Amend 2012 on the Senate floor
Written by Corey Goldstone
Support is growing nationwide for the movement against the Supreme Court’s odious decision in Citizens United. According to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) 1.7 million signatures have been gathered for an amendment to close the “independent expenditure” loophole, while Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) testified that there are 92 representatives and 28 senators who support the idea of a constitutional amendment to that effect.
On Tuesday, the Senate held a hearing entitled “Taking Back Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs.” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) peered down below the rim of his eyeglasses to glare at Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the CATO Institute. He asked Shapiro whether he should recuse himself from the discussion, since his employer, the CATO Institute has received massive donations from the Koch brothers and other corporate financiers that have taken advantage of Citizens United. Shapiro’s counterargument was that if people wish to shrink the influence of money in politics, they should be campaigning to reduce the size of government.
Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig countered with his own proposal combating the negative effects of Citizens United. In his testimony, he said that conventions of 300 randomly selected citizens, held in four regions of the country, could act as a citizens’ jury of how to craft an amendment. This grassroots approach could restore the trust of the people in the government’s “capacity to fix itself to deal with the core problem.” Lessig credited Common Cause for their work in generating interest in a constitutional solution.
Others testified on the urgency of the situation. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed fears that our post-Citizens United political climate would alienate the people our democracy was created to protect. “We’re going to prevent people from casting a vote, but allow corporations unlimited influence? We need to restore balance in our democracy!” he declared.
In a statement that appeared at first to be in support of the status quo, former Republican Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer claimed, “Our system is not broken.” But, the former governor of Louisiana went on in a way that rings true for any ‘good government’ advocate. “The system is not broken, Mr. Chairman, it is bought.”
People have a chance to influence politics again, and it can be done through an amendment to the constitution. Click here to find out what YOU can do to help the movement!
Corey Goldstone is a Syracuse Orangeman, braving the harsh winters to study American Political Science with a Concentration in Public Policy and the Legal System. He has volunteered for a local Obama reelection movement, interned for the Federal Affairs office of CSX, and worked for New York State constituents at Senator Charles Schumer’s CNY Office. His interest is in exposing the roadblocks to democracy that prevent everyday citizens from accessing electoral politics.