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 Clements is co-founder and chair of the board of Free Speech for People, a national non-partisan campaign to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, challenge excessive corporate power, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He co-founded Free Speech For People in 2010, after representing several public interest organizations with a Supreme Court amicus brief in the Citizens United case. Jeff has served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 staff in the enforcement of environmental, healthcare, financial services, civil rights, antitrust and consumer protection laws. In private practice, Jeff has been a partner at Mintz Levin in Boston, and in his own firm. Jeff also has served in leadership capacities on numerous boards, including that of the Portland Water District, a public agency responsible for protecting and delivering safe drinking water and ensuring proper treatment of wastewater for 160,000 people; Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental organization he co-founded with others to protect and enhance stewardship of Maine’s Casco Bay; and The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 2012, Jeff co-founded Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides cost-effective capital to farmers and businesses engaged in local, sustainable agriculture. Jeff graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude from the Cornell Law School in 1988. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts with his wife and three children. Jeff Clements Twitter: @ClementsJeff Email: jclements@freespeechforpeople.org
This entry was posted in 28th Amendment Action. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments Closed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s