California Voters vs. Citizens United

Written by Philip Ung on February 21, 2013


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This morning, California took a historic step towards putting voters first over big money special interests. California Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, introduced Assembly Bill 644, legislation that will place a question on the 2014 General Election ballot to give California voters the opportunity to directly express their opinion on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and direct the state's congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment to allow limits on political contributions and spending.

This Common Cause-sponsored legislation follows grassroots ballot victories in the states of Colorado and Montana and the California cities of San Francisco and Richmond in November 2012. The San Francisco and Richmond measures were approved with 81% and 72%, respectively. Last month the City of Los Angeles, California also approved a "voter instruction" measure that will appear on the city's election ballot in May 2013.

AB 644 will ask California voters the following question:

[quote]Shall the members of Congress of the United States representing California propose and support, and the California Legislature ratify, an amendment to the United States Constitution that reverses the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) 558 U.S. 310, and limit campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another and their government on a level playing field?[/quote]

"Last year, we were able to express the California Legislature's support for a constitutional amendment," Wieckowski said. "Now it's time to let all Californians have their voices heard. This is an issue people feel passionately about because they know the system is skewed against the interests of the middle class."

"Giving every Californian a chance to declare that money isn't free speech is exactly the sort of high-profile step that is required if we are serious about reversing the Supreme Court," said Derek Cressman, director of Common Causes campaign to reverse Citizens United. "Voter instruction measures such as this have spurred previous constitutional amendments," he added.

In addition to the voter instruction measures mentioned above, dozens of jurisdictions nationwide have approved resolutions denouncing Citizens United and in support for a constitutional a

mendment. Assembly Bill 644 was introduced days after the Supreme Court of the United Stated announced it will review the aggregate contribution limits to federal candidates. This adds urgency to reform measures in order to check the Court with a constitutional amendment.

Assembly Bill 644 must be approved by the Legislature by a simple majority vote and earn the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Sign up to be a Citizen Co-Author of this historic legislation. Grassroots activists are the only way we get this work done - that's how we got the resolution passed in the state last year, allowed voters in San Francisco, Richmond, and Los Angeles to weigh in, and now we need you to help give all California voters that chance!

Office: California Common Cause, Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics, Money In Politics

Tags: Overturn Citizens United, Citizens United

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