GROUP URGES SUPPORT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILLS TO OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED AND RESTORE DEMOCRACY TO THE PEOPLE
ENDORSEMENT OF THE MCGOVERN BILL AND UDALL/SUTTON BILL
WASHINGTON, DC – Free Speech For People, a national campaign helping to lead the growing movement for a constitutional amendment to reclaim democracy, is urging the US Senate to support two amendment bills pending in Congress that would overturn the US Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and restore democracy to the people.
The US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, will hold a first-ever hearing on Tuesday on Citizens United and the constitutional amendment bills currently pending in Congress to overturn the ruling. In written testimony submitted on behalf of Free Speech For People by Jeffrey D. Clements, the group’s co-founder and president, Mr. Clements highlights Free Speech For People’s endorsement of two amendment bills which, taken together, would “restore the authority of Congress and the States to regulate campaign spending” and would abolish “the fabricated doctrine of corporate constitutional rights.”
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Representative Betty Sutton of Ohio have introduced companion bills in the Senate and House (S.J. Res. 29 and H.J. Res. 86) to address the problem of big money dominance of our elections. Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts has introduced an amendment (H.J. Res. 88), with bipartisan support, that would make clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights. In his testimony, Mr. Clements urges support for both amendment bills “to ensure the most comprehensive response to the threats posed to our democracy by Citizens United and related rulings.”
“Americans have amended the Constitution repeatedly to expand democratic participation of people in elections,” Mr. Clements continues. “Most of the seventeen amendments that followed the ten amendments of our Bill of Rights were adopted to eliminate barriers and strengthen democracy for everyone. Seven of our amendments overruled egregious rulings of the Supreme Court. We can and we must do that again to preserve our Republic and to protect that basic American promise: government of, for, and by the people.”
Free Speech For People, launched on the day of the Citizens United ruling, has been at the forefront of the national movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decision. That movement has achieved significant momentum across the country in the past two and half years since the Court issued its ruling. Six states (California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have gone on record calling for an amendment. Hundreds of resolutions have passed in cities and towns throughout the nation. Millions of Americans have signed petitions supporting an amendment. Eleven state attorneys general have joined the call. More than 2000 business leaders are now on board. And, the President of the United States has said an amendment may be necessary.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights is responsible for original oversight for the Senate on all constitutional amendment bills. Tomorrow’s hearing of the Subcommittee marks a significant development in the Senate’s consideration of the call to amend the US Constitution in response to the Citizens United ruling.
To assist the Subcommittee in its review of the constitutional amendment bills, Free Speech For People included in Mr. Clements’s testimony a comparison grid highlighting the major features of the pending 13 bills and the reasons for the group’s endorsement of the McGovern bill and Udall/Sutton bill. Mr. Clements’s testimony and that comparison grid are available here.
The Subcommittee’s hearing, entitled “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs,” will take place on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at 2:30 pm, in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.