Californians to vote on the Overturn Citizens United Act in November

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  • sylvia moore

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday allowed the Overturn Citizens United Act to go onto the November ballot, after thousands of activists across California inundated Brown’s office with emails, faxes and phone calls urging him to support the bill, known as SB 254. The bill is authored by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), and co-sponsored by a coalition of grassroots organizations including Los Angeles-based Money Out Voters In (MOVI) and California Common Cause.

SB 254 places a measure onto the November 2016 ballot allowing Californian to vote to instruct the Legislature and Congress to support a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which gave the wealthy, unions and corporations the right to spend unlimited funds in political campaigns.

“Citizens United has been one of the most damaging opinions to American democracy in the past 50 years,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause, “There is consensus across the political spectrum that corporations and unions should not be able to spend unlimited amounts of money from their treasuries to buy elections and drown out the voice of ordinary Americans.”  

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decades of its own precedent to hold that the First Amendment prevents the federal government and states from imposing any limits on corporate independent expenditures in political campaigns. The decision has led to an avalanche of independent spending, giving disproportionate weight to the views of wealthy special interests. According to a Sept. 28, 2015, Bloomberg poll, more than 80% of Democrats and Republicans want Citizens United overturned.

“The Overturn Citizens United Act comes at a pivotal time in America’s democracy, as the partisan battle over appointing a ninth Justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the high court continues to roil Washington,” stated Nicolas Heidorn, CA Common Cause’s Legislative and Policy Counsel. “Californians have an opportunity to send a message that the new justice should stand with the people not big money interests.”