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Excerpt: "A constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted, secret campaign spending by corporations and billionaires was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders."

Senator Bernie Sanders is interviewed by a Reuters reporter, 11/28/06. (photo: Reuters)
Senator Bernie Sanders is interviewed by a Reuters reporter, 11/28/06. (photo: Reuters)


Sen. Bernie Sanders: Democracy Is for People Amendment

By Sanders.Senate.gov

15 March 13

 

constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted, secret campaign spending by corporations and billionaires was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders and in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermined democracy by opening the campaign spending floodgates. Already 11 states including Vermont and more than 300 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for the ruling to be overturned.

As a result of the controversial decision, a record $7 billion was spent in the 2012 election cycle. The secretive billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch reportedly steered at least $400 million into campaigns. Said Sanders, "What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to tell billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, 'You own and control Wall Street. You own and control coal companies. You own and control oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own and control the United States government.’ That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about. That is why this disastrous decision must be reversed."

"The Democracy is for People Amendment will stop corporations and their front groups from using their profits and dark money donations to influence our elections while reaffirming the right of the American people to elections that are fair and representatives that are accountable," Deutch said.

The amendment would make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people. The amendment would effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns. Congress and states would have specific authority to regulate campaign finances by, for example, limiting donations, requiring disclosure of donors or creating public-financing systems for campaigns.

A similar constitutional amendment introduced by Sanders and Deutch in the last session of Congress would have addressed spending by for-profit corporations in elections. Much of the "dark money" funneled through nonprofit organizations in 2012 would not have been restricted, but would be covered by the new version of the amendment.

An amendment originating in Congress must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in order to be submitted for consideration by the states. Ratification by three-fourths of the states is required to amend the Constitution.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) filed the "Democracy is for People" amendment in the House.

The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermined democracy by opening the campaign spending floodgates. Already nine states including Vermont and more than 300 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for the ruling to be overturned.

As a result of the controversial decision, a record $7 billion was spent in the 2012 election cycle. The secretive billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch reportedly steered at least $400 million into campaigns.

Said Sanders, "What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to tell billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, 'You own and control Wall Street. You own and control coal companies. You own and control oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own and control the United States government.’ That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about. That is why this disastrous decision must be reversed."

"The Democracy is for People Amendment will stop corporations and their front groups from using their profits and dark money donations to influence our elections while reaffirming the right of the American people to elections that are fair and representatives that are accountable," Deutch said.

The amendment would make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people. The amendment would effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns. Congress and states would have specific authority to regulate campaign finances by, for example, limiting donations, requiring disclosure of donors or creating public-financing systems for campaigns.

A similar constitutional amendment introduced by Sanders and Deutch in the last session of Congress would have addressed spending by for-profit corporations in elections. Much of the "dark money" funneled through nonprofit organizations in 2012 would not have been restricted, but would be covered by the new version of the amendment.

An amendment originating in Congress must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in order to be submitted for consideration by the states. Ratification by three-fourths of the states is required to amend the Constitution.

To read the amendment, click here.

For a fact sheet on the amendment, click here.

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+18 # Walter J Smith 2013-03-15 13:53
WE can probably count on Speaker Boehner to prevent that bill from coming to the floor in the House.

But, the really sad thing is that it will probably see the same fate in Harry Reid's time as Majority Leader of the Senate.
 
 
+26 # Ken Halt 2013-03-15 15:35
People will have to make their voices heard in DC if this is going to pass. There are other groups pushing for a Constitutional amendment. If we ALL work together and show the strength of our numbers, we can defeat Citizens United. Time to get off the couch and into the streets, write letters to your congress critters, etc.
 
 
+7 # Depressionborn 2013-03-15 20:44
There is another method that might work. I don't know much about it except that somewhere in the constitution it says states (2/3ds or something), can call a constitutional convention and pass amendments. Wouldn't that be fun?
 
 
+4 # brux 2013-03-15 22:16
It took many years to ratify the Constitution, when there were only a few states ... I'd give up any hopes that we are going to have a Constitutional Convention ever again - the ownership of this country is all sewn up in terms of official channels.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2013-03-16 07:38
I think a state "convention" is different. Someone here must know.
 
 
+1 # tabonsell 2013-03-16 16:06
The Constitution was written in 1787 and the new government was open for business under that Constitution in 1789. So it didn't take many years, only several months.
 
 
+4 # brux 2013-03-15 22:17
If this gets voted on, anyone who votes against it needs to have a lot of effort put out to unseat them and get them out of the government!
 
 
+1 # tabonsell 2013-03-16 16:04
Nope.

Article V says that Congress shall call for such a convention on the application of 2/3 of the states.

That means that if two-thirds of the states appeal to Congress, Congress has the authority to call for the convention. Nothing states that Congress must call for the convention, it only says that Congress has the authority to do so, if it wishes. It probably wouldn't wish to do so.
 
 
+3 # dick 2013-03-15 23:17
Global Corporations, based in the US ONLY to get support of CIA & Military, are NOT We the Peoples. This is a bizarre joke that reveals the true characters of the odd characters on the Court.
 
 
+1 # luvdoc 2013-03-15 23:20
198 Methods of Non Violent Action @ www.aeinstein.org luvdoc
 
 
+3 # geraldom 2013-03-15 23:31
Let's make this as simple and to the point as possible. The Republicans are in complete control of the House and they control the Senate via the use of the filibuster, thanks to the gutless Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid. The Republicans will never ever allow this Bill to pass either house of Congress. Senator Sanders' effort will end up being an effort in futility.
 
 
+13 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-03-16 00:08
If corporations are people, why can't we jail them?
 
 
+8 # WestWinds 2013-03-16 02:27
Yesterday I read somewhere that the Senate chamber is putting up all kinds of We the People approved bills to get all sorts of good things accomplished (Thank you Senator Sanders!)

On the other hand, the House is spending all of its time trying to gut every humane impulse using the Congress (as usual)in favor of ongoing insanity.

During this last voting cycle we swept away a lot of the terrible leaders who have been consistently and intentionally taking this country into the weeds.

However, To Wit, the Blue Dogs in the House have disintegrated into nothing (yaaaaayyy!) Now we need to remove the rest of the obstructionist baddies in 2014 and 2016.
 
 
+5 # cafetomo 2013-03-16 03:38
All parties prefer less corruption, but not nearly as much as the opportunity to participate in it.

We already know government can be bought, but now might learn whether it already has been.

Were there one underlying source to fault for the business as usual we all despise, this thumb on the scale of fairness would be it.

People like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren stand out because they their ilk are so few and far between. Going to be fewer and farther, if nobody stands with them.
 
 
+16 # mikehz 2013-03-16 05:01
This is long long overdue and I pray that Sen. Sanders and Rep. Deutch doggedly pursue the passage of their bill until Citizens United is overturned.

Citizens United is allowing corporate funding to erode freedom after freedom and in Michigan for example, it has allowed a state government structure to take over towns, fire elected officials, and sell off the town's assets to private enterprises. And there are other examples.

Our democracy is in mortal danger.
 
 
+4 # Guy 2013-03-16 07:07
The best democracy money can buy.America you have been exposed,now if you are rich,you can buy favors from politician/gove rnment/administ ration because your money put them there.
I hope the bill gets passed but I would not hold my breath,this has been a godsend to congressmen and senators alike.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2013-03-16 07:20
Bernie Sanders is a socialist and one of the great democratic reformers of our time. He actually believes that government can be reformed. This consitutiional amendment would be a good move in that direction.

I'm more pessimistic. I don't think the US regime can be reformed. I think it is the worst and most vicious regime in all human history. It is not going to change. Things will only get worse. And then the whole regime will collapse. that's what happens to empires. They don't reform; they collapse.
 
 
+2 # mdhome 2013-03-16 09:37
The idea of government of the people, by the people, for the people, should have made it possible for reform to happen with elections, but "citizens united" has taken the control of, by, for the people and given control to those (corporations) who would destroy the country for a short term gain/profit.
 
 
+7 # walt 2013-03-16 08:00
Sen. Sanders is right on again as he speaks for the people and real democracy.

We continue to get the best governments money can buy. We have become the USA,Inc.

We all need to demand action to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision that is allowing our elections to be purchased. We can do this by supporting the senator's amendment with calls and letters.

We should demand government of, by, and for the people, not corporate powers.
 
 
+3 # Inspired Citizen 2013-03-16 08:11
This does nothing to end corporate constitutional rights.

Sign the petition at Move to Amend today to help with a real amendment, HJR-29.
 
 
+2 # tswhiskers 2013-03-16 09:03
I applaud the introduction of this amendment. My only criticism would be that it should have come sooner. I suspect the states will vote along party lines for and against it; therefore it may not pass, but at least the S. Court will know what a huge mistake it made in passing Citizens United.
 
 
+3 # Regina 2013-03-16 10:43
Five-ninths of the Supreme Court is blissfully ignorant, and nastily uncaring, of the damage the CU 5-4 ruling has inflicted on the country. Some of them may even have profited, despite the fact that they do not have to run for reelection. As for the proposed amendment, it will take at least as long as the ERA. That one has turned out to be infinity.
 
 
+9 # ruttaro 2013-03-16 10:00
I would not be as pessimistic about this as some. Even Congress people would like to be out of the money raising business. What is not clear. How will politicians pay for their campaigns? There's the rub. What needs to be included in this amendment is making all public elections publicly funded. Since we, the people, own the airwaves we would have to make a set amount of time during a LIMITED campaign season available to all credible candidates; credible would have to be based on a basement percentage of votes, signatures, etc.
The curernt system where legislators spend half their time raising money for the next campaign is not something they enjoy and it costs us dearly. To do the legislating job, they have to rely on senior staffers who enter through the revolving door from corporatate and special interests charged with putting riders in bills that protect their special interests, not ours.
We have to make all contributions illegal. If we really want elections free of corrupting money, we have to pay. We already are payiing dearly for letting the oligharchs take over. This amendment, if pblic financing is fully incorporated, will go a long way of returning government of, by and especially FOR the people.
 
 
0 # amos365 2013-03-19 08:12
Add your name to our petition for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling and reclaim our democracy.

http://democracyisforpeople.org/
 

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