Last Tuesday, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM)??John Tester (D-MT), Chris Murphy (D-CT),? and others proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a 2010 Citizens United decision?that determined that corporations ?are people, too. Senator Udall made no secret of his contempt for the 2010 decision in a recent quote from a press conference on the same day.
Our elections no longer focus on the best ideas, but the biggest bank accounts, and Americans? right to free speech should not be determined by their net worth. I am proud to be introducing this amendment to change the way we do business in Washington and get money out of a broken system that puts special interest over people.
The landmark case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission originally became an issue when the conservative lobbying group, Citizens United, attempted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton in July of 2008.? The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that airing the film would violate section 203 of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (often referred to as the McCain-Feingold Act), which prohibited corporations and labor unions from airing a “broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” referencing candidates within 30 days of a primary or within 60 days of a general election.? Soon after Citizens United filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. It delivered the 2010 ruling that prohibited the federal government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations, non-profit groups, or labor unions.
Ever since the 2010 decision, Democrats, and even some Republicans have vilified the decision as a detriment to democracy, resulting in?unprecedented amounts of corporate money and influence into the American electoral process. Republicans charge that the proposed amendment would all but “eliminate the constitutional rights of all corporations, non-profit groups, and some churches.“? On Friday in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Senate minority leader Mitch?McConnell refuted the notion that the issue had anything to do with the integrity of the American electoral process .? In the speech McConnell expounded on his belief that the proposed amendment was merely another petty attempt by the Obama Administration to delegitimize his political opponents.? McConnell’s thoughts were?recently quoted by the Washington Free Beacon:
They weren’t interested in the integrity of the process? Make no mistake the goal was to win at any cost, and that meant shutting up their opponents anyway they could.
Democrats?have tried several times to?add a constitutional amendment?addressing the?2010 decision.? Unfortunately for them, Senator McConnell is absolutely right about at least one thing.? The amendment has little chance of going anywhere, at least for the moment.? Even if the amendment makes it through the Senate, there is virtually no chance the Republican dominated House will approve the measure.? However, with the 2014 midterms coming up next year, perhaps anything is possible.