Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference July 30, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Schumer and other U.S. Senate Democrats met to to discuss the "Democracy for All Amendment," a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. Also pictured (L-R) are Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democrats Propose Constitutional Amendment to 'Wipe Clean the Dark Stain' of Citizens United

"To restore our one-person-one-vote democracy, we must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and stop this country's slide to oligarchy."

Supporters of Senate Democrats' proposed Democracy for All constitutional amendment, aimed at reversing the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, said Tuesday that the proposal represents a much-needed step in ending the outsize influence wealthy corporations have on U.S. elections.

Lead sponsors Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) spoke on the steps outside the high court, calling for an amendment that would affirm that "corporations are not people and your net worth shouldn't determine your right to free speech."

"Ever since the Supreme Court ruled to open the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending in our elections, secret special interest money has poured in—and drowned out the voices of the American people," said Udall. "And the door has opened even wider for the ultra-wealthy and well-connected to root themselves in our government and pull the levers of our democracy."

As the government watchdog group Public Citizen said, "Winning the progressive agenda is predicated on winning" the fight for legislation like the Democracy for All Amendment.

The amendment would overturn what the lawmakers called "disastrous" Supreme Court decisions including Citizens United, which ended (pdf) state and federal limits on campaign spending and unleashed unprecedented corporate PAC spending on elections, with a record-breaking $5.2 billion spent in 2018.

Doing so would "help ensure the voices of all Americans count as much as those of the wealthy and powerful," the lawmakerssaid.

The bill to pass the amendment has the support of 40 senators, while the House version has 130 co-sponsors. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed his support for stopping the country's "slide to oligarchy" on Twitter.

Patriotic Millionaires, the organization of wealthy Americans who campaign against policies which favor their financial enrichment while leaving the vast majority of families behind, also applauded the measure.

"The Patriotic Millionaires have long taken the position that everyone in this country should have the same political influence as us wealthy folks, and we are thrilled to support this amendment with that mission in mind," said Morris Pearl, former managing director at Blackrock and chairman of the Patriotic Millionaires. "It’s time for this country to wipe clean the dark stain that Citizens United has left on our democracy."

"The ruling, among several other key court cases addressed in this proposed amendment, has transformed our political system into a pay-to-play scheme where only the wealthiest among us can make their voices heard while average Americans are hung out to dry," Pearl added. "The basic principle of democracy is one person, one vote—not one dollar, one vote."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·