Nov 18, 2011
Today, Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-19), a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) Constitutional Amendment. The OCCUPIED Amendment both overturns the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that wrongly awarded the Constitutionally-protected free speech rights of people to corporations and totally bans corporate money from America’s electoral process.
“No matter how long protesters camp out across America, big banks will continue to pour money into shadow groups promoting candidates more likely to slash Medicaid for poor children than help families facing foreclosure,” said Rep. Deutch. “No matter how strongly Ohio families fight for basic fairness for workers, the Koch Brothers will continue to pour millions into campaigns aimed at protecting the wealthiest 1%. No matter how fed up seniors in South Florida are with an agenda that puts oil subsidies ahead of Social Security and Medicare, corporations will continue to fund massive publicity campaigns and malicious attack ads against the public interest. Americans of all stripes agree that for far too long, corporations have occupied Washington and drowned out the voices of the people. I introduced the OCCUPIED Amendment because the days of corporate control of our democracy must end. It is time to return the nation’s capital and our democracy to the people.”
Though several amendments aimed at overturning Citizens United have been introduced in recent weeks, Rep. Deutch’s OCCUPIED Amendment is the only proposal that:
- Makes clear that free speech and other constitutionally protected rights are those of natural persons and not corporations or entities formed to promote their business interests.
- Reaffirms that corporations are formed under the laws of Congress and the States and are thus subject to laws enacted to protect the environment, ensure public health, and other safeguards for the people.
- Overturns Citizens United by ending corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of their general treasury funds in elections.
- Sets the stage for real campaign finance reform by reasserting the authority of Congress to regulate all election contributions and expenditures, including those of individuals and groups funneling money anonymously to influence elections.
The introduction of Congressman Deutch’s amendment was applauded by several public interest leaders dedicated to stopping corporations from buying elections to pad their profits:
“Public Citizen enthusiastically applauds and endorses Representative Ted Deutch’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would comprehensively repair the damage done to our democracy by Citizens United,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “It would clarify that constitutional rights are intended for real, live, breathing human beings. It would end corporate spending on elections. And it would give Congress authority to adopt a sensible campaign finance system. It would make American stronger, more democratic and more just.”
“We join Americans across the nation in applauding Congressman Ted Deutch for affirming fundamental truths self-evident to almost everyone except five guys on the Supreme Court: For-profit corporations are not people and thus are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media Democracy, publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECexposed.org, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. “No other congressional effort has so directly confronted the twin problems created by judges who have arrogantly granted rights to corporations, without democratic consent, and overturned bipartisan laws that limited the corrupting influence of money in our elections.”
“The problems caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United must be addressed – and we’re delighted to see Representative Deutch offer a comprehensive solution to stop the flood of corporate money in our electoral system,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of Policy and Programs for People for the American Way. “Our democracy belongs to all of the people, not just the wealthy, and not to large and powerful corporate interests. Amending the constitution is the best tool we have to protect that democracy for the American people. Rep. Deutch’s amendment is a positive step toward ensuring that our elected officials remain accountable to the people they are in office to serve.”
Click here to read the OCCUPIED amendment.
Click here for a backgrounder on the amendment.