Milestone reached in effort to overturn Citizens United

By the end of 2013, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign generated enormous support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

  • 31 Number of senators who co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
  • 16 Number of states that endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
  • 500 Number of localities that endorsed an amendment.

In 2013, the movement to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision reached a significant milestone. Due in large part to the work of Public Citizen’s Democracy is For People campaign, its allies and activists around the country, support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision stood at one-third of what is needed for victory. By the end of 2013, nearly 500 localities, more than 125 members of Congress and one U.S. president (Barack Obama) had endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Additionally, 16 of the 38 states needed to ratify an amendment had passed official resolutions or ballot measures. The states that called for an amendment by ballot measure, legislative resolutions or letters signed by a majority of state lawmakers were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Public Citizen collaborated with activists in almost all those states to push the measures through. The work included contacting media, building coalitions, organizing house parties and lobby days, and providing materials highlighting the danger posed to democracy when corporations and wealthy individuals pour unlimited sums into elections. In addition, nearly 500 cities, towns and counties, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, called for an amendment.

Public Citizen’s 2013 report “Super Connected: Outside Groups’ Devotion to Individual Candidates and Political Parties Disproves the Supreme Court’s Key Assumption in Citizens United That Unregulated Outside Spenders Would Be ‘Independent’ ” illustrated the close ties super PACs have to single candidates or a political party.

The Supreme Court continues to deny reality when it comes to assessing the impact of independent spending on elections. The court is not going to overturn Citizens United, at least in the near term. It thus falls on the people to overturn the court, through a constitutional amendment. Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

Highlights

  • Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign and its allies across the country generated substantial support to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the door to a flood of secret political spending by corporations and the wealthy.
  • By the end of 2013, 31 senators sponsored or co-sponsored an amendment, which is 46 percent of the 67 senatorial votes needed. Additionally, 16 of the 38 states needed to ratify an amendment had passed resolutions or ballot measures by this time.