Vermont Was Third. Will California Be Next?
By Jonah Minkoff-Zern
Vermont today became the third state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.
Which state will be next? It could very well be California.
If the state approves AJR 22, introduced in January by Assemblymembers Bob Wieckowski and Michael Allen, California would be the fourth state in the union to back an amendment (Hawaii and New Mexico are the first two). The resolution calls for an amendment that would prevent corporations from being granted the same rights as individuals. It would help create fair elections, in which Congress could regulate all forms of campaign spending.
The resolution passed the Assembly in March by a 48-22 vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing will be held on May 1.
Momentum for an amendment is growing. Thirteen California cities and towns have passed resolutions, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Fort Bragg, Richmond, Marina and Fairfax.]. Public Citizen and other organizations – including the CREDO Mobile. California League of Conservation Voters, CALPIRG, and Common Cause – have gathered signatures from tens of thousands of California voters who support an amendment. They know that corporations have an outsized influence over politics and want the balance of power restored in elections.
In addition, the California Teachers Association, California Professional Firefighters and California Faculty Association recently joined the growing chorus of California organizations supporting an amendment, which includes the California Labor Federation, the California Nurses Association and Environment California.
Citizens United, handed down in 2010, gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. Noted Wieckowski, “The Citizens United decision tilts the scales of campaign funding toward those who support wealthy special interests rather than working Americans. This resolution is designed to send a grassroots message to Washington about the urgent need to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling and restore fair elections to the people.”
California should be applauded for helping lead the charge to re-establish the principle that democracy means rule by the people, not giant corporations.
Also to be applauded are the state’s dedicated activists. It is because of them that elected officials are considering this resolution.
It’s not too late to get involved; Public Citizen is leading a coordinated effort to pass hundreds of similar resolutions at the local level the week of June 11 as part of Resolutions Week. The idea is to create a splash throughout the country and show that people are taking a stand to say that democracy is for people, not for corporations.
Note: Public Citizen, through its Democracy Is For People campaign, worked with Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski to develop a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
Jonah Minkoff-Zern is Senior Organizer of Public Citizen's Democracy Is For People Campaign that has worked with Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski to develop a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.