The most under-covered yet dynamic grassroots movement in the United States seeks to restore the right of citizens and their representatives to organize elections so the votes of the great mass of American citizens matter more than the dollars of billionaire campaign donors and multinational corporations.
Sixteen states have formally demanded that Congress take action to amend the US Constitution to undo the damage done by the US Supreme Court’s decisions to eliminate century old barriers to the buying of elections. Close to 600 towns, villages, cities and counties have also made the ask. During the first weeks of March in New Hampshire, forty-seven town meetings called for a constitutional amendment. In early April, thirteen Wisconsin communities voted overwhelmingly to call on their elected representatives to begin the amendment process.
Now, Washington is listening.
The US Senate will vote this year on a proposed constitutional amendment, according to Senate Rules Committee chairman Charles Schumer, D-New York, who declared Wednesday that “The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections. That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. The only way to undo the damage the court has done is to pass [an] amendment to the Constitution, and Senate Democrats are going to try to do that.”
The announcement came as the Rules Committee was meeting to hear from former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who has urged consideration of an amendment “because of a very strong state interest in trying to establish equality of opportunity for competing candidates to get elected.”
Echoing the sentiments of the millions of Americans who have called for amending the Constitution, Stevens says that under the system created by the court rulings in cases such as Citizens United v Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission, “The voter is less important than the man who provides money to the candidate.” In order to address what Stevens identifies as “a giant step in the wrong direction, an amendment is needed to allow Congress and the states to impose “reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”