(WASHINGTON) – Today, at a Congressional Summit on Overturning Citizens United, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) pledged to work towards passing a constitutional amendment to expressly permit Congress the power to regulate corporate spending in federal elections. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United v. FEC equated corporate campaign donations with free speech, overturned established federal campaign finance laws, and opened the floodgates on unlimited campaign spending by Super PACs. The summit highlighted local, state, and federal efforts to limit the ruling by amending the U.S. Constitution. Ranking Member Conyers along with Representative Donna Edwards (D-Md.) have introduced one such amendment in the House this Congress as H.J. Res. 78.
Ranking Member Conyers released this statement following the summit:
John Conyers, Jr.
“The Supreme Court’s holding that corporate political speech is no different than an individual citizen’s political speech was not the law when the Constitution was written, was not the law before the Supreme Court’s decision, and should not be the law in the future. The Citizens United decision undermines citizens’ faith in our Nation’s democratic process. Congress regulated corporate campaign donations to limit not only the potential for corruption, but also the appearance of corruption. The mere appearance of impropriety has a corrosive effect on voters’ belief in the legitimacy of the government.
“Fortunately, we have options to preserve the integrity of our democratic electoral system. To date, 12 proposals to amend the Constitution in response to Citizens United have been introduced this Congress, including H.J. Res. 78. I accept the Supreme Court’s authority to determine the law’s constitutionality. But many of my colleagues and I respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision in this matter. That is why I pledged to support amending the Constitution of the United States to restore the rights of the American people, undermined by Citizens United and related cases, to protect the integrity of our elections and limit the corrosive influence of money in our democratic process.
“Congress needs to take a leading role in initiating the process to amend the Constitution. As elected officials, it is imperative that we demonstrate to the American people our dedication to the principal that the voters, not moneyed corporate interests, should determine the outcome of elections. A constitutional amendment providing Congress the explicit authority to regulate corporate campaign contributions would do much to restore the American people’s faith in honest and fair elections.”
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