A group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill to amend the Constitution in an effort to fight the influence of so-called “dark money” in politics.
The “We the People” Amendment would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which said corporations have the same constitutional rights as individuals and identified political donations as a protected form of free speech. Keyan Bliss, communications director for the group Move to Amend, said that ruling freed up corporations, some backed by foreign entities, to pour cash into American elections to influence the outcome.
“This basically has precipitated the rise of super PACS, which have now helped increase campaign spending during general elections to record highs, every election,” he said. “In short, our voices are being drowned out in favor of wealthy corporate interests.”
People who agreed with the Supreme Court decision take the view that corporations should have the First Amendment right to free speech and the right to donate as much as they want privately to any candidate or cause.
Long road ahead to become part of constitution
To pass, the amendment either would need a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and then be passed by three-quarters of state legislatures, or three-quarters of the states could approve it and force a constitutional convention.
The amendment has been introduced multiple times in the past few years, but the Republican majority in Congress has blocked a vote. However, Bliss said 18 states and hundreds of city councils and county boards have passed nonbinding resolutions supporting the idea of overturning Citizens United.
“We’re hoping that we are able to pressure Congress to take action,” he said, “with the threat that states will take action if they do not.”
Bliss said Move to Amend is working to build its grassroots operation in Nevada and other states, and is planning a public forum March 14 in Reno.
The text of the proposed amendment is online at movetoamend.org.