate the necessary conversation and press forward with a campaign. Today, Rep. Edwards has given added momentum to this nascent and critically important effort. We applaud her and look forward to working with her to restore American democracy.