Our republican democracy is supposed to mean government of, by, and for the people. That means all of us, not just the wealthy few, and not the corporations.
Yet today, a radical Supreme Court majority is threatening this fundamental principle that defines who we are as a nation.
Citizens United v. FEC
In its Citizens United v. FEC decision in 2010, the Supreme Court swept away a century of precedent that barred corporate money in our elections. And, it endorsed the dangerous fiction that corporations have the same constitutional rights as living, breathing people. In effect, this gives corporations a veto over our democratically enacted laws, because a constitutional right trumps a regular law when the two conflict. This threatens our laws protecting the safety of our food, the air we breathe, our health care, our civil rights, and the fundamental underpinnings of our democracy—essentially, any law that could get in the way of corporate profits.
The most direct result of Citizens United is that we can now no longer bar corporations from spending limitless sums of money to take over our elections. Citizens United, in practice, also opened the door to unlimited giving by individuals to “independent” campaign groups such as Super PACs.
And, Citizens United isn’t the only problem we have to solve. In an earlier case (in 1976), Buckley v. Valeo, the Court said, wrongly, that campaign spending is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Ever since Buckley, Americans have been barred from limiting overall spending by big money interests in our political process. In effect, this has turned our elections into auctions for the highest bidders.
In April 2014, the Court ruled in another case, McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down aggregate limits on all gifts given directly to candidates’ campaigns in federal elections. The ruling has further fueled the explosion of big money dominance over our elections.
For all these reasons, we’re standing up together to overrule the Supreme Court.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives us the power to do exactly that, and we the people have used this power 27 times before. Many of our past amendments have overturned egregious Supreme Court rulings to enable people to participate in our society on equal terms, including the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, the 24th Amendment banning poll taxes, and the 26th Amendment, which established voting rights for all citizens beginning at age 18.
Now the time has come for us to do it again.
It will take a lot of work—we need to get 2/3 of Congress (that’s 67 Senators and 290 U.S. Representatives) on board, plus 3/4 of the states (that’s 38 states). But we’re already well on our way.
For more on why we need an amendment and how to achieve one, see Fixing the Supreme Court’s Mistake: The Case for the Twenty-Eighth Amendment.