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Excerpt: "Warning that 'American democracy in endangered,' Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections."

Bernie Sanders, 08/20/11. (photo: DownWithTyranny)
Bernie Sanders, 08/20/11. (photo: DownWithTyranny)

Bernie Sanders Proposes 'Saving American Democracy Amendment'

By Office of Sen. Bernie Sanders

08 December 11


arning that "American democracy in endangered," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections.

Warning that “American democracy in endangered,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections. The first constitutional amendment ever proposed by Sanders during his two decades in Congress would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission. In that controversial decision almost two years ago, justices gave corporations the same First Amendment free-speech rights as people.

"There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by a constitutional amendment," Sanders said of the effort to override the court decision that he labeled "a complete undermining of democracy."

Sanders' Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.

Sanders proposal in the Senate is a companion measure to a constitutional amendment introduced in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). "The dominance of corporations in Washington has imperiled the economic security of the American people and left our citizens profoundly disenchanted with our democracy," the congressman said. "I look forward to working with Sen. Sanders to save American democracy by banning all corporate spending in our elections and cracking down on secret front groups using anonymous corporate cash to undermine the public interest."

Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, praised the proposal. "Sen. Sanders' amendment returns us to shared understandings that democracy is for people. Public Citizen applauds and endorses the amendment, and thanks Sen. Sanders for his long-time campaign to reduce excessive corporate power."

Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, also applauded the amendment. She said it would "root out the rank corruption of our elections by for-profit corporations." No other amendment proposed in the Senate, she added, "has so definitively confronted the twin problems created by judges who have improperly granted rights to corporations, without democratic consent, and who have used their seats on the bench to favor the wishes of corporate CEOs."

A proposed 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. your social media marketing partner


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+93 # Tippitc 2011-12-08 19:27
Thank You Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ted Deutch for standing up for the 99%. The day I heard what 'the supremes' had done I almost sat down and cried! I felt totally betrayed and that the key to the store had just been handed to the 1% on a silver platter.

Unfortunately, this amendment will go to some committee and stop right there. When the repugs get their grubby hands on it, it will never see the light of day again!

+35 # Ken Hall 2011-12-09 00:02
Tip: While I share your dismay at the ability of corporations to pour unlimited funds into campaigns, doesn't some responsibility reside with voters? If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig. No matter how much money Repubs and corporations spend on campaigns, the message is still the same, which, simply put, is Effu the 99%! It is a sorry commentary on the current state of US politics that, statistically speaking, whoever spends the most on a campaign wins the election. Is there intelligent life down here?
+12 # John Locke 2011-12-09 09:34
Ken, that is the real peoblem, there is very little!
+11 # jwb110 2011-12-09 09:50
Quoting Ken Hall:
Tip: While I share your dismay at the ability of corporations to pour unlimited funds into campaigns, doesn't some responsibility reside with voters? If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig. No matter how much money Repubs and corporations spend on campaigns, the message is still the same, which, simply put, is Effu the 99%! It is a sorry commentary on the current state of US politics that, statistically speaking, whoever spends the most on a campaign wins the election. Is there intelligent life down here?

Now here is an Amendment that would get everyones attention. If the corporations want to be seen as individuals, let them pay the same taxes as individuals. Start subsidizing every American as an individual or no Americans as individuals. Put it to the a test so that the Corporations and the Supreme Court can't have it both ways! I have found that if you can get the 1% by the pocket book their hearts and minds follow soon after.
+17 # noitall 2011-12-09 12:40
Who was it that said "If the American voter was as knowledgable about politics and politicians as they are about sports and athletes, our democracy would not be in peril." Was that Zinn? Chompsky? Nader? Sports is our soma. 1984 hit it right. Everything we lose is due to our laziness and ignorance to our democracy. Like a neglected spouse, we won't appreciate it or miss it until it walks out the door. The door is now open.
+3 # CL38 2011-12-10 17:37
You are so right. I'm amazed at how few people spend learn from credible sources about the issues and who politicians really are. If we want a government that works for US, we have to get involved and make sure that it does.
+5 # X Dane 2011-12-09 21:22
Ken the problem is that when voters hear a LOAD of dirt poured over a rep. or senator, unfortunately they may believe it, for the majority of voters get ALL their information from TV, and the hate filled mail we are inundated with.

Research shows, that negativity works, and there are many, many millions of dollars worth of negativity and dirt on the way. To "shoot down" the lies you need lots of money. Remember the "swiftboating" of John Kerry?

Sander's speech was great, and what he said, so scary. He is a national treasure. I hope Tippitc is wrong, I hope enough senators will fight for it, for, as Sanders said, it will make life much more difficult for republicans too
+4 # Ken Hall 2011-12-11 00:52
XDane: I read your posts with interest, having spent some time in the great nation of DK. Here is the problem as i see it. I received a good education from US public schools back when there was respect for education and teachers. I was taught to dissect arguments. Who said that? What motive might they have for saying it? Is it factually accurate? Does the argument follow the precepts of logic? Any thinking person can see through a load of crap if they want to, the problem is that US voters have become complacent and malleable. I certainly didn't vote for Reagan, the charming backstabber, but enough of my countrymen did to put him in the highest office. He was, in my opinion, a disaster for the US common man, as I knew he would be. The same can be said for most every Repub candidate for high office since then. Democracy requires an alert, informed populace, ever vigilant to corrupting influence. The US doesn't have that now, and will have to find it again if we are to become a functioning democracy. The quality of the US voter can be measured by the quality of the elected official. The ones who have been voted into office for the past thirty years have served us ill. I know that people on the RSN threads are aware and informed, but there is a body of voters out there who can't seem to come up with the correct sum to simple arithmetic problems. i wouldn't vote any one of these jerks to serve on my local school board, much less the highest office in the land!
+1 # Jorge 2011-12-12 02:00
And now I have to get back to watching American Idol.
+4 # CL38 2011-12-10 17:33
Those of us who can need to get out and help elect people who vote for the 99%.
-27 # RLF 2011-12-09 06:18
Didn't the Civil Liberty Union support Citizen United?
+6 # alanterentiv 2011-12-09 19:26
No. They see Citizens United for what it is- a way to bribe politicians.
+9 # Todd Williams 2011-12-09 10:40
Not so if we ALL stand up and fight for this amendment. Don't be so negative. DON'T EVER QUIT!
+6 # noitall 2011-12-09 12:35
That's the problem, we ALL stand up and "fight" for this or against that and our so-called representatives hear the one phone call from their ma$ter. Nobody is 'quiting' but neither are they. They're arming themselves with military weapons, enabling themselves to arrest and retain us without cause, coordinating fed., state, and local actions agains OWS,,,they're aggressing and we're relying on cheers from the stands. Our only weapon is to get out of the stands and into the streets.
+4 # X Dane 2011-12-09 21:44
noitall, I love all the courageous people of the OWS, for I think they are WAKING UP THE YOUNG, just in time. I believe they understand what is going on.

We need the enthusiasm of the young, so please be activ and keep hope alive.
+3 # X Dane 2011-12-09 21:34
Tod you said the important "All stand up and fight for this ammendment".

We who pay attention MUST speak up and inform all our friends and even people who are not friends.

I try to inform as many of the young people as I can, and always push them to vote, pointing out that it is THEIR future and they need to be involved.
+57 # sol4u2 2011-12-08 22:56
BRAVO Bernie Sanders and Ted Deutch we need more like you representing us on the Hill!
+57 # Ken Hall 2011-12-08 23:53
I'm categorically opposed to term limits because there are politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, and a few others, who remain effective advocates for the 99% long after their first or second term is over. Informed voters have a choice and can oust ineffective Congress people at the end of any cycle, the good ones, such as Bernie, should be able to stay and fight for democracy.
+23 # universlman 2011-12-09 00:15
good going, and how about a rider requiring congress and the president to abide by all of the laws they pass without exception
-11 # RLF 2011-12-09 06:21
How about a law that says no law can be passed that does not affect all people and corps. alike...Oh! We already have that...Equal Protection...bu t tax breaks are commonly given to large corps. that small ones don't get. Where is the ACLU when you want them? Guess they're well paid like the pols.
+41 # futhark 2011-12-09 00:54
Members of the Supreme Court and politicians at all levels in Washington DC act as though they are totally ignorant of the philosophical underpinnings of the American Revolution, starting with the sovereignty of the people. We have to make them understand that the American Revolution is an ongoing process and is not identical with the War of Independence that ended in 1783, as us often taught in history classes. The American Revolution has extended the list of enumerated rights over the decades and has broadened the number of people to whom they are applied.

There is nothing in the Revolution's fundamental tenants that supports the notion of personhood for corporations. Indeed, the spark that ignited the War of American Independence was a massive demonstration in Boston on 1773 December 16 against the collusion between the imperialistic British government and the East India Company, at the time probably the wealthiest corporation on Earth.
+35 # motamanx 2011-12-09 01:18
Bernie totally right. SCoTUS totally wrong. How on earth did this excrescence ever pass the court?
+23 # Regina 2011-12-09 02:14
The four ultra-rightniks in the Court were bought and paid for at the nomination stage, put up by Republican presidents. They were confirmed by a strangely passive Senate that allowed each of them in turn to duck all questions, so as to camouflage how extreme they really were. They now frequently manage to pull a fifth vote from a true conservative, so that the most fundamental issues are decided 5-4. A lot of noise is made about Thomas, Alito, and Scalia, but Roberts is the real conniver and driver of the rightward lurch. This amendment will take a decade to confirm, if it passes, during which the damage will get worse. We will need to get rid of Republican state legislatures and governors, you know, the gang that's conniving to limit the people's access to voting.
+4 # X Dane 2011-12-09 21:54
Regina, Roberts did not just duck questions. He outright LIED. If he had answere truthfully, he would NOT have been confirmed. I watched the proceedings on C-SPANN. He is a damned LIER
+6 # RLF 2011-12-09 06:22
It is not about law...that's for sure!
+26 # angelfish 2011-12-09 01:35
God Bless you Bernie! I stand with you and dare ANY Congressman to vote against this proposal! The ones that do will "out" themselves as treasonous "Me Firsters" who should be impeached for their betrayal of America, her people and ALL that she stand for! Unwilling to serve the 99%, they have sold themselves to the 1%! Justice WILL be served on Election Day 2012! The People, UNITED will NEVER be defeated!
+19 # adickinson 2011-12-09 01:57
Way to go Bernie Sanders and Ted Deutch! This had to happpen. Now it is up to us to put the pressure on, put the pressure on, and put the pressure on to pass this Constitutional Amendment. You guys will all work in your own ways, through Occupy, by walking the streets, by supporting candidates, by writing letters to the editor, by sending out emails, and doing any creative thing you can think of to get the votes to support this amendment. It's the American Revolution all over again--but non-violent.
+21 # jimking 2011-12-09 02:05
Momentum is building all around the country to overturn "Citizens United". Los Angles recently became the first major city in the U.S. to get on board. Last month 75 percent of the voters in Missoula, Mt. supported a referendum declaring that "corporations are not human beings".
In early Nov. six Democratic senators — Tom Udall (NM), Michael Bennett (CO), Tom Harkin (IA), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jeff Merkeley (OR) — introduced a constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Citizens United. Now we have Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ted Deutch with companion action in the U.S. House and Senate.
We have the leadership let us all get to work and get the job done. "Move To Amend"
+17 # sharag 2011-12-09 03:11
This is something to really work for.
+16 # punditalia 2011-12-09 03:57
Bravo Senator Sanders! It's a disgrace that this amendment was needed but it is needed. Now it's up to the 99% to vociferously get behind it.
+6 # Left Coast 2011-12-09 11:28
But the only way thats going to happen, IMO, is to recruit and elect "progressive" candidates in the Senate. The Senate is more important than the House because Senate confirms judges and various other appointments. We could have had Cordry confirmed by now if there were more progressives in Senate--thus ending likelyhood of blocking nomination. I wish the 99% movement would also take some time to engage progressive minded individuals to run--even if its for House seat--to be a part of the process. We have to recruit these people ourselves if we're going to change the "Roberts Extreme Court".
+7 # abdullahiedward 2011-12-09 04:42
Will somebody please explain how five members of the Supreme Court equates with 2.3 of the Congress and 2/3 of the states?
+4 # Todd Williams 2011-12-09 10:46
Because that's the way our Constitution is written. Basic Govt. 101. Not always fair or right, but that's how the system works. The key here is that the Supreme Court decision set everything askew.
+3 # Regina 2011-12-09 13:50
And they overturned a century's worth of established decisions -- so much for their alleged commitment to "stare decisis" -- the principle of letting established decisions stand.
+1 # X Dane 2011-12-09 22:06
Yep Regina, They are what the republicans always decry: ACTIVIST JUDGES

Of course the the right wing loves it when it is REACTIONARY judges.
+20 # mwd870 2011-12-09 05:33
Bernie Sanders should be commended for proposing an ammendment to overturn Citizens United. The idea of getting money out of politics is gaining strong support, even among groups that do not usually share the same ideals.

The part of the proposal establishing broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections is not especially encouraging, given the apparent inability of Congress to effectively regulate anything.

The question of states doing the right thing also raises doubts, given recent actions to limit voting rights; and, in the case of Michigan, unilaterally taking over fiscal management of cities and towns, ignoring the officials elected by the people. Voting in ethical governors and state officials could make the difference.

In the end, there is no real democracy without an amendment limiting the influence money in government. It will get done!
+8 # NickMat 2011-12-09 07:20
needs to be revised. It should include all not-for-profits as well.
+4 # ericlipps 2011-12-09 08:44
Here's propposed text for such an amendment:

"The term 'person' for purposes of protection under the provisions of this Constitution shall be understood to refer to living biological individuals, and not to collective entities thereof, whether private corporations, political groupings or any other. All laws and court decisions pertaining to constitutional rights and obligations shall take cognizance of this definition."
+6 # wrodwell 2011-12-09 08:59
Even if the proposed new amendment passes, why would we have to wait 7 years for it to take effect? Did the country have to wait 7 years for the Prohibition Amendment to take effect? The same goes for the so-called Obama Care law that won't take effect until 2014. In an age of rapid communication and speed-of-light transactions, it seems positively Stone Age to endure such ridiculously long, inexcusable delays. It just shows how antiquated, out of touch and even irrelevant Congress is. Such a mind-set makes our lawmakers look like Neanderthalian slugs and serves to illustrate just one of the many blatant flaws in our faltering, if not failing political process.
+2 # Regina 2011-12-09 13:55
The Constitution requires passage by 2/3 of each house, plus 3/4 of the 50 state legislatures. That takes time -- once the last vote is in place, no further delay. But until that point -- you can grow old. The time for each of the amendments varies all over the calendar, no prescribed time. If in the Sanders Amendment there is a requirement for waiting 7 years (I haven't read it), that's a specific one-time case.
+3 # X Dane 2011-12-09 22:53
wrodwell. SOME of the provisions of the healtcare law are already in effect: you can NOT BE REFUSED BECAUSE OF A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION, And children can be on their parents insurance till they are 26.

Today on Tom Hartman's program I heard One of the reasons WHY all the ones running for the presidency. want to overturn the law on the FIRST day.


I bet, not many of you knew that. Tom Hartman, who is well informed, did not.

The 2% KNOWS, for their accountants informed them. And THAT is why they are DEAD SET ON OVERTURNING THE LAW.
I stress, that it is ONLY people EARNING
more than 250.000 a year, Salary or income from other means.

So Obama is already going to make the 2%
start to pay SOME to help pay for the implementation of the law.
+8 # in deo veritas 2011-12-09 09:09
Something else that needs to be considered is an amendment to require every state to have a recall provision in its state constitution. That way the public can have the power to remove despicable characters like Walker in WI bnefore they do further damage to the safety and security of the people. It would be ideal to apply this to those in Congress who have betrayed their constituents. The parliamentary principle of "responsible government" has been used in Britain for a long time to give the people more of a say in the political makeup of Parliament.
+11 # Doubter 2011-12-09 09:30
I had given up hope for a sane United States of America but OWS and now Bernie Sanders revive hope that the country has not gone completely rouge and/or down the drain.

+8 # humanmancalvin 2011-12-09 09:54
The John Roberts confirmation hearings played out like a John Grisham novel. Roberts was too suave & had a smooth, satisfying retort for every question lobbed at him. He passed with flying colors as history now knows & boy oh boy it did not take long for his true right wing stripe to show. He & Scalia & Thomas are birds of a Republican feather. Sh-tbirds.
Straight Democrat(ic) ballot is this countries only chance.
+2 # Left Coast 2011-12-09 11:19
You must be talking about "The Appeal". I read that.
+5 # Skwirl 2011-12-09 09:56
Why does the wording of this proposed amendment specify FOR PROFIT corporations instead of ALL of them? NonProfit can do just as much damage to a fair election.
+1 # bobby t. 2011-12-09 10:03
yes, the aclu was for it until it passed the court. now they are reconsidering it. a first amendment thing, like their decision to support nazis in skokie. they were caught between a rock and a hard place on this one.
+6 # noitall 2011-12-09 12:29
I'd say there isn't much chance of pulling a 2/3 majority on this one. Lisa Graves says it: ." No other amendment proposed in the Senate, she added, "has so definitively confronted the twin problems created by judges who have improperly granted rights to corporations, without democratic consent, and who have used their seats on the bench to favor the wishes of corporate CEOs." Because it is SO RIGHT and SO NECESSARY, THEY will fight it tooth and nail, starting with a solid GOP "NO" VOTE.

This is the main issue facing our Republic. A top court whose majority looks at our democracy from another world view; one that defines morality as whatever one can afford. Its their God-given right, they say. That is what we're up against. Those FOR killing our democracy actually see themselves as being right and worthy.
+2 # X Dane 2011-12-09 22:20
noitall, We have to scream from the roof tops, THAT THEY ARE DEAD WRONG.
We MUST speak up.
+9 # johnswords1 2011-12-09 12:39
Three cheers for Bernie Sanders. This needs to be passed into law. I can only hope that the GOP House and Senate members will remember that the tide has turned. Continue to vote against legislation such as this and the people will not send you back to Congress.
+2 # tinkertoodle 2011-12-09 13:25
I agree no congressman would vote against it but as afore said probably won't have to. Will probably never make it out of committee. The Republibagger bitches to the 1% will do their masters bidding and see to that.
+9 # pernsey 2011-12-09 18:54
Bernie Sanders is awesome!

I used to live in Vermont and he was right on things, even helped us out a few times when we wrote him, in those days snail mail.

I remember during election times seeing Bernie out on the street corners actually talking to people, and holding signs and waving to people and passing out fliers. Him not people working for him...Hes real, I cant say enough good stuff about B. Sanders.

+2 # Janice 2011-12-10 10:32
This is so unfair. Vote strait Democratic ticket.
+2 # rabbitty 2011-12-10 16:18
I wish Bernie was running for president. He is the most honorable person in politics. If faux news were banned from calling it "news" but "republican agenda" then maybe people would stop watching the garbage they are spewing.
Too many people don't vote for their own self interest.
Of course the rich do. We need to keep reminding people of the truth. I'm discouraged coz so many people I've talked to are not interested in what is gong on in politics.
+2 # Bob Yaffee 2011-12-11 00:43
Bernie Sanders has taken it upon himself to address a fundamental flaw in the reasoning of the the conservative majority in the Supreme Court's opinions on Citizens v. United.
The flaw lay in the failure of the Conservative majority to study history well enough to learn from it when the FBI abscam program revealed what would happen when large sums of money were dangled in front of venal Congressmen to get them to vote against the best interests of the country. A number of convictions followed that showed that the failure to regulate contributions could lead to bribery and undue influence by parties whose interests have nothing to do with the common weal. When a legal fiction invented earlier leads to undue influence and corruption it needs to be curtailed. If this takes a constitutional amendment, then the preservation of our Republic is going to require Justices to keep up with the new technology and cultural developments rather than blind adherence to previous error. This majority decision may be one of the worst since that of Dred Scott.

+2 # sociopath 2011-12-11 18:26
What can I do to help? We need an Occupy Washington movement and kick the loosers out! Can someone please tell me what ever happened to America? I am 56 years old and madder than hell!
+1 # acomfort 2011-12-12 00:39
I think there is a hole in Bernie's proposed amendment. It does nothing to say that money is not speech.

I think this will leave a dilemma or conflict between the first amendment and Bernie's proposed amendment.

Bernie's amendment would stop the political speech of corporations but SCOTUS still thinks money speech so they wouldn't want to stop corporations money from being used as speech.

If this ended up at the supreme court to iron out, I can guess which way it will go.

I'm not a lawyer, but this is how I see it.

This problem is covered in the MOVE TO AMEND amendment . . . section 2.

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