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Bipartisan Vote by Illinois Senate Calls on Congress to Overturn Citizens United

May 14, 2013 

Bipartisan Vote by Illinois Senate Calls on Congress to Overturn Citizens United

Senate Joint Resolution 27 Moves to Illinois House

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. With a bipartisan 37-9 vote today by the state Senate, Illinois came one step closer to becoming the 14th state to back a constitutional amendment to curb unlimited spending in elections. Senators approved Senate Joint Resolution 27, adding to the national momentum to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

In its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court unleashed a flood of corporate money into our political system by ruling that, contrary to longstanding precedents, corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat candidates. The decision overturned a century of campaign finance law and led to record spending by outside groups and super PACs in the 2012 elections.

“The Illinois Senate vote comes just weeks after West Virginia and Maine became the 12th and 13th states to reject Citizens United,” said Aquene Freechild, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “Momentum against the unpopular ruling is growing rapidly.”

Illinois Senate Joint Resolution 27 is sponsored by Sens. Heather Steans (D-07), Karen McConnaughay (R-33) and Pamela Althoff (R-32). The resolution states that the legislators “respectfully, but emphatically disagree with the … decisions of the United States Supreme Court and call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, Speech Now.org v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo and other related cases that allow for unlimited election spending.” The resolution will now move to the Illinois House.

The bipartisan support for the resolution echoes the strong support shown in poll after poll by Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike for an amendment overturning Citizens United.  Strong citizen enthusiasm across parties was manifest in 10 local Illinois ballot initiatives that passed with support between 65 and 85 percent in the last election, from Kane County to Chicago to Galesburg.

Thirteen other states have called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United –  California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia – as has Washington, D.C. Nearly 500 local municipalities have called for a constitutional amendment, including 13 cities in Illinois.

The Illinois Campaign to Overturn Citizens United is led by Common Cause Illinois, Illinois PIRG, Public Citizen, MoveOn, Move to Amend and a number of other Illinois groups.