March 27, 2012
New York Assembly Committee Approves Resolution Calling for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United
New York Should Stay at Leading Edge of Movement to Take Back Our Democracy
ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York Assembly’s Election Law Committee today approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Public Citizen and other activists approached Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) to introduce the resolution. It will now go to a full Assembly vote.
The resolution calls for an amendment clarifying that corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections or “rights” of people and restoring Congress and the states’ ability to enact democratic reforms aimed at stemming corporate influence over our elections. It mirrors one passed overwhelmingly, and in front of a packed audience, in January by the New York City Council. Some of the activists responsible for initiating that measure were the same ones who approached Brennan with their desire to see the state legislature weigh in. Similar measures have been passed throughout New York by the Albany, Danby and Ithaca city councils. Nationwide, elected officials in more than 100 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment.
“More and more Americans are becoming alarmed by the threat to our democracy as super PACs swamp our upcoming national elections,” Brennan said. “Overturning Citizens United must become a national movement.”
In the wake of Citizens United, more than $90 million in outside spending has been recorded nationally thus far in the 2012 elections. In New York, nearly $21 million in outside spending inundated New York’s congressional elections in the 2010 election cycle. And a record amount of money – some say as much as $8 billion – is likely to be spent on this year’s federal election cycle, with a large amount of that coming from corporations.
“The more beholden our elected officials are to corporations and the super-wealthy, the worse off our democracy will be,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “New York should seize the moment by calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and return fair elections and constitutional rights to the people. It is because of the work of dedicated activists throughout the nation that we have gotten this far. It will be because of their passion and drive that we will ultimately be successful in amending the constitution.”
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.