A bipartisan House coalition, led by Reps. Richard Nolan, DFL-Minn., and Walter Jones, R-N.C., introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to take big money out of politics.
The measure, similar to proposals authored – like this one – after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, faces a rocky road, despite wide public support and backing from the 59-group Democracy Coalition, which the Communications Workers founded.
A new Move To Amend coalition also backs the “We The People” amendment. More than 600 local governments, passed supportive resolutions, too, the Duluth Labor World said.
But constitutional amendments need approval of two-thirds of each house of Congress and three-fourths of the states to be added to the nation’s basic charter. That’s a high hurdle.
And Congress’ ruling Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., hate curbing big money. To them, like the court’s majority, money equals “free speech.”
“Citizens United granted corporations and other legal entities the right of free speech under the 1st Amendment and opened federal election campaigns to the free flow of billions of unrestricted and unreported dollars,” a statement from Nolan’s office says.
Their proposal would say that, despite the 1st Amendment’s free speech section, Congress has the power to regulate and control private financing of political campaigns. Citizens United and subsequent High Court rulings have trashed that power, opening the way to a tsunami of unregulated sums from corporations and big givers.
“It’s time to establish once and for all that corporations are not people, money is not free speech, and our elections and public policy-making process are not for sale to the highest corporate bidders,” Nolan explained in introducing the proposal, House Joint Resolution 38.
“It’s time to take the molding and shaping of public policy out of corporate boardrooms, away from corporate lobbyists, and give it back to the American people. We must divert Congress’ focus away from the corporate interests of millionaires and billionaires and return it back to creating good-paying jobs and rebuilding our middle class,” Nolan added.
Nolan said corporate cash has so much influence over campaigns and elections that it produces “an enormous and destructive influence” on issues ranging from taxes to trade to worker rights. And it leads to “protection of Wall Street interests over American consumers.”
Besides Nolan and Jones, other co-sponsors include Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. – a Painters member – and Donald Norcross, D-N.J., a former Building Trades union leader there.
They also include Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum, both DFL-Minn., Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio, both D-Ore., Louise Slaughter, Eliot Engel, and Paul Tonko, all D-N.Y., and John Conyers, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of the U.S. House.