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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) "We are here to fight back against a Supreme Court that says there is no difference between free speech and billions of dollars spent by the privileged few to swing elections and buy off legislators," Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said September 8, as the U.S. Senate kicked off a historic debate over a proposal to amend the constitution to limit the role of money in politics in the wake of Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United.
"There are times when action is required to defend our great democracy against those who would see it perverted into one more rigged game where the rich and the powerful always win," she said. "This is the time to amend the constitution."
Late Monday night, the Senate voted to advance the amendment 72-18, meaning it will be debated in the coming days before a vote later this week. Many Republicans voted to advance the bill, highlighting the sensitivity of an issue that has widespread support among grassroots Democrats and Republicans during an election year.
This week's vote marks a new milestone for the grassroots democracy movement that began in 2010 after a slim majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices voted to eviscerate legislatively-enacted limits on corporate political spending in the Citizens United decision -- and tied the hands of Congress to enact most new laws. The Court piled-on in the McCutcheon decision earlier this year, when it struck down limits on aggregate contribution limits.
Thanks to grassroots organizing and campaigning by Public Citizen, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and many others, elected officials in Washington, DC have responded.
Republicans are likely to vote against the amendment when it comes up for a final vote, but, by allowing it to proceed, ensured it would tie up the Senate for most of the week.
More than 20 Republicans joined Democrats in the 79-18 vote advancing the amendment, well over the 60 votes that were needed.
Republicans have offered support for the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC. They say campaign spending is a form of free speech and that the decisions removing certain limits on spending protected First Amendment rights.
The years after Citizens United have led to an astronomical increase in outside spending from just a handful of wealthy donors. More than $300 million in undisclosed "dark money" was spent in 2012, and secret electoral spending could top $1 billion by the end of 2014.
In 2012, just 32 donors gave more to Super PACs than 3.7 million Americans of average means who gave under $200 to Romney or Obama.
America is no longer a democracy — never mind the democratic republic envisioned by Founding Fathers.
Rather, it has taken a turn down elitist lane and become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy, said a n ew study jointly conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.
One finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported.
The amendment is almost certain to fail, as it would need to win two-thirds support to pass the Senate, and then would still need to move through the House and be ratified by two-thirds of the states.
Support for a democracy amendment has backing from almost half of the Senate, plus 16 states and over 500 cities that have passed resolutions calling for an amendment, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Over 3 million people have signed petitions calling for overturning Citizens United, and polls show overwhelming support for an amendment from across the political spectrum.
In Congress, support for an amendment splits along party lines, with most Democrats supporting the measure and most Republicans opposing it.
Yet the Republican base splits with leadership: when provided with a short description of the amendment, Republican voters support it by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, and widely reject arguments against the amendment, according to a recent Democracy Corps poll conducted by both Republican and Democratic polling firms.
The Democracy Corps survey found "overwhelming cross-partisan support (73 percent) for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United that can translate into added support for Democratic candidates who support the amendment and damage Republicans who oppose it.” Plus, the polling shows the issue moves voters including that critical independent vote, a fact that may now be sinking in with Republican incumbents facing challengers this fall.
originally posted by: elementalgrove
I have always found it shockingly odd the level of cognitive dissonance that exists among the average person you raise the issue of Citizen United to. Also what it says about the "Supreme Court"
It is the very definition of Fascims. To an extremem level that boggles the mind as far as how people simply change the channel and still belive America to be a democracy!
The approval rating Congress is very telling, for change to occur there has to be a massive shift to thrid parties. This would need a grassroots movement to sweep across this nation and send a clear message to that 14% lining their pockets off corrupt lobbying. That being that we are done with it and your job is quite literally on the line. Get some real representation and we might even see some justice come to those who have taken the corporate financing to oppress all of us.
originally posted by: AllSourceIntel
I do wonder who that 14% is. No doubt much of the wealthy who happen to get their say and way. How many disillusioned though is a good question, if any at all?
originally posted by: elementalgrove
I tend to be quite optimistic in the face this well coordinated system of corruption that we have permeating our society! The reason for this optimism rests with my belief structure. I think that these people who have been committing these abuses upon the many have served a very necessary part in our collective evolution. That being the need to find our power, work in cooperation, transcend the petty issues they place before us and unite in the face of overwhelming power.
I think the disillusioned are primed and ready, we will see more whistleblowing, more peaceful demonstration, and the inevitable tide will change, who knows perhaps it will happen amongst the younger politicians in the two party system.
In order for us to get back on the right track you are absolutely spot on! There is no way for us to have a voice, which is the only thing that keeps this corruption in check, when money outweighs the people. It has been a slippery slope ever since they added the definition of person to corporation in their complex legalese!
It will be huge when the day comes that this is no longer the law of the land! I also have wondered since the passing of Citizen's United how difficult it would be for foreign interests to dictate our policy. I mean have someone move to America, fund them to create a company and then use that company to fund elections, I am sure it would be a little more complicated than that, but still is that not feasible.
originally posted by: Kali74
The senate voted to push the discussion through Monday and I'm amazed how little it's been talked about in the media. I deliberately didn't make a thread about it just to see how long it took. Overturning citizens united is critical, it absolutely has to be done but the proposed amendment as it stands isn't good and could do more harm than citizens united did, its crucial that Americans start talking about this. I suggest reading the ACLU's opposition to the amendment, I'd link but I'm on my phone. Basically they're concerned that the scope is too broad and treads in freedom of the press, there's a lot more to it than that but... I can see their position. Engage your congress America. What we need is a very simple amendment that installs a limit to funding of campaigns to just public but doesn't touch speech.
Sponsor: Sen. Udall, Tom [D-NM] (Introduced 06/18/2013)
Committees: Senate - Judiciary; Rules and Administration
Committee Reports: S. Rept. 113-223
Latest Action: 09/09/2014 Motion to proceed to measure considered in Sente.
That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:
SECTION 1.To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
SECTION 2.Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
SECTION 3.Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.”.
originally posted by: ABNARTY
Unfortunately (or fortunately) the vast majority of amendment efforts fail.
I love the idea behind this one but do not hold much hope. But does it really take Constitutional tinkering to fix the issue?
Most Americans are clueless. As such, they do not care. What if it wasn't so? Would it make a difference?