Here’s How You Can Tell Congress To Dump Citizens United

On January 18, Common Cause will launch their “Amend 2012″ campaign as part of a growing movement against the free-flow of corporate cash into the American electoral system. “Amend 2012″ will put voter instruction measures on state ballots that give voters the chance to tell their congressional representatives to adopt an amendment denying personhood to corporations.

It’s a strategy with a long history in American politics. Constituent instructions played a key role in the adoption of early constitutional amendments. Almost all of the early American colonies used instructions from assemblies of voters to order their elected representatives to take specific positions.

Voter instructions were one of the tactics used to pass the 17th Amendment for the direct election of Senators. In 1908 Oregon voters achieved direct election of U.S. Senators by passing a ballot measure that instructed the state legislature to appoint to the U.S. Senate the candidates who received the highest number of votes in the general election. Soon other states started using the Oregon model to ensure that more Senators who were, in effect, elected based on popular vote to become advocates for the 17th Amendment, leading to its passage in 1913.

The time is right for a campaign like this. In 2010 the Hawaii legislature passed a resolution requesting Congress pass a constitutional amendment to clarify the distinction between corporations and natural persons and preserve the power of Congress and the states to limit corporate political expenditures. In 2011 the Hawaii House followed up by passing a stronger version that “urged” Congress to pass an amendment providing that corporations are not persons. Similar resolutions have since followed in Vermont, California and New York City.

Make no mistake about it, this will not be an easy task. It takes 68 votes for a constitutional amendment to clear the U.S. Senate, and considering how intent corporations are in keeping their personhood status, there will be lots of pressure on Senators to reject these non-binding instructions. But with your help, in the form of direct lobbying and grassroots pressure instructions passed in 12-14 states could lay that groundwork. Once through the Senate 38 states would need to ratify the amendment, with the foundation for ratification already in place through the efforts at the Senate.

Yes, this is hard, and yes it is technical, wonky stuff. But corporate interests are relying on voter apathy and exhaustion. They are not prepared for a citizenry armed with a true desire to demand transparency and accountability in their elections. For once, the momentum is on our side. Let’s take it.


Related Stories:

You Can Help Overturn Citizens United [VIDEO]

GOP Supports Unlimited Corporate Spending


Photo from Kevin Burkett via flickr.


Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer6 years ago

Citizens United was accomplished by a Republican majority Supreme Court. The Republican agenda is one of corporate ascendancy and the U.S. be damned.

John S.
John S6 years ago

"It takes 68 votes for a constitutional amendment to clear the U.S. Senate..."

Actually, it takes 67 votes in the U.S. Senate AND 290 votes in the U.S. House for an amendment to be proposed.

Dan B.
Dan Brook6 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-education, anti-99%, union busting, Medicare and Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

Walter G.
Walter G6 years ago

They'll just bribe their way around us. by the tiime electrions roll around the level of civil discontent may have reached dangerous levels.

Diane Nelson
Diane Nelson6 years ago

Thanks for the additional info on CU.

Tim R.
Tim R.6 years ago

As part of the Occupy movement, I realize that getting corporate and billionaire money out of politics is key to getting a government for the 99% instead of the 1% who own most members of both parties of Congress right now. Tactically speaking, though, I feel the way to make the change is not to go back to many of the same corrupt incumbents who have been blocking real campaign finance reform and public campaign financing, and expect them to vote for a Constitutional Amendment that would regulate where a majority of their campaign donations come from. The way to get money out of politics is to use our social networks to replace bribe-inducing TV ads and elect pro-99% candidates who refuse corporate money and promise to vote to ban corporate campaign contributions. We need different politicians to pass different laws and create a system that works for 99% of them. That's why I like the ten "fresh democracy" candidates who launched this week with . We need hundreds like them. THEY will VOTE TO AMEND in January 2013. Not the corporate whores we have in Congress now. supports the important policy objective of the Move to Amend effort, to end the corruption of our political system by huge corporate donations. We feel that the most immediate and effective way of bringing about this essential change is for we, the people, to use our social and personal networks to become, and support, COngressional candidates who run without corpor

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W6 years ago

August C wrote:

"So you would give executives in corporations twice the rights the rest of us have, correct?

The PEOPLE who run the companies in question have all the rights conferred on people. Fine.
But why should they, as CEO's and presidents of corporations then be able to exercise those rights a second time as "corporate persons"?

Your argument falls apart when examined in the light of day."

The fault lies not with my argument, but in your confusion. All citizens are limited in the amount the can directly contribute to a candidate, but Citizens United is not about that. It concerns the ability of certain corporations to contribute to PAC's within 60 days of the election. Citizens are not limited in how much they can contribute in that matter, so there is no issue of a "second time", and the Supreme Court rightly determined that organizations of citizens of similarly not so encumbered.

Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

Citizens United is the second or third worst decision ever made by a Supreme Court. That's what happens when we elect right wing conservatives to office who then put ultra right wing religious zealots of the Supreme Court. It will be very difficult to overturn that decision.

Eddie Y.
Eddie Y.6 years ago

About time, Accountability and Yransparency in our Elections without the hidden and obscure manipulation of votes bought with corporate greed money

Carole H.
Carole H6 years ago

As not American cannot participate in this but wish you well and good luck...