Usually, standing ovations at the Netroots Nation conference are given to keynote speakers in the cavernous hall where everyone converges to hear people like Elizabeth Warren and MSNBC host Ed Schultz.
But a panel discussion this morning on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision drew hoots and hollers of support as well as two standing ovations from an energized audience.
Public Citizen President Robert Weissman shared the stage with U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards; Marge Baker, executive vice president for policy and program at People for the American Way; and Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. Weissman and Baker unveiled a new campaign launched by both organizations to urge candidates for Congress to pledge to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling if they are elected.
The prime question, Weissman said, is “whether Goldman Sachs and Exxon have the right to buy elections. ” The Supreme Court , he explained, answered yes.
Edwards noted that 17 years ago, she worked for Public Citizen. Her first week on the job, she had to debate Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Nightline. He was arguing against basic campaign finance measures – the same argument he is making today, she said.
Corporate America “doesn’t just want to influence the process,” she said. “It wants to OWN the process.” Urge candidates to pledge to overturn the court’s ruling, she said, “and then hold them to it.”
Added Grayson, “Corporations now have the rights human beings will never have. … This really is a threat to our democracy.”
Public Citizen’s “Citizens United against Citizens United” stickers were snapped up by the audience, as well as materials about the ruling.