Encouraged by the leadership of Senator Bernie Sanders and the phone calls, emails, and petition signatures of thousands of Americans, the Vermont Senate passed a resolution to undo the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.
The resolution approved by the Senate asks Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to clarify that “money is not speech and corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.” The state Senate vote came after similar resolutions were passed in March by voters in 64 Vermont communities on Town Meeting Day.
“I congratulate the Vermont Senate for this important vote. Citizens United was one of the worst decisions ever handed down by the Supreme Court. The people of Vermont and across America are totally disgusted with the huge amounts of money that billionaires and corporations are now throwing into the political process as a result of that misguided decision,” said Sen. Sanders.
In December 2011, Sanders introduced the Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would restore the power of Congress and state lawmakers to enact campaign spending limits like laws that were in place for a century before the controversial Citizens United ruling.
Since that time, lawmakers in several other states have introduced similar measures, applying a great deal of pressure to Congress and the Obama Administration. Montana, originally ruled that its 100 year-old ban against corporate political spending trumped Citizens United, but that decision was challenged by a conservative organization and several corporations. The case will now come before the Supreme Court, giving the Justices a long anticipated chance to reevaluate the impact of their 2010 decision.
In Washington, a summit meeting is scheduled for April 18 in the Capitol on local, state, and federal efforts to amend the Constitution in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. The meeting is hosted by Sens. Sanders and Tom Udall (D-N.M) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Jim McGovern. (D-Mass.).
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