By Jeffrey D. Clements, Principal, Clements Law Office, LLC. Mr. Clements filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case on behalf of several democracy advocacy organizations, and serves as general counsel of Free Speech for People. He is also author of the ACS Issue Brief, “Beyond Citizens United v. FEC: Re-Examining Corporate Rights.” This post is part of an ACSblog symposium marking the one-year anniversary of the landmark decision Citizens United v. FEC.

A year ago, on the day that the Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. FEC, I wrote here at ACSblog that the Court’s failure to recognize the difference between corporations and people, the difference between a free speech case and a corporate regulations case, squarely frames the question of whether our American Republic will remain a government of the people. I said that it is “time to support and work for a 28th Amendment to correct the Court” and to “remove unwarranted judicial controls on our lawmakers’ oversight of corporate power.” From the perspective of twelve months passing, was this view of Citizens United, shared by many, unduly alarmist? Was the call for a Constitutional Amendment melodramatic and unnecessary? And, as some of my friends ask from time to time, “how’s that campaign to save the nation going anyway?”

I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that those who view the Court’s decision as a “strike at the heart of democracy,” in the words of President Obama, are correct. The pay-to-play crony capitalism vision of America that underlies Citizens United, where citizens in a republic become consumers or spectators in corporate “marketplace” elections, and the people’s representatives dance only to corporate tunes, shows every sign of coming to ultimate fruition. The alternative vision, one of a vibrant, innovative, responsible and confident republic of free people and free markets, where the people decide the appropriate place of corporations in our society, seems to fade into history.

Last November, we had the first post-Citizens United election, the most expensive federal mid-term election in history. Four billion dollars was spent, and at least hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money passed through front groups with innocuous sounding names to define who was good, who was bad, and what issues mattered. Sixty percent of eligible voters did not bother to vote. And you can be sure that the threat of the billions of dollars of corporate money that is now available for electioneering and independent expenditure campaigns in 2012 is being felt in the halls of Congress, our state houses, town halls, and, perhaps most sadly, in our halls of justice where judiciaries are subject to retention votes or other elections.

All is not lost, though. A widening consensus has emerged over the past year holding that the spending of general treasury corporate funds to influence elections is not “speech,” that corporations are not among “we the people,” and that Citizens United is wrong. And a growing consensus is emerging that Congress and the States must closely examine and seriously consider a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. Close to a million Americans have signed resolutions calling on Congress to send such an amendment to the States. A bipartisan group of more than fifty leading law professors and former prosecutors and government attorneys has called on Congress to explore the Amendment option. And a fast-increasing group of business leaders now call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision because Citizens United corrupts both democracy and a robust, competitive economy.

On this anniversary of Citizens United, Free Speech for People has released the most comprehensive poll about the decision, corporate power, and the state of our democracy. This poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates, confirmed polls conducted throughout the year that showed that most Americans – -whether Republican, Democratic, or independent – – reject the notion that the First Amendment prevents the people from regulating corporate money in our political system. And the poll shows that four out of five Americans now support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Polls, of course, do not determine the Constitution, particularly where our Bill of Rights is concerned. Yet more than polls show the emerging consensus about what our free speech rights mean, and what is necessary to ensure free and fair elections. The amendment process under Article V is the best means to continue the national conversation about the role of multinational corporations under our Constitution and in our democracy, and to correct the Court’s misstep in Citizens United.

What is the state of our democracy one year after Citizens United? Corporate interests clearly dominate our government. Yet the American people appear determined to do again what we have done many times before, including in seven of the ten decades of the 20th century: Use Article V to amend the Constitution to overcome fundamental, structural obstacles to ensure the continued progress of liberty, equality and self-government.

To view this article on the ACS blog, click here.

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