Rhode Island has become the fourth State to enact a resolution calling on Congress to send a Constitutional amendment reversing Citizens United v. FEC to the states for ratification. The Rhode Island vote follows similar resolutions in New Mexico, Hawaii and Vermont. Several other states are poised to follow. The state resolutions reflect a growing consensus that the 5-4 decision in Citizens United – – which ruled that Americans are not permitted to limit election spending by corporations and unions – – is a dangerous departure from settled First Amendment law and principles of republican democracy.
Last month, State Attorneys General from Mississippi, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Montana, New Mexico, Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island and Kentucky asked the United States Senate Judiciary Committee to move the Constitutional amendment process forward. The Attorneys General call for a 28th Amendment to “put the electoral process back where it belongs: in the hands of the people, not corporations.”
More than 100 cities and towns across the country have also passed Constitutional amendment resolutions.
And in Montana, they are not waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on Montana’s challenge to Citizens United in the Western Tradition Partnership v. Bullock case. Initiative 166 will allow the citizens of Montana to vote in the Fall on a resolution condemning Citizens United and the recent fabrication of Constitutional (as opposed to legislative) rights for corporations. Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, has joined the state’s Lieutenant Governor John Bolinger, a Republican, in supporting the measure. “Both the Lt. Governor and I strongly believe Montanans, and our country, need to stand together to address the problem of corporate money in our elections,” said Governor Schweitzer. The Governor discussed the Constitutional amendment ballot initiative with Chris Matthews on Hardball recently: