Way to Go California! State Is Poised to Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Jan. 3, 2012 

Way to Go California! State Is Poised to Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Statement of Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Senior Organizer, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Note: Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign worked with Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski to develop a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment.

California, which so often is ahead of the country in enacting forward-looking policies, is poised to be on the leading edge again. On Wednesday, a resolution will be introduced in the California Legislature calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that corporations can spend unlimited sums to influence elections.

We strongly urge the Legislature to speedily pass this resolution. If it does, California will be the second state in the country to do so. (Hawaii passed a similar resolution in 2010.)

Already, we have seen the damaging effects of Citizens United. The 2010 midterm congressional elections were swamped with corporate cash. A record amount of money – as much as $6 billion or more – is likely to be spent on federal elections this year, with a large amount of that coming from corporations.

The more beholden our elected officials are to corporations, the worse off our democracy will be. People throughout the country understand this and are beginning to rise up and call for change. Elected officials in a number of communities – including Los Angeles and Oakland – have voted for similar resolutions calling for Citizens United to be overturned and for elections to be restored to the people. As the movement grows, Public Citizen also is working with our allies to support similar resolutions in other states in the coming year, including Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland. Further, activists in California and throughout the country are planning days of action around Jan. 21, the second anniversary of Citizens United, including a rally at State Capitol from 1-3 p.m. 

California’s lawmakers should do everything they can to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Passing this resolution quickly would be a great start.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.