UPDATE: Citizens United Constitutional Amendment Scorecard

As the second anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC approaches, momentum for the 28th Amendment continues to grow. Now a dozen Amendment resolutions now await debate in the House and Senate. These take a variety of approaches to overturn the fabrication of Constitutional rights for corporations and to enable Congress and the States to enact laws to address the gross inequality created by unlimited spending and contributions in elections.  Links to all of these can be found on the resources page here.

[Original post follows]

The Constitutional Amendment campaign to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and restore free, fair elections and republican democracy in America rapidly is gaining steam. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of resolutions introduced in Congress that would adopt (when ratified by the States) the 28th Amendment. All of these are good, important steps, and debate about the various approaches is valuable and necessary.

Here’s a scorecard of the Amendment resolutions now in Congress:

The People’s Rights Amendment, introduced by Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts (H.J. Res. 88): Overturns Citizens United v. FEC and the corporate personhood doctrine, making clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights;

Edwards Amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland (H.J. Res 78): Overturns Citizens United v. FEC and allows Congress and the States to regulate corporate political expenditures;

Udall Amendment, introduced by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico (S.J. Res 29); House companion bill is Sutton bill; Overturns the US Supreme Court’s 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo equating money with speech and allows Congress and the States to set limits on candidate campaign expenditures and on independent expenditures (including expenditures by corporations);

Schrader Amendment, introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon (H.J. Res 72); similar to the Udall and Sutton bills but with slightly different language;

Deutch Amendment, introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida; states that for-profit corporations are not people with constitutional rights and carves out an exception for non-profit corporations; overturns Buckley v. Valeo in a similar way to the Udall and Sutton bills.

Those in Congress who have sponsored or co-sponsored these bills are showing real leadership, and deserve credit, no matter if the resolutions take different approaches. Indeed, some combination of these approaches may well be best in the end.

For example, the People’s Rights Amendment would make clear that corporations are not people with constitutional rights, directly overturning the Citizens United ruling. The People’s Rights Amendment would end the increasingly common role of activist judges in invalidating environmental, public health, and economic reforms in the name of Constitutional rights for corporations. Other amendment bills would overturn the US Supreme Court’s 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo equating money with speech and striking down mandatory campaign spending limits passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Increasingly, the growing group of organizations working on this effort (see www.united4thepeople.org) and millions of Americans across the country are focused on ending the corruption and inequality of both unchecked corporate power and unregulated money in elections.  It is good to see movement in Congress on both of these pieces.

About Jeff Clements

Jeff serves as President of American Promise. He has practiced law for three decades in public service and private practice, and is the author of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money & Global Corporations. He is also the founder of Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides sustainable financing to businesses in the local agriculture economy. Previously, Jeff has been a partner in a major Boston law firm and served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the public law enforcement bureau in the Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts. Jeff has helped to start and been a board member of many non-profit organizations and businesses. Today, in addition to the board of American Promise, he serves on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, Massachusetts. Twitter: @ClementsJeff
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