Make this the summer democracy wins

By Darci Kovacs

In order to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Public Citizen is pushing for a constitutional amendment to limit spending in elections. Already, the fight to get corporate money out of politics has 16 states on its side – almost half the number of states it would take to ratify an amendment.

Now, after an intensely successful two months—with Oregon, Delaware, West Virginia, Maine and Illinois all backing a constitutional amendment—Public Citizen is taking the fight to overturn Citizens United to Congress for the rest of the summer.

So far, 111 lawmakers have co-sponsored such an amendment in this legislative session. But, 111 does not come close to the 67-vote supermajority in the Senate and 290-vote supermajority in the House of Representatives necessary to pass one.

So in the next month, Public Citizen’s Democracy is For People campaign is taking the momentum from the states that have backed an amendment and calling or visiting lawmakers who have failed to co-sponsor a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

To get lawmakers on board, we need your help.

Members of Congress will heed our call only if they realize it is the call of their constituents as well. Let your member of Congress know you want them to help overturn Citizens United and ensure our country is truly of, by, and for the people.

Many amendments have been introduced in Congress, but the one Public Citizen most supports is the Democracy Is For People amendment introduced by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). This amendment would prevent corporations from spending money to influence elections and would enable the government to regulate campaign spending from individuals.

Contact your senators and representative now and ask them to support the Democracy Is For People amendment.

Citizens United gave corporations the ability to spend unlimited sums in elections. This was justified by the rationale that money is speech and that corporations are entitled to the constitutional right to spend unlimited amounts in elections. The ruling is responsible for making the 2012 elections the most expensive in history, costing $6 billion. During that time, corporations and the ultra-wealthy funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through trade associations and other groups that are not required to disclose their donors. The catastrophic consequences of Citizens United have drowned out the voices of the American people.

This is not a partisan issue—corporate money in politics is a systematic problem that affects each and every person. Poll after poll has shown that a large majority of Americans, regardless of political ideology, oppose the Citizens United ruling and the amount of corporate influence in politics today.

The transpartisan nature of this issue also can be seen on the state level. States such as Oregon, West Virginia, Maine and Illinois passed resolutions this year with support on both sides of the aisle. Furthermore, more than 100 Republican state and federal elected officials have gone on record as supporting a constitutional amendment.

Time is running out for this congressional push, so every email sent to a member of Congress is a huge help. By demanding that Congress support an amendment to overturn Citizens United, you are taking back the power of your vote and your right to be represented. By helping remove corporate influence from our elections, you are returning voters’ interests to their rightful place as top priority.

As the late Republican U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman said, “Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”

It is high time for the members of Congress to do their job and represent the will of the more than 2 million Americans who have signed petitions calling for an amendment, and the close to 500 municipalities and 16 states that have called for a constitutional amendment.

Let’s return America to its people. Send an email to your senators and representative today, and make this July a summer for democracy.