Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are co-sponsors to a Constitutional Amendment designed to reverse the effects of Citizens United, a recent Supreme Court decision giving corporations and special interests the same free speech rights as individual persons.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC allows for unlimited corporate spending in elections. Many political observers agree the effect of unlimited corporate money in elections is toxic and corrosive to the political process. The ruling was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago.
On Thursday, both Wyden and Merkley indicated their support for a Constitutional amendment that “would empower Congress to once again regulate federal campaign donations and spending, and allow states to regulate money used in local elections.”
According to Senator Wyden’s official website the Constitutional amendment would:
Authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaign contributions and expenditures (including independent expenditures);
Allow states to regulate that raising and spending at their level;
Permit Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that could withstand constitutional challenges without prescribing what the reforms should be.
The proposed amendment was introduced to the Senate in November, 2011, by Democratic Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Michael Bennet of Colorado. Currently over 20 Senators now support the amendment.
In announcing his support for the amendment, Wyden released the following statement:
“Americans deserve to know the true interests behind the political ads they see and the campaigns of the candidates they choose to support,” Wyden said. “This is impossible in a system where unlimited sums of money can be anonymously raised and spent to support a candidate or derail a campaign. Accountability in elections is as important now as it was when I authored the original ‘Stand by your Ad’ legislation requiring candidates to publicly approve the ads their campaigns run. With the negative effects of the Supreme Court decision already becoming clear, a constitutional amendment is necessary to safeguard against the influence of big money and anonymous spending.”
Earlier this month, the Portland City Council passed a resolution rejecting the notion that corporations are people, and that money equals speech. The resolution was a rejection of the Citizens United ruling, reading as follows:
Establish as a position of the Portland City Council that corporations should not receive the same legal rights as natural persons do, that money is not speech and that independent expenditures should be regulated (in political campaigns).