St. Louis—More than 700 American communities and 17 states have demanded federal action to amend the US Constitution in order to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which knocked down barriers to the buying of elections by multinational corporations. Now Hillary Clinton says that, if she is elected president, she wants to lead the charge.
In a taped video prepared for Saturday’s Netroots Nation gathering of progressive activists here, the presumptive Democratic nominee announced that she plans to propose an amendment within the first 30 days of her presidency. Clinton made the announcement as part of a broader statement to activists whom she hailed for helping to “put political and campaign finance reform at the top of the national agenda.”
In addition to her pledge to “propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people, all of us, a chance to reclaim our democracy,” Clinton said that she will “appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy. I will fight for other progressive reforms, including small-dollar matching and disclosure requirements. I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts.”
As it happens, Clinton’s video was prepared for a crowd that included lawyers from groups, such as Free Speech for People, who have been developing plans to bring such cases.
But the candidate’s highlighting of the need for a constitutional response to the crisis of big-money influence over elections and governance is especially important, as she is embracing the bold and direct approach that has been championed by grassroots activists who have worked with the Move to Amend and Democracy Is For People campaigns, among others. Those activists have demanded a 28th amendment that makes it clear that corporations are not people, that money is not speech and that citizens (and their elected representatives) have a right to organize elections in which their votes matter more than billionaire dollars.
The Clinton announcement is not so much a new position—she indicated last year that she saw an amendment as one option for dialing down the influence of big money in politics—as it is a new indication of the seriousness with which she plans to approach the issue. It is a sign, as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s Marissa Barrow noted, that Clinton will “elevate the fight against big money influence in politics during her first month in office.”