Bipartisan Vote by General Assembly Calls on Congress to Overturn Citizens United

Bipartisan Vote by General Assembly Calls on Congress to Overturn Citizens United

llinois state senators Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin) and Heather Steans (D-Chicago), chief sponsors of SJR 27[/caption]

Senate Joint Resolution 27 passes, supported by 74% of Illinois voters

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois Today, with bipartisan support, Illinois became the 14th state to call for a national constitutional amendment ending the influence of big money and SuperPACs in elections.

“Today’s bipartisan passage marks a turning point to restore government of, by, and for the people,” said Rey Lopez-Calderon, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois, which led the coalition to pass the bill. “Republicans and Democrats agree: our elected officials should be accountable to the voters, not to big money and special interests.”

The General Assembly’s overwhelming vote, led by State Senators Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin), and Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), and State Representatives Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Fox Lake), sent a strong message to Washington, and built on the national momentum to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s unpopular decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court overturned a century of campaign finance law when it ruled that corporations, unions, and extremely wealthy individuals have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat candidates. The decision unleashed record spending in the 2010 and 2012 elections by outside groups and super PACs.

Advocates say that big money in elections makes public officials accountable to donors instead of voters, leading to irresponsible laws related to tax loopholes, public pensions, and energy policy, to name a few.

In the resolution, the legislators “respectfully but emphatically disagree with the “_ decisions of the United States Supreme Court and call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo and other related cases that allow for unlimited election spending.” The measure was on ballots across Illinois in November, and was supported by 74% of voters.

The Constitutional amendment would call for a level playing field in election spending. It states that money is not the same thing as free speech, and that only natural persons are entitled to the First Amendment rights given by the nation’s founding fathers, which were not given to artificial entities, such as corporations and unions.

The Illinois Coalition to Overturn Citizens United is led by Common Cause Illinois, Illinois PIRG, Public Citizen, MoveOn, Move to Amend and a number of other Illinois groups.