Today is the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. If you think it’s going well, ask your local Presidential candidate how he likes those SuperPAC ads.
Several actions are taking place today. The “Occupy the Courts” movement will hold rallies in front of major courthouses, including the US Supreme Court (in New York City, they had their permit denied, so they’re moving back to Liberty Plaza today). That is affiliated with the “Move to Amend” movement, seeking a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood. They’ve already been successful in getting dozens of state and local resolutions passed in support of the amendment. Another intriguing group agitating for a Constitutional amendment that has sprung up in recent days is United 4 the People, a coalition of over 50 progressive organizations, including People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause and more. Here’s their statement of common purpose:
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC has focused America’s attention on the dangerous influence of corporate power in our democracy and the urgency of taking all necessary measures to undo that influence, including amending the Constitution.
Generations of Americans have amended the Constitution over the years to ensure that “We the People” means all the people, not just the privileged few. The Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending to influence elections at all levels of government, has brought home the importance of amending the Constitution to ensure that “We the People” does not mean we the corporations.
We believe that America works best when our government is of, by and for the people. Although we have differences in scope and tactics, all of us are united in the understanding that the Court’s decision in Citizens United must be remedied by amending the Constitution in order to restore the democratic promise of America.
Amending the Constitution is by definition a long-term fight. But these groups want to wage it, because they believe there is no alternative for democracy. And they already have rhetorical buy-in from one political party. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee surprisingly launched an online petition for a Constitutional amendment. Now, maybe they’ve done this because it’s something they can’t deliver, at least in the near term. But the experts also said that anti-piracy legislation would definitely pass. And there’s reason to believe that conservatives who have endured this primary season aren’t entirely thrilled about the new rules.
Until we have full public financing of elections, money, like water, will find its way into the hands of candidates. The world before Citizens United featured a good deal of influence-peddling, after all. But that’s no reason to turn on the spigot full blast. An amendment banning corporate personhood would have a number of applications to the benefit of society. And it represents a rallying point for progressives, to create a more perfect union.