Localities Speak Out Against Citizens United as Congress Holds Hearing On Constitutional Amendment to Reverse It

Localities Speak Out Against Citizens United Ruling as Congress Holds Hearing on Constitutional Amendment to Reverse It.

As a Senate panel heard testimony today on the role of Super PACs in our elections as a result of the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, local leaders in Massachusetts, San Francisco and Chicago took their own actions to demand a constitutional amendment that would overrule the 5-4 majority of the Court.

“The movement against big money and corporate influence in our elections grows larger every day,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “People are finding ways to make their voice heard on this issue. It’s no longer a question of if but when we will succeed in passing a constitutional amendment to correct the Supreme Court’s errors.”

Common Cause submitted testimony [LINK to on-line posting] to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, stating that “it is necessary . . . that the people make permanent our core political values in a Constitutional amendment to provide that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of real people, and that unlimited spending on politics is not free speech.”

Also today, reform advocates in Massachusetts announced that 36 percent of Bay State voters will have the opportunity in November to vote on local ballot measures that instructs elected officials to support a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.

“This is truly a grassroots effort by volunteers alarmed by the Citizens United decision and fed up with big money in politics and an increasingly dysfunctional democracy, said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “People from all across the Commonwealth have taken up the cause and brought it to their local officials, town meetings, and now to the 2012 ballot. The community response has been terrific.”

Citizens have already submitted petition signatures to qualify a similar measure for the statewide ballot in Montana drafted by Common Cause and Free Speech for People and reformers are circulating petitions in Colorado to qualify a statewide measure there.

In addition, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote today to place a Common Cause-backed measure on the ballot. While hundreds of city councils have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, San Francisco would become the largest city so far to place a measure on the ballot expressly instructing their elected officials to take action.

“This issue is important enough to take directly to voters because the very future of our democracy is at stake,” said Common Cause’s Derek Cressman, who worked with San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos to craft the measure.

In Chicago, the city’s board of Aldermen are expected to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.