Coalition letter on Constitutional Amendment to House of Representatives

December 2, 2014



Dear Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McCarthy:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in recent years in Citizens United v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC, and other cases have subjected our democracy to a tidal wave of corporate and special interest money in elections. This unlimited campaign spending seriously threatens our democracy and silences the voices of average Americans. As Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent to McCutcheon, “where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard.”

Because our government is becoming too dominated by big money interests to be responsive to the needs of everyday Americans, we are writing to urge you to allow a vote this year on H.J. Res. 119, the Democracy for All Amendment.

This proposed constitutional amendment, which has more than 100 cosponsors, would re-establish Congress and the states’ ability to pass common-sense guidelines for election spending. It can help to ensure that our elected officials pay more attention to the people who elect them rather than their campaign donors. The amendment would overturn Citizens United v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC, and the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling and restore First Amendment values of democratic self-government.

If the wealthiest Americans and corporations can drown out the voices of ordinary Americans, we cease to be a democracy. In fact, a 2014 Princeton study analyzing 1,800 different policy initiatives over a 20+ year period concluded that we have now become an oligarchy in which “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests” wield the most power.

We cannot fully address the many challenges our country faces—jobs and the economy, energy independence, housing security, and many others—until we solve the root issue of money dominating politics. Passing a constitutional amendment is a critical way to elevate the voices of everyday Americans so that everyone, not just the wealthy few, can be heard. To date, 16 states and 500+ localities representing more than 100 million Americans have called on Congress to pass an amendment to get big money out of politics.

Amending the Constitution should only be done in the rarest of circumstances. However, America has reached a tipping point in which big-moneyed interests exert control over all levers of government. Instead of being of, by, and for the corporations and ultra-wealthy, American democracy needs to turn to an era of, by, and for the people. A majority of senators have voted for a fair and open debate on a companion Democracy for All Amendment, and the House should have a debate as well. We strongly urge you to allow an open debate and a floor vote on H.J. Res. 119, the Democracy for All Amendment, so that ordinary Americans will again have a voice in our democracy. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Scherb at ascherb@commoncause.org or 202-736-5726.

Sincerely,

Alliance for a Just Society
American Association of University Women
American Family Voices
Center for Media and Democracy
Common Cause
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Consumers Union
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Corporate Accountability International
Daily Kos
Demos
Food & Water Watch
Franciscan Action Network
Free Speech for People
Greenpeace
Jobs with Justice
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
League of Conservation Voters
Main Street Alliance
Money Out Voters In (MOVI)
National Education Association (NEA)
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
OurTime.org
People for the American Way
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)
Progressive Democrats of America
Public Campaign
Public Citizen
Sierra Club
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
USAction
U.S. PIRG
Voices for Progress


CC: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer

READ: House Coalition Letter on HJ Res 119


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