Monday, June 18, 2012
Resolution to Amend the U.S. Constitution and Reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision debated at the Albuquerque City Council
Tonight the Albuquerque City Council will debate City Councilor Rey Garduno’s resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission.
A sharply divided Supreme Court decided that the American people are powerless to stop corporations from using corporate funds to influence state and federal elections. The 5-4 decision ruled that the restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections contained in the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (known as “McCain-Feingold”) violated the First Amendment protections of free speech.
The ruling dramatically expands the new “corporate rights” doctrine that has transformed the First Amendment in recent years, reduces transparency and exposes our elections to a new flow of billions of dollars of corporate money. The Citizens United ruling has already resulted in an explosion of unlimited, and often undisclosed, Super PAC spending, as we have seen in the current New Mexico state legislative races, as well as in the Republican presidential nominating process.
The Court’s action seriously threatens to overwhelm the voice and vote of individual American citizens. The decision unleashes a torrent of corporate money in our elections and reduces transparency in political advertising. It has invalidated state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections; And, along with the Supreme Court’s ruling that money equals speech, it grants excessive power to corporate interests.
Advocate Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico praised the resolution as “a definitive statement of the City of Albuquerque’s intent to correct the egregiously wrong Citizens United decision that allowed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend millions on electing politicians in hopes they will do their bidding.” And LeMoyne Castle of Albuquerque Move to Amend says the “City Council resolution makes it clear that money is just an amplifier of speech and that granting human rights to corporations inevitably violates the principle of equal protection.”
79% of Americans support passage of an amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling, showing that this issue truly transcends political ideology. According to the 2010 Hart Research survey, 82% of Independent voters, 68% of Republican voters and 87% of Democratic voters support a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling. Additionally, John McCain has called this the “worst decision in this Supreme Court’s history.”