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Senate Advances Effort to Overturn Citizens United

Advocates: Democracy for All amendment stands for the idea that 'big ideas, not big money, should rule in the public square'

Ahead of the Senate vote, people rallied outside of the Capitol building Monday afternoon calling on lawmakers to "get the money out" of politics. (Photo: Public Citizen).

In what advocates are calling a boon for "true democracy," the U.S. Senate on Monday voted to advance a constitutional amendment to overturn two recent Supreme Court decisions that have "opened the floodgates" to unlimited election spending from corporations and wealthy individuals.

Voting 79-18 to overcome a filibuster, Senators from both parties elected to open up S.J. Resolution 19—known as the "Democracy for All" amendment—to full debate. The legislation seeks to undo Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC by authorizing Congress and the states to limit fundraising and spending on federal candidates. The amendment also prohibits the Supreme Court from reversing any future campaign finance legislation passed by Congress.

"If we are going to maintain a true democracy, it's imperative we overturn Citizens United," Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) declared before the vote, speaking to a crowd of people rallying outside the Capitol building.

Groups advocating for the amendment—including Greenpeace, Credo Mobile, Common Cause, Public Citizen, and People for the American Way—delivered over three million signatures calling on lawmakers to "make Congress more responsive to the interests of average Americans – not just the super wealthy and corporate interests.” The "Democracy for All" amendment, the petition reads, "is one of the critical steps to repairing our democracy.”

As the amendment now faces up to 30 hours of debate before it must win a two-thirds majority vote to pass the Senate, groups are pressuring individuals to contact their representatives and voice favor for the measure. A roll call for Monday's vote can be found here.

"Poll after poll confirms that a clear majority of Americans agree that it’s vital to rein in the power of big money in politics and the corruption that goes with it," said public interest group Common Cause in a press statement following the vote. "The amendment is our best chance to do just that."

SJ Resolution 19, the statement continues, "stands for the proposition that big ideas, not big money, should rule in the public square. It preserves every American’s right to speak and write as he or she pleases and protects against efforts by a privileged few to drown out that speech with a flood of negative advertising."

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