Target: Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Goal: Praise the committee’s support for a new constitutional amendment that would limit corporate influence in elections
Protesters across the United States have spoken out against the increased influence of money in politics following 2010’s Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Even President Obama has been critical of the decision, which he argued “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington—while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates,” as quoted by CNN. Numerous state and city governments have made strides to protect against the Citizens United ruling, and it looks as though public outcry has finally motivated a real conversation in congress.
The impact of this Supreme Court verdict has already been significant. Corporations have been given free reign to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns, both in electing officials and in passing (or rejecting) ballot initiatives. For example, state efforts to prohibit genetically modified crops or to mandate labeling of products that include them have often failed, largely because of out-of-state funding from powerful corporations like Monsanto.
Senator Patrick Leahy, and the Judiciary Committee which he chairs, recently voted to support a proposed constitutional amendment to reverse some of the damage done. Senator Leahy explained in a formal statement that such changes should never be made without careful consideration, “But when the voices of hardworking Americans continue to be drowned out by the moneyed few, and when legislative efforts to right this wrong are repeatedly filibustered by Republicans, more serious action must be taken.”
The constitutional amendment isn’t yet a reality, but Senator Leahy and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee have taken a bold first step by voting to endorse it. Applaud Senator Leahy’s leadership on this issue, and urge him to continue working to end the protection of corporate influence as free speech.
Dear Senator Leahy,
After the Supreme Court appeased lobbyists with its “Citizens United” decision, the last four years have shown what damage can come from unlimited corporate donations. Hundreds of communities across the United States have passed referendums or legislation calling for a new constitutional amendment to limit corporate influence in politics, writes the Nation. I am grateful that the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to endorse such an amendment.
Please, continue your support for changes to the Constitution that would “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections,” and “distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law,” as described in its proposed language. Work to ensure these changes do indeed move forward–and know that the majority of Americans stand beside you in declaring that the time has come to take back our democracy.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jonathan McIntosh via Wikimedia Commons