May 31, 2013
Momentum Grows: Illinois Becomes the 14th State to Back Constitutional Amendment to Allow Limits on Election Spending
Statement of Aquene Freechild, Senior Organizer, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign
Today, Illinois became the 14th state to call for a constitutional amendment to rid elections of corporate money and unlimited spending. This bipartisan action by the Illinois General Assembly demonstrates continuing national momentum to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
Illinois is the third state in the past month and a half to call for an amendment; West Virginia and Maine passed similar resolutions last month.
The effort in Illinois was bipartisan, underscoring what poll data have shown: People of all political stripes are deeply concerned about corporations having too much influence over our democratic process. A measure calling for a constitutional amendment was on ballots across Illinois in November and was supported by three-quarters of voters.
Illinois ranks fifth among U.S. states in population and has been called the state that most closely mirrors the demographics of the country.
Other states that have called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United are Maine, West Virginia, Colorado, Montana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont, New Mexico and Hawaii; so has Washington, D.C. Nearly 500 local municipalities have called for a constitutional amendment. (You can read more about them here.)
People nationwide have seen the effects of the Citizens United ruling during and since the 2012 election season, and they don’t like it. On issue after issue, Congress appears unable to pass legislation favored by overwhelming majorities of Americans. Elected officials are forced to spend enormous amounts of time fundraising; even if corruption was not evident, the dependence of elected officials on wealthy donors prevents officials from focusing their time and energy on constituents.
The court’s decision gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums on elections. Subsequently, a record amount of money was spent, much of it by the superrich or by “dark money” groups whose funders are hidden. Voters are disgusted by the hijacking of elections by elites and corporate interests.
With some state legislatures still in session, expect to see more states backing an amendment in the coming weeks. Oregon, Delaware and New Hampshire are considering actions calling for an amendment.
This is what a movement looks like.