Amendment To Constitution Overturning ‘Citizens United’ Introduced By Schiff

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A group of Democratic lawmakers including Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) have introduced a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that if eventually ratified would have the effect of overturning the controversial decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United.

Directly and through judicial decision-making that used its precedent, the court’s ruling in that case allowed largely unlimited spending by wealthy donors and corporate interests, particularly through political organizations called super PACs. Such groups aren’t legally permitted to directly coordinate with an individual candidate or campaign, but in practice, it’s not difficult to see how such an organization could easily accomplish aims on par with those that would be the subject of direct coordination, propping up campaigns with millions upon millions of dollars. J.D. Vance, the Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio last year who eventually won, ran partly on the support of super PAC efforts that used $15 million in donations by billionaire Peter Thiel. That’s what’s fueling some of these people: huge influxes of high-dollar support.

The text of the proposed amendment is general. Rather than itself outlining expansive restrictions on corporate spending on elections, it instead would allow Congress to later impose such restrictions, separating the eventual debate over the specifics from allowing further limits at all. “Congress and the States may regulate and impose reasonable viewpoint-neutral limitations on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections,” Section 1 of the proposal says.

“The flow of unrestricted corporate and dark money into our elections has dangerously eroded the American people’s faith in our democracy, and in our government’s ability to deliver for them and their families,” Schiff said this week. “Citizens United was one of the most egregious enablers of special interest money, but it was only the latest in a long line of Supreme Court cases that opened the floodgates. To truly rein in dark money, we must amend our Constitution. The Democracy for All Amendment will close legal loopholes that wealthy megadonors, corporations, and special interest groups have exploited for far too long, and return power to the people once and for all.” Others responsible for the proposed amendment’s latest introduction in the House include Democratic Reps. Dean Phillips (Minn.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Jim McGovern (Mass.), and the measure has a long list of Democratic co-sponsors.