2023 Wrapped: The Top Common Cause Led Victories of the Year

2023: The year of victories others thought were impossible. The court battles we thought would never end, and the millions of Americans whose voices we protected and strengthened.  

Revisit the major moments of 2023 for our pro-democracy movement and the victories Common Cause helped secure for all Americans. 

Moore v. Harper: We challenged lawless lawmakers before the Supreme Court—and won!

For more than a year, North Carolina lawmakers tried seizing complete control of our elections. In fact, they were so power hungry they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let state lawmakers in all 50 states have complete control over elections—free from the checks of the courts and the rule of law. 

Thanks to Common Cause North Carolina’s advocacy, the Supreme Court told those lawless lawmakers “no” and preserved the fundamental concept of checks and balances 

Delaware: We prevented corporations from voting in our elections 

In the spring, Delaware state lawmakers tried advancing a bill that would have given corporations a vote in local elections in the city of Seaford. Common Cause Delaware was the first in line to oppose the measure, educating the public, drumming up opposition, testifying against the legislation at hearings until all hours of the night — and causing national outrage over this outrageous bill.  

In the end, Common Cause Delaware and our members killed the bill, safeguarding our elections from wealthy special interests.  

Ethics: We filed complaints that led to Donald Trump’s indictment 

When Donald Trump paid hush money to Stormy Daniels, Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission, citing violations of federal campaign finance laws. Five years later, a Manhattan Grand Jury indicted Trump on charges based on those payments.  

Thanks to our complaint highlighting the level of secrecy that went into the payment—just weeks ahead of the 2016 presidential election—Donald Trump will have his day in court. 

Media: We killed a deal that would have allowed a major hedge-fund to take over local news 

Standard General, a major hedge fund corporation, tried forcing through a media merger that would have allowed it to take over TEGNA, a news organization with 64 networks. It would have meant fewer local reporters to provide quality journalism and fewer stories covering a diversity of communities, a major blow to our democracy.  

Common Cause followed Standard General at every turn, filing a petition to oppose the merger with the FCC, the commission in charge of approving the deal, and driving more than 6,000 comments opposing the deal to the FCC. We penned an op-ed in an outlet read by the FCC commissioners, and those who influence the commissioners. We then promoted that opinion piece with a targeted social media campaign, exerting public pressure to poison the deal.  

Just days later, the deal fell apart, and we saved diverse voices in local news stories.  

Ohio: We protected voters’ access to the ballot—and reproductive rights 

Ohioans have had the constitutional right to put initiatives on the ballot for a vote of the people since 1912. Last summer, state lawmakers tried pulling off a brazen power grab to weaken that right. We believe every voter has a right to have a direct say in the decisions affecting us and our families. So, we mobilized voters in every corner of the state — educating them about the dangers of the issue and turning them out to vote “no” in record numbers.  

Thanks to Common Cause Ohio’s relentless advocacy, we defeated lawmakers’ attempted power grab and protected our rights. Later in the year, when reproductive rights were on the ballot, we again mobilized voters to protect our right to bodily autonomy.  

Florida: We took Governor DeSantis to court for intentionally silencing Black voters 

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis pressured state lawmakers into approving gerrymandered voting maps and intentionally discriminating against Black voters. This is a violation of the U.S. Constitution — so we sued the DeSantis Administration, along with Fair Districts Now, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, and individual voters from across the Sunshine state. 

In October, our case went to trial in federal court and Common Cause Florida Executive Director Amy Keith took the witness stand to share why Common Cause will never let blatant and intentional discrimination go unchallenged. We are still waiting for a decision in this case. 

Massachusetts: We stopped corporations from charging huge fees to call loved ones 

For years, corporations in Massachusetts charged incarcerated people and their families exorbitant fees for phone calls. These high costs disproportionately affect and exacerbate racial inequalities. As part of the Keeping Families Connected Coalition, we pushed for state lawmakers to pass legislation so those in jails can stay connected to their communities and become informed voters without paying unreasonable fees. 

Thanks to our collective advocacy, Massachusetts is the fifth state in the nation to make prison and jail calls free. 

U.S. Supreme Court: We pressured the justices into adopting a code of conduct for the first time in history 

For more than a decade, Common Cause has demanded a binding code of ethics for the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s why in 2011, we asked Justice Thomas to clarify his financial disclosures, suggesting the Federalist Society, a conservative activist group, reimbursed him. We also called attention to Justice Thomas’ failure to report his wife’s income from lobbying on behalf of conservative activist groups.  

Though the court recently announced its first-ever code of conduct, without any enforcement mechanism, it doesn’t go far enough. Our work is not done until we have a binding code of ethics.  

Ethics: We protected the office responsible for holding our representatives in Congress accountable 

In January, the newly elected and Republican-led House attempted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog responsible for reviewing misconduct in Congress. Common Cause, which spearheaded the office’s creation in 2008, championed its protection — ensuring it was fully staffed and funded to do its work.  

Thanks to Common Cause’s public pressure campaign, we made sure the OCE could continue to provide nonpartisan oversight and accountability over members of Congress and their staff. 

Pennsylvania: Protected the right to vote by mail 

In Pennsylvania, vote by mail voters who forgot to date or put the wrong date on their mail –in ballots had their ballots thrown out.  We know so many hardworking people, like our nurses, teachers, and firefighters, depend on voting by mail to make their voices heard. They shouldn’t be silenced because of a minor, clerical error. That’s why we filed a lawsuit with our partners at the ACLU, Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP, the Black Political Empowerment Project, the League of Women Voters Pennsylvania, and many others.

Thanks to our legal work, a judge ruled that voters who mail their ballot on time must have their vote counted—even if they forgot or misdated their ballot.

Thank you.

We could not have done any of this work without our dedicated supporters and volunteers across the nation.

Thank you for all of your efforts.  

As we reflect on 2023 and get ready for 2024, we hope you join us at CommonCause.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, LinkedIn, and Tik Tok