February 21, 2013
Phillip Ung (916) 520-4070
California Takes Historic Step towards Overturning Citizens United
New bill will give voters a statwide vote to call for a constitutional amendment
Sacramento, CA - 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 onCitizens 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.
"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 denouncingCitizens Unitedand in support for a constitutional amendment. 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.
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Office: California Common Cause
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.