New York has become the 17th state to formally call for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.
Just look at all the states that support overturning Citizens United:
That’s nearly 40% of the U.S. population.
But we can’t stop now. Fully 80% of Americans believe we must overturn Citizens United.
Having a constructive debate on the most important issues of our time requires a working democracy. That idea requires a sensible campaign finance system and a government without a revolving door to and back from the lobbying industry.
Public Citizen was key to the successful campaign we waged in New Jersey in 2012 and Public Citizen was again important in New York. We applaud everyone’s efforts. Next up are Washington, Arkansas and New Hampshire, among others.
How far the movement has come!
Public Citizen is not the only group committed to a 28th Amendment. There are also these:
Money Out Voters In
Please Note, UPDATE: Soon after our victory in NY State, Rhode Island became the 5th state to call for an Amendments Convention to overturn Citizens United. So you can add a 5th “V” to the map above.
NY becomes the 17th State – More of the story:
Just a quick blog today to mention an event in Morristown, NJ on Thursday evening of this week. These speakers are excellent and will take you to the heart of the money in politics question. I strongly recommend making this event. New Jersey Get Money Out groups will have people there as well. Don’t miss it.
Details and Registration here. NJPPN Money Control Program – or check out the details below:
Thursday, April 28, 2016
7:30pm – 9:30pm
CONVENT OF SAINT ELIZABETH
2 Convent Rd *
Morristown, NJ 07960
The Citizens United decision has led to an unprecedented influx of money in our elections, causing a shift of political power away from ordinary citizens and toward the large money donors. Witnessing growing governmental dysfunction and the non-responsiveness of elected officials, too many Americans no longer trust the political process. Our democratic system includes powerful mechanisms for repair, but fixing the broken American promise will require concerted citizen action.
Timothy K. Kuhner is associate professor of law at Georgia State University and author of Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution. He will discuss how the Supreme Court went wrong in applying a market-based analysis to the political sphere of our Constitution, and how this has caused the effective transformation of our form of government from a democracy to a plutocracy.
Jeffrey D. Clements is president of American Promise, co-founder of Free Speech for People and author of Corporations are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations. He will speak to how the political transformation has resulted in major legislative changes that benefit special interests rather than the public interest, and how this can be remedied by passage of the 28th amendment and other citizen action.
SEATING IS LIMITED
* Directions from Rt. 124/Madison Ave: turn off Madison Ave onto Convent Rd, cross tracks, make first right at guard station and park in front of large building w/portico.
North Jersey Public Policy Network is a non-partisan, 501c3 organization committed to providing authoritative information on key public policy issues to its network and to the public.
By Susannah Newman (posted by administrator)
Recent SCOTUS decisions:
In 2010, Citizens United equated money with free speech under the 1st Amendment and restated in stronger terms that a corporation is the same as a natural born person with regard to campaign spending. A few months later, the Speech Now decision created the SuperPAC and this year the McCutcheon decision removed aggregate contribution limits by an individual from campaign finance laws. Finally, with the Hobby Lobby decision, SCOTUS has conferred corporate religious rights for bosses over the rights of employees.
Ten Brief arguments against these decisions to be taken together, in combination or separately:
The problem of money in politics can only be fixed by grassroots pressure on politicians to pass 1) a constitutional amendment, which will lay the path for 2) unchallengeable campaign finance reforms. 87%-90% of voters across the spectrum agree that overturning the above decisions is A MUST.
Big money has become deafening and drowns out the voices of the ordinary citizen, whose single vote cannot compete with the voting power given to the billionaire or the large corporation or unions through unlimited campaign donations.
A Constitutional Amendment giving Congress the power to limit election spending will RESTORE the 1st Amendment by amplifying the voices of ordinary citizens to a more equitable level; i.e. government by the people, not by the money. With such an amendment in place, necessary campaign finance reform laws, such as the Government by the People Act and the DISCLOSE Act) will be safe from a SCOTUS challenge.
While corporations are composed of people, they are NOT, in fact, people, but LEGAL ENTITIES created by the state. Nowhere in the Constitution is the word “corporation” even mentioned. (The founding fathers’ fear of corporate and moneyed power is well documented.) Today corporations are global and through these recent SCOTUS decisions, foreign interests can influence elections and therefore policy.
Who has more access to a congressional office: the one who gave $300,000 or the one who gave $30 to the campaign? Unfortunately, candidates must now go after the big money: one $100,000 donation is easier to get than ten thousand $10 donations. Good public servants are made complicit in this corrupting system.
For example, why is it that 90% of the American people want background checks on gun ownership, but Congress has NOT passed any common sense legislation to control gun violence? FOLLOW THE MONEY and its accompanying OVERT POLITICAL INTIMIDATION.
The greatest fear that any candidate has is that just before the election, some anonymously funded SuperPAC will drop $1 million in ads, etc… against him/her. To become insulated from this tactic, BIG MONEY donors are sought who, in turn, insist the candidate agree with the donors’ politics. This is a corrupting reality.
In 2012, 132 Americans funded 60% of SuperPAC money. By 2014, that number will represent only .01% of America, which clearly makes our governmental system no longer a representative democracy. Our current Congress is not dependent “on the People alone”, but on the Funders. This is corruption. Not bribery, but corruption. We need only look to the days of the Robber Barons to know how money in politics corrupts and, sadly, destroys lives.
While there is rarely actual, legally verifiable, quid pro quo corruption (politicians and plutocrats are too careful for that), evidence of implied corruption and policy-by-money is seen by voters all over the country. This has contributed to unparalleled cynicism and distrust of government; BIG MONEY is responsible for this.
Time is running out. We are quickly becoming a plutocracy and losing our democracy. Power now comes from money and public policy is driven by corporate interests over the long-term best interests of the People. We must AMEND the CONSTITUTION and then REFORM CAMPAIGN FINANCE.
Okay – the quick and easy version of this blog.
We’ve got info from New Jersey candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives about their views on money in politics and amending the constitution to save the Republic.
…or even quicker and easier, See the Summary
And now for the detailed version of this blog, in which we brag about how much work this was and how cool we are to have taken it all on!
NJOCU recently contacted candidates for the House of Representatives in the state of New Jersey. We asked for the candidate’s views on money in politics as well as the candidate’s strategy, if any, for fixing the problem. Formed in the wake of Citizens Untied, NJOCU has always seen a constitution amendment to overturn at least portions of that decision as necessary. For us, without an amendment, campaign finance regulation, lobbying reform, closing the revolving door, safeguards against cronyism, and a government of, by and for the people will always be under threat from politics and the courts. There’s just too much evidence that the lure or possession of power will draw out the exploiters and the misguided.
We attempted to reach all the candidates; six were un-findable. We sent them background information on the issue and an “Ask.” We pointed out that the NJOCU coalition represents 27 statewide business associations and community and political organizations, and over 17,000 New Jersey petition signers determined to get big money out of politics. NJOCU successfully spearheaded the passage of amendment resolutions in 13 NJ municipalities along with resolutions on both sides of the NJ legislature. In other words, the New Jersey Legislature has already asked Congress for an amendment.
We asked each candidate for an endorsement of a constitutional amendment (by bill number if possible) or at least some legislative alternative that the candidate preferred. If they didn’t see a solution or the need for a solution, then we respectfully asked them to explain that position.
We had to treat a non-response to our Ask as a non-endorsement of the amendment campaign and indeed of any other approach to fixing the problem of money’s corrupting influence over democracy. How much we were able to offer our own knowledge of this far reaching topic to candidates, who are undoubtedly considering many issues right now, depended mostly on the availability and responsiveness of the candidate. We are 100% volunteer-based so we could only reach out as far as the schedule and our resources allowed.
Our volunteers did attend in-person meetings with some candidates (our thanks to the candidates as well). We also offered dialog over the phone and by email. We made a real effort to show the candidates other solutions when they weren’t sure about the amendment idea. In many cases we showed them the American Anti-Corruption Act (AACA) and the Government By The People Act (GBTP). And finally we offered, upon request, the roughly 17,000 signed petitions in paper or PDF form. Or if they wished, we showed them petition signers from only their relevant district.
Every candidate was shown What’s Wrong with Money in Politics, three examples of amendment bills now in Congress, the list of states requesting an amendment proposal from Congress and the formal Ask document. Beyond that, the background information varied according to what feedback the candidate provided to us. Here’s an example of our Pitch.
What’s Wrong with Money in Politics is a list of effects that spring reliably from the moneyed approach to political campaigning and the effects of money aggregators like unions and lobbyists. Note that the effects of money are counter-productive for both sides of the political spectrum.
Outside Spending, Outsized Influence (PDF) shows a who’s who of outside interests trying to manipulate New Jersey congressional races. It’s immaterial which side they each represent, because in any election the most influential side can change, depending on which interest groups decide to meddle and for what objectives. Nor is the problem limited to national politics. Indeed, it may prove more significant at the state level, where local money is insufficient to turn back big outside moneyed interests who descend on state legislative races. First we saw an outside group sue the state for having campaign finance laws. Super PAC sues N.J. over contribution limits. Then we all watched the money flow in from outside. As the legal suit demonstrated, New Jersey as a state is forbidden by federal courts from truly regulating its own elections.
The Supreme Court has codified much of the problem by declaring that the expenditure of money is a form of free speech. We believe that the right to speak one’s true convictions and the privilege of amplifying one’s own views to a level that drowns out all others are two very different things. The court has also codified the idea that legal fictions, organizations and money aggregators can uniformly claim the same rights as that of a natural person and citizen. There is already evidence of foreign nationals using their affiliations to inject money into election campaigns in the USA. There are numerous other pitfalls to the concept. In the Citizens United case, the court also settled into the view that election and lobbying laws can only address explicit quid pro corruption. This is not merely wrong, but absurdly unrealistic. If white collar crime were held to this standard, using a method that didn’t succeed 100% of the time would form a valid defense.
But it gets worse. Recently the court declared it legal for one donor to give millions of dollars spread over the entire Congress or perhaps more likely over one party. The court rejected precedent which held that the appearance of corruption IS corruption. Handing over money to every congress person on a collection of key committees definitely looks like the purchase of influence. Many voters in our democracy, upon seeing this, deeply question the system’s integrity. But the court says it’s legal. Thus the problem worsens even as many are trying to fix it. For all of these reasons and several lesser concerns, NJOCU and many groups support at least one constitutional amendment to deal with the corrupting influence of money in politics.
In the 113th session of Congress there are two legislative strategies for amending the constitution. Under the first of these strategies, two bills each propose one of two needed amendments. One of the two amendments clarifies that persons and people in the constitution refer to actual persons and people, not artificial legal constructs. The other amendment asserts the responsibility and authority of the people’s government to regulate campaign finance. The second strategy combines both of these provisions into one bill that proposes one amendment. As such, these two strategies represent three bills on each side of the congress, i.e. in the House and the Senate, or six bills total. These two strategies have the greatest support in Congress (the most sponsors and co-sponsors). For this reason these bills are explicitly mentioned in the NJOCU “Ask.” We believe in a vigorous debate on how to best amend the constitution, but these bills form a good starting point. There are other amendment proposals. United 4 the People provides a complete list.
The New Jersey State legislature in 2012 passed AR86 and SR47 asking Congress for a constitutional amendment to deal with this problem. 15 other states have done similarly and within New Jersey 13 municipalities have joined the chorus. The current list of local and state entities that have passed such resolutions.
There are also legislative steps that might be taken without a constitutional amendment. The two most notable are the American Anti-Corruption Act (PDF) and the Government By the People Act (PDF). The AACA directly regulates lobbying and revolving door practices and funds elections with vouchers. The GBTP Act allocates public campaign funds that are so substantial that outside moneyed interests are disincentivized from competing. The formula is still based on citizen support and does not level the playing field artificially. Both bills have been vetted as constitutional even by current standards.
87% of ordinary people are angry at all the big money coming into our elections. NJOCU, like so many Americans, wants the SCOTUS decisions that are responsible for this deluge of money overturned. But even after amending the constitution, the working solution will be implemented as a law. With an amendment, the law will be simpler and more effective, but it will still be a law. NJOCU therefore supports the best laws we can possibly implement as soon as is possible, both before and after an amendment is passed.
At least 2/3 of nearly every identifiable political group in America is opposed to the corrupting influence of money in politics including such diverse groups as the Tea Party and MoveOn.org. Republicans and Democrats both poll in opposition to the increasingly influence of money over policy. Small business owners are one of the most concerned at 90%. A recent Gallop poll showed that when money in politics was included among options it polled as the country’s second most important issue behind jobs. It’s time to start talking, thinking and acting on this long endured distorting influence over our democracy.
Yesterday, April 2nd, 2014 – the Supreme Court delivered its ruling in McCutcheon v FEC striking down aggregate limits on campaign donations. Without aggregate limits, any person with enough money may give the maximum allowable donation to every single candidate for office in Congress. Or to every single member in a particular party. Or to every single member of a specific committee or combination of committees. By one account a person could invest $3.5 million into Congress every election cycle. A married couple, double that. The majority’s contention is that none of this could possible make Congress consider the donor’s interests before and above that of other citizens.
Susannah Newman, Coordinator for the NJOCU Coalition had this to say:
“The McCutcheon ruling, on top of the Citizens United ruling, clearly shows that the Court’s majority believes in the rights of the wealthy minority (which includes each of them) over the rest of us. Fair elections are now history. It is obvious, now more than ever, that a Constitutional Amendment is necessary; that people MUST rise up and reclaim their democracy. No congressional candidate should be voted into office this November without going on the record vociferously in support of a Constitutional Amendment to overturn both the Citizens United and the McCutcheon rulings.”
Lawrence Lessig on McCutcheon
Why McCutcheon decision is scarier than Citizens United (Salon)
Sen. John McCain blasts the Supreme Court’s decision (Business Insider)
Chief Justice Roberts says corruption is no worse than flag burning (Fox News)
“Probably eventually anonymously” (VIDEO – HuffPost)
Blistering Dissent (TPM)
What you need to know (TYT)
The Decision (written opinions of Justices)
The Takeway: Built into this decision is the notion that money is speech and that more money is more speech. Buckley v Valeo, which established the money/speech connection in 1976, did not hold that donations were speech, so this is a significant rejection of precedence. Meanwhile, it’s very hard to understand how amplifying the speech of a small group of people creates more speech in any case. What the ruling instead proves is that somehow, some way, the American citizenry must demand a constitutional amendment that gracefully allows for campaign finance law. At NJOCU, while we remain convinced that a purely legislative approach (such as the AACA or Government By the People Act) could significantly improve our democracy, the McCutcheon decision reminds us that the amendment solution must be pressed forward with vigor. Reclaim the People’s Constitution.
A bit of History. 2012 – New Jersey becomes the 9th State.
In the fall of 2011 The American Dream Movement of Cape May (led by Susannah Newman) discovered that Assemblyman Herb Conaway from Delran had proposed a bill to call on Congress to amend the constitutional to overturn Citizens United. Over the ensuing months these dedicated activists from Cape May showed the bill to their state senator (Senator Jeff Van Drew) and he authored an identical bill for the Senate side of the legislature. They also began the process of resurrecting the bill on the Assembly side of the legislature, where the original bill had actually died in committee. Assemblyman Herb Conaway stepped forward again. The language and intent of the original bill was completely retained in the two new bills ~ AR86 and SR47.
Using SignOn, New Jerseyans were encouraged to join in sending a message to state legislators and to the US Congress calling for a constitutional amendment. The petition caught fire. At last count this petition had the support of just under seven thousand New Jeseryans. By the time that both bills had re-emerged, the NJOCU movement was beginning to form. Several groups were now represented in the coalition. People from the SignOn petition a stayed active. NJOCU walked each bill through each step of the process – first through committees and then through passage in the general session.
On October 4th, 2012, New Jersey’s State Senate passed SR47.
On October 18th, 2012, when the New Jersey Assembly passed AR86, New Jersey became the 9th State in the nation to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen United.
You can still sign the petition here to show YOUR support: NJ FOR THE OVERTURN OF CITIZENS UNITED
New Jersey for the Overturn of Citizens United is joining other groups around the country in marking the third anniversary of the misguided and unfortunate Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United v F.E.C..
When: Thursday, 1/17/2013, 10 a.m. (! LAUNCH EVENT !)
Where: NJ State House, 125 W State St, Trenton, NJ, Room 109
What: A press conference at the State House in Trenton detailing the national, state and local fight to overturn Citizens United and get money out of politics.
When: Thursday, 1/17/2013, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bergen Community College, Pitkin Building, Room A-113, Paramus, NJ
What: A talk on Campaign Finance and Freedom of Speech (followed by Q&A)
When: Saturday, 1/19/2013, 12:00 noon
Where: Essex County Court House in Newark, NJ
What: a rally-and-march in downtown Newark with the People’s Organization for Progress
See below for details on each event.
This anniversary is a chance for our coalition to show its strength and to highlight the great success we’ve had in the past half-year, for the whole state to see. It’s very important for as many of us to come to these events as possible, and to bring as much energy and excitement as we can.
Thursday, 1/17, at 10 a.m. – Our Launch Event. Don’t miss this.
NJOCU Press Conference in Room 109, New Jersey Statehouse, Trenton, NJ
NJOCU is hosting this conference to remind people of the Citizens United decision from three years ago (as well as subsequent decisions and developments) and to talk about our work and our success in New Jersey in both raising public awareness and passing resolutions at the state AND local levels to counter the CU decision. .
At time of this writing Assemblywoman Linda Stender (one of the primary sponsors of AR86) and Liz Lempert, the mayor of Princeton, have confirmed their attendance, as well as leaders and members of various NJOCU alliance groups.
State House: http://goo.gl/maps/bs33I
We strongly encourage you to attend this event!
Come show your support for change in campaign finance. Show your disapproval of the Citizens United decision. Come help us GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS!
Thursday, 1/17/2013, 7:30 p.m.:
A talk by Professor Roger Berkowitz of Bard College, “Why Free Speech is Corrupting Politics: Paradoxes & Problems in Campaign Finance Reform” presented by the New Jersey Public Policy Network (NJPPN) at Bergen Community College in Paramus (Pitkin Building, Room A-113). NJOCU will make a statement about our coalition’s work during the Q&A session that will follow the presentation.
More Information: NJPPN Events
Bergen County College: http://goo.gl/maps/4vh1y
Saturday, 1/19/2013, 12-noon: (PLEASE NOTE – ADDRESS CORRECTION)
People’s Organization for Progress (POP) in honor of Martin Luther King will be rallying and then marching on the issues of peace, jobs, economic justice, and the very important bipartisan issue of getting money out of politics. The rally meets at 12:00 noon in front of the Essex County Courthouse in Newark, at the Lincoln Monument (West Market Street & Springfield Avenue, Newark, New Jersey 07102). Then at 1:00 p.m. participants will march to City Hall and back.
Lincoln Park: http://goo.gl/maps/0Dw7e
City Hall: http://goo.gl/maps/XRxEp
There are at least three planned Money Out /Voters In events in north Jersey on Saturday the 19th, each marking the anniversary of Citizens United. Just click on the name of the city to see details and sign up. Be a part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to this root problem.
Or go to a flagship event in Manhattan.
Additionally, on Friday the 18th, (for our friends in Pennsylvania) there will be a Citizens United anniversary rally in Philadelphia. Please follow the link for details:
To get involved in any of the above events:
Media please contact:
In an effort to provide the public with useful information on Money in Politics, we like to point our readers to this video from the Senate records. On July 12, 2012, The Senate Judiciary Committee held subcommittee hearings on Citizens United and Money in Politics. These hearings include comments from numerous politicians and pundits, including opposing points of view.
…and here’s the summary page discussing these hearings:
New Jersey is now officially the 9th state to tell Congress it must vote to overturn Citizens United through a Constitutional Amendment! Both NJ state resolutions (AR86 and SR47) will go directly to Washington – congratulations and thank you.
SR47 passed on October 4th by a voice vote with no nay votes recorded. AR86 passed October 18th by a roll call vote: 49 Yeas – 23 Nays – 6 Abstentions – 2 Not voting.
NJOCU remains committed to the goal of getting money out of politics and to the eventual ratification of a specific amendment proposal from Congress (or a people’s convention). While we are happy to see that our efforts on AR86 and SR47 have come to fruition, we do understand that a lot of work remains to be done.
Here’s a sampling of what we’re working on NOW.
- Direct contact with New Jersey’s national congressional legislators on the topic of money in politics and specifically a constitutional amendment to re-enable or instigate campaign and lobbying reforms in America
- Passage of local resolutions throughout the state
- Grassroots organization building
- Efforts to broaden the base to include a wider spectrum of political partisans and civic groups
- Efforts to educate the public and the media
Current List of States calling for a constitutional amendment (at the time of New Jersey’s passage).
This is what people-power looks like. People are rising up all over the country and saying they want a government by, of and for the people; NOT by, of and for the money interests!!
Again – THANKS to all involved!
Contact Us to Get Involved.
A.R. 86 passes in the New Jersey Assembly!
This follows on the heels of the identical bill, S.R. 47, being passed in the New Jersey State Senate. Both sides of the New Jersey legislature have now passed the same resolution calling for a constitution amendment to restore the people’s right to develop and conduct free, fair and open elections.
On October 18th, 2012, A.R. 86, a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, passed through the New Jersey State Assembly. New Jersey becomes the 9th state in these United States to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
A.R. 86 had the sponsorship of these legislators:
Herb Conaway Jr. — Primary Sponsor
Daniel R. Benson — Primary Sponsor
Timothy J. Eustace — Primary Sponsor
Linda Stender — Primary Sponsor
Gordon M. Johnson — Co-Sponsor
Upendra J. Chivukula — Co-Sponsor
Ralph R. Caputo — Co-Sponsor
Reed Gusciora — Co-Sponsor
John F. McKeon — Co-Sponsor
Ruben J. RamosJr. — Co-Sponsor
Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. — Co-Sponsor
Benjie E. Wimberly — Co-Sponsor
Previously, on October 4th, the New Jersey State Senate passed S.R. 47, a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
We would like to thank the SR47 sponsors:
Jeff Van Drew – Primary Sponsor
Brian P. Stack – Primary Sponsor
Barbara Buono – Co-Sponsor
Shirley K. Turner – Co-Sponsor
Linda R. Greenstein – Co-Sponsor
M. Teresa Ruiz – Co-Sponsor
The NJ Senate AND Assembly have spoken and the US Congress can now consider their call for a constitutional amendment.
We applaud all of the legislators fighting to restore free, fair and open elections to America.
The campaign to pass S.R. 47 and A.R. 86 is spearheaded by the NJ Coalition for the Overturn of Citizens United. The Coalition includes: American Dream Movement of Cape May County, BlueWaveNJ, Food and Water Watch, Free Speech For People, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 877, New Jersey Common Cause, New Jersey American Federation of Teachers, New Jersey Communications Workers of America, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey MoveOn Councils (Mid-Jersey, Essex, Hudson), New Jersey Main Street Alliance, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, New Jersey Sierra Club, New Jersey State Industrial Union Council, New Jersey Tenants Organization, New Jersey Work Environment Council, New Jersey Working Families Alliance, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, United Steelworkers District 4, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.