Congress must act to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prevents corporations from drowning out the voice of ordinary Americans through unlimited donations. That’s the thrust of a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that is gaining increasing attention.
The resolution, which has 44 cosponsors in the House and the support of a growing number of groups, comes three years after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence federal elections. The court’s 2010 Citizens United decision fostered the era of Super PACs and led to last year’s presidential election being the most expensive ever.
Mary Kusler, director of Government Relations for the National Education Association, said:
Citizens United gave the green light to turn over our electoral system to the highest bidder at the expense of educators and other individual voters. Unlimited and secret contributions by corporations to unaccountable Super PACs runs counter to everything the American people expect from our political system and only serve to erode the trust that is essential to our democracy.
The resolution states, “Nothing in this Constitution shall prohibit Congress and the States from imposing content-neutral regulations and restrictions on the expenditure of funds for political activity by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity, including but not limited to contributions in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate for public office.”
Kusler, in a letter on behalf of NEA’s more than 3 million members to every member of the House, wrote, “The power to speak freely is a hollow freedom for the millions of Americans whose voice cannot be heard over the booming echo of corporate speech. The proposed amendment would allow Congress to turn down the volume on corporate speech so that individual citizens could once again be heard as our founders intended.”
NEA is one of more than 100 organizations that is a member of United for the People, a national coalition of civic, civil rights and progressive groups working to reverse Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. Seven states and more than 300 cities have passed resolutions calling to overturn the Supreme Court decision.