Los Angeles Rebukes Citizen United Decision
May 22, 2013
Anjuli Kronheim, Common Cause, (213) 623-1216
Austin Price, CALPIRG, (740) 525-2740
Los Angeles Rebukes Citizens United Decision –
Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Get Big Money out of Politics
Los Angeles, CA – Voters in Los Angeles approved Proposition C on Tuesday by a margin of nearly 77%, instructing Congress to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the ruling by five Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC that allowed for unlimited corporate spending in elections. “The voters have spoken loud and clear that they want big money out of our elections,” said Derek Cressman, an accountable elections advocate for the non-partisan group Common Cause. “Now it’s up to the Los Angeles congressional delegation to heed the call from their constituents,” he added.
Proposition C was placed on the ballot by at 10-to-1 vote the Los Angeles City Council. It read:
“Shall the voters adopt a resolution that there should be limits on political campaign spending and that corporations should not have the constitutional rights of human being and instruct Los Angeles elected officials and area legislative representatives to promote that policy through amendments to the United States Constitution?”
“Today, we sent a clear message to congress that this is our democracy and it is not for sale. There is rising call from cities and states across the country calling for getting big money out of politics and it won’t stop until they hear us,” said Austin Price, Field Director of CALPIRG.
Congressional action consistent with Proposition C would not only overrule the Citizens United decision, but other court decisions that equated unlimited campaign spending by individuals with free speech. Further, Proposition C seeks to establish that the constitution is intended to protect the rights of real people, not artificial entities such as corporations. Several amendments have already been introduced in Congress to accomplish these objectives.Proposition C was endorsed by every candidate for mayor, city council, city attorney, and city controller; as well as Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Tony Cardenas, Rep. Janice Hahn, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Henry Waxman.
Council member Richard Alarcon said, “Yesterday the voters of Los Angeles made a strong statement in support of getting big money out of politics by opposing the notion that corporations are equal to individual people. I know that this vote will help continue the national momentum to overturn Citizens United and I encourage our LA congressional delegation to bring this message back to Washington, DC.”
Dozens of political and community groups campaigned for Proposition C including the Money Out/Voters In Coalition, Los Angeles Labor Federation, and CREDO Action and many more endorsed.
“Passage of Proposition C has put the wind at the backs of those seeking to make politicians and corporations accountable to the people,” said Michele Sutter, cofound of the Money Out/Voters In Coalition. San Francisco voters approved a similar measure last November by a vote of 81%. Common Cause is hoping to place a question on the California statewide ballot as a next step. Colorado and Montana became the first two states to pass such measures in 2012, both by three-to-one margins, although Los Angeles represents the largest single jurisdiction to do so. A total of 14 states are now on record calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
The practice of using voter instruction ballot measures has a long tradition in the United States and was used by California as part of the successful effort to enact the 17th Amendment to provide for direct election of U.S. Senators.