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Lawmakers Unite with Activist Groups to Press for Constitutional Amendment on Citizens United

Suzanne Merkelson
United Re:public / News Report
Published: Saturday 21 April 2012
“The speakers had nothing but vitriol for Citizens United, which Schumer derided as the “worst [Supreme Court] decision since Plessy v. Ferguson,” which was the 1896 ruling that supported “separate but equal” racial segregation.”
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On Wednesday, a group of members of Congress, local and state lawmakers, and activist groups met in a Capitol Visitor Center hearing room to do something unusual for its loftiness: they announced and signed a “declaration for democracy,” pledging their support to an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited spending by corporations and unions on elections.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), himself the author of such an amendment, was one of the first lawmakers to speak:

The U.S. Constitution has served us very well, but when the Supreme Court says, for purposes of the First Amendment, that corporations are people, that writing checks from the company’s bank account is constitutionally-protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger. There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by constitutional amendment.

Sanders was joined by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Udall (D-NM), as well as Democratic Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Rush Holt (N.J.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Peter Welch (Vt.), and David Cicilline (R.I.). Many have introduced constitutional amendments of their own; all signed on to the declaration and expressed their support for the movement.

Each member echoed Sanders, especially focusing on the momentum building across the country for such an amendment. Hawaii, New Mexico, and this week, Vermont, have all passed resolutions in their state legislatures calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United. They’re joined by over 147 cities nationwide that have passed resolutions. The summit highlighted the Resolutions initiative spearheaded by Public Citizen and other organizations, aimed at passing local resolutions the week of June 11.

“We have developing here a grassroots movement,” Udall said.

The speakers had nothing but vitriol for Citizens United, which Schumer derided as the “worst [Supreme Court] decision since Plessy v. Ferguson,” which was the 1896 ruling that supported “separate but equal” racial segregation.

The members noted that passing this 28th amendment requires commitment from citizens and activist groups:

“With this vehicle, we are going to organize America and all Americans are central to that success,” said Ellison. “We need people to take personal responsibility…this has to be a mass action.”

The members of Congress were followed by speakers representing activist groups including Public Citizen, Free Speech for People, People for the American Way, and the Center for Media and Democracy, as well as activists and local legislators from Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, and Vermont.

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ABOUT Suzanne Merkelson

Suzanne Merkelson is the Associate Web Editor for United Republic, where she curates and comments on the day’s top money-in-politics news. She previously produced web content for Foreign Policy magazine and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic, among others.

... but... but...

... but... but... corporations ARE people... aren't they..?...

Huge mistake - two wrongs

Huge mistake - two wrongs don't make a right, nor preserve any.

Just have congress over-rule all past mistakes where corporate gangsters got to pretend their gangs were real people, so that mere groups (of individuals) don't get to pretend to have "rights" any more.

The only thing the first amendment really needs, is to be appended with a definition of what constitutes a valid "religion," so that a certain ancient, ongoing CRIME-syndicate can't claim to have it's permanent written death-threats and hate-speech "protected" from all legal scrutiny.


As the public outrage at

As the public outrage at Citizens United vs FEC grows, so should the calls for impeachment of Clarence Thomas (for deliberately falsifying his financial disclosure forms for years omitting his teabagger wife's obscene Kochroach lobbying income and for perjuring himself at his confirmation hearings about his sexual predatory behavior towards Anite Hill,, the impeachment of John Roberts (for perjuring himself at his confirmation hearings about his right-wing, corporatist, activist "judicial" philosophy), Samuel Alito (for being a fascist NeoNazi authoritarian asshole unfit for any bench), Antonio Scalia (for also being a fascist NeoNazi asshole unfit for any bench), and Kennedy (for the same reasons as Alito and Scalia).
These 5 malicious corporatist morons are NOT capable of good judgment, sound legal scholarship, Solomonic wisdom, intellectual honesty, or any other quality that a US Supreme Court Justice should possess.

When the supreme court

When the supreme court decided Citizens United I thought they had lost their damned minds. As if the influence of money in elections and subsequent legislation wasn't already excessive. Such a far reaching decision should not be allowed on a 5 to 4 vote. This has completely undermined our democracy.

A government for the people,

A government for the people, by the people, of the people... ? Have you heard that before?

... but... but...

... but... but... corporations ARE people... aren't they..?...

Bernie Sanders is a great

Bernie Sanders is a great man. Now lets get congress to expand the Tax Code. We need to tax the rich like the great leaders of the past. In 1938 we had 33 tax brackets in order to reach all classes of income. These brackets ranged from 4% for everbody's income up to $64,000. all the way up to a top marginal rate of 79% for income over $79,Million. Now that is "Fair and Balanced". God Bless the 99%.

How do I get the Name and

How do I get the Name and Contact information in North Carolina for the group who is starting a Petition???

When will we Demand a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the "Rich and Powerful" from having the ability for buying elections for those they support financially? The Supreme Court of the United States of America, in a black-robed coup against our democracy, the Supremes ruled that a corporation's money is "speech" and that CEOs may dump unlimited sums of it into their own ad campaigns to elect or defeat any candidates they choose.

All the Amendment needs to do is clarify that an Individual is a Living Breathing Member of the Homo-Sapiens Species. We must also provide Congress with the ability and authority to place limits on who can make Contributions to a Political Party and to a Political Candidate. Only Congress should have the ability and authority to place limits on Who, What, Where, When and How a Contribution can be made to a Political Party or to a Political Candidate.

I recommend that all contributions should be made directly to the FEC with a stipulation as to which Political Party or to which Political Candidate it is to be given to. Then once a month the FEC should transfer the Contribution to the Political Party or the Individual Political Candidate anonymously, thereby eliminating the obligation a candidate might otherwise feel if they knew who it was that was support them Financially.

Even more important is an

Even more important is an amendment declaring corporations are not people and have to have their charter renewed on a regular basis, and if they are in violation of any significant law, there charter will not and cannot be renewed.

Norman Allen's picture

1. We need to find a way to

1. We need to find a way to divorce money from political decisions, to prevent legal bribery by the moneybags in the form of "campaign contribution", the more the contribution, the more the tilt of the Congressperson towards the people who pay.
2. Abolish the electoral college.
3. Anyone running for a political office must be required to enroll in a class to learn about the US Constitution. Also, must pass a lie detector test so to get rid of sociopaths who talk to gods to run for political office. God-whisperers should be sent to mental hospitals, not Congress or the Executive Office.
4. Anyone lying about issues or distort issues/facts should be disqualified from political office. We are tired of mud-wrestlers who play with pig manure....
5. Anyone apologizing to a corporation for destructive practices (BP comes to mind) for Congressional investigation should be investigated for ties with that industry and if found in bed with such industry, should be immediately dismissed from public life. We are tired of poor thugs colluding with rich thugs to abuse the social responsibility which goes with high offices.
6. Give them hell, Bernie. 99% is behind you.

palsimon's picture

There is also the possibility

There is also the possibility that we should, in fact, along with other changes, require special qualifications standards for voters. Democracy that includes significant political power to ignorant, easily manipulated, uncritical thinkers must necessarily lead to bad voting. I believe government should be selected and run by an intelligent, moral elite. One would never want a ship captain who has no qualifications except popularity. The ship of state requires highly, highly qualified persons to steer it in the right direction.

Why yes, of course - as John

Why yes, of course - as John Jay once said,
"Only them that owns the country, ought to run it."

I, too, hate living in a Country, when I could be living in a Company (I hate being able to vote for my boss, don't you?)! More table scraps for me! Whee! Plutocracy 4ever!

Now that you've sold me, where can I buy a boarding pass for this wonderful "ship of state" metaphor I've bought into, Palsey?

Only your betters should run your lives, peons! Defer to them (it's for your own good)!


palsimon: Do you honestly

palsimon: Do you honestly believe we need more voter disenfranchisement? A law like that is most certain to aid the wealthy and harm the poor. Every citizen in this country has the right to a vote and the right to an opinion, even the ones that disagree with you.
And you don't really appear to be all that educated either. I have the sense that you don't understand the constitution or its purpose, let alone the concept of basic civil rights.
Why do some people feel the need to block other people from voting? Because they know that their bs opinions are not going to stand, unless they can figure out ways to undermine more American voters.

palsimon's picture

One of the most important

One of the most important changes we need to make in election laws is that any candidate for any government position should have to meet very high qualifications standards before being able to run in any election. Such standards should require not only moral standards, but academic standards as well - and yes, there should be special academic training required for the particular position, as well as testing. I am tired of ignorant, greedy politicians being our only choices at the polling booth.

How much special elitist

How much special elitist training would they have to receive before they manage figure out that government is only for the defense of our collective needs, not to pander to our private wants?!

The Golden Rule which defines morality and so enables all trust, progress and civilization, is so simple even small children instinctively understand it (as the "But Mom! They Started It!" Rule): Do Not Attack First!

That's why we have "Innocent UNTIL Proven Guilty" and NOT vice-versa - because even the largest group, the state, doesn't get to attack it's individual citizen members first!

After all, when you attack the others first, then by definition, you are the predatory, criminal aggressor, and they are your innocent victims - there's no two ways about it! (Attacking second, in defense of one's self and of innocent others, is the only mandatory requirement for justice).

Why do the "More Laws = Order!" folks never see this simple truth? Is it because they truly believe that all forms of attacking others first (aka "crime;" theft - including lying, which is the most basic form of theft - the theft of the Truth) are ALLOWED, until and unless otherwise specified in writing?!


palsimon's picture

Such a change would be only

Such a change would be only the beginning of the kind of change we need in this country. If we had such an amendment, even as big a deal as it is, it would only be a crumb from the table of our government. The many issues we have to address are indicated by the many articles, essays, studies, videos from respected experts brought to attention via and other excellent alternative media.

Here's how to "Fix

Here's how to "Fix Democracy:"

The simple and easy solution? We hold two quick, back-to-back elections: the first (as usual) to hire the worker's pool of candidates, by district; the second, where everyone, regardless of geographical location/ district, assigns them directly to their cabinet portfolio poisitons - no more conflict-of-interest "parties" partying at our expense, ever! Needless to say, we can have easy internet recall elections, prompted by a certain number of disgrunted complainants!

(Ever hear of a company where the worker's pool got to promote their own to be the company president, financial comptroller, etc.,. without at least first consulting the owners?! Neither have I)!

i.e: You want to be our beloved leader? Nah - we choose the more humble, competent guy!

You want to be finance minister? You'd better at least have a math degree - and a comprehensible plan we can all understand!

Otherwise, these idle-handed salesmen are simply traders, and as such always have, still do, and always will sell out our countries for only their own gains:

The government has been long-since hijacked by self-promoting salesmen, who are of course beholden to the corporazis who fund their campaigns.

In exchange, they build up industry-friendly infrastructures at direct taxpayer expense (infrastructures said industries themselves would never fork over even a single dime to pay for) then deliberately down-size and out-source the labour required to operate same, in order to make them seem "bloated and inefficient" as a prelude to then selling them off to those same corporate sales-masters at fire-sale prices, upon the completion of which said sales-puppets ('politicians') will retire to their comfy do-nothing make-work rewards on those corporations boards of directors. Same old every time!

As someone once said, "No one would spend millions of dollars to be hired for a position which pays a salary of a few hundred thousand, unless they were planning to steal it all back and more!"

Government isn't rocket surgery (pun intended) - it's simple, custodial, janitorial work, to project and maintain the infrastructure required for us, and divide the costs by demographics, and tax accordingly.

It's like our largest, collectively-owned insurance company: designed only to defend our collective needs, not to cater to private wants.

WE are the country's OWNERS; they are only our hired, Public SERVANTS. It's time we reminded them of that fact.


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