Congressman Ted Deutch, Senator Bernie Sanders Unveil Democracy is for People Amendment
Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and other Supreme Court decisions that have undermined the right of the American people to limit the influence of big money in our elections. Unique among constitutional amendments proposed in the 113th Congress, the Democracy is for People Amendment bars all corporate entities from spending their general treasury funds in our elections by clarifying that the right to vote, and thus the ability to influence elections, belongs solely to actual people. At the same time, the Democracy is for People Amendment codifies into the Constitution the right of the American people to pass laws protecting fairness in our elections, limiting the corrupting influence of private wealth in our elections, and ensuring that elected officials are accountable to voters. A legislative summary and a legal analysis of the amendment is available online.
Said Senator 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 introduction of the Democracy is for People Amendment was hailed by several outside organizations committed to political equality and fair elections.
"This amendment establishes the common sense proposition that the American people have the power to protect the integrity of our democracy in the wake of the most expensive election in U.S. history, with more dark money raised from secret sources than ever before," said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. "The Democracy is for People Amendment represents a bold and thoughtful effort to undo the damage done by activist judges on the Supreme Court and to recognize the political equality of each American voter by limiting the undue influence of those who tried to super-size their votes in the 2012 elections by spending unprecedented sums on SuperPACs and stealthy groups that are exempt from taxes."
“The Democracy is for People Amendment introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ted Deutch to overturn Citizens United will eliminate unaccountable corporate spending in our elections and restore governmental authority over campaign spending to the people,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “Democracy is rule by the people, after all, not rule by Goldman Sachs, Walmart and the US Chamber of Commerce.”
"Our political system is broken and the Citizens United decision has only exacerbated it further. In order for all citizens to reclaim and participate fully in our democracy, we must fix the plague of money in our elections,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director at CWA. “The Communications Workers of America believes that this proposed amendment is well thought out and finely crafted to bring the change we need. We look forward to working towards its passage and adoption."