Trending: Citizens Fight for Balance in Campaign Finance
For many young people, even modest campaign contributions cut into a narrow personal budget. It's no wonder, then, that there is now such wide opposition to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which established that corporations and unions could make unlimited campaign contributions. Recently, West Virginians for Democracy took their discontent to the state capitol, calling upon state legislators to support a resolution that would encourage Congress for a constitutional amendment that would nullify the ruling.
To date, eight different Constitutional amendments designed to overturn Citizens United have been introduced during the 113th Congress and the idea is beginning to pick up traction among lawmakers. In late February, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) pushed strongly for an amendment to overturn Citizens United, comparing the case to the landmark Dred Scott case and calling for both cases to be overturned through the amendment process.
“Since the Citizens United ruling, there has been a tremendous upsurge of people recognizing the depth of problems with money in the political system,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, a senior organizer at the Democracy is for People campaign. “People feel that their voices and votes don’t count when the influence of money in politics if so disproportionate.”
The West Virginia resolution complements similar resolutions by state legislatures in North Carolina and New Hampshire. In addition to those states, more than 350 cities and 11 states have already called for the Citizens United ruling to be overturned.
The constitutional amendment, which would overturn the Citizens United decision, was originally introduced in June 2012 by California Representative Adam Schiff.
In early February, Shiff reintroduced the amendment, which would ensure the rights of Congress or state legislatures to impose “reasonable content-neutral limitations on private campaign contributions or independent election expenditures, or from enacting systems of public campaign financing.”
Several other legislators have Constitutional amemdments to overturn Citizens United, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), who proposed the Saving American Democracy Amendment during the 112th Congress, and Minnesota Representative Rick Nolan, who is working with national organization Move to Amend to overturn the court ruling.
Citizens United is only one aspect of campaign finance reform battle. The Supreme Court recently announced that it would review the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission case, which could lead to the elimination of individual contribution limits in federal elections.
“It’s outrageous how out of touch the Supreme Court is with voters today,” said Minkoff-Zern. “Eliminating individual contribution limits would allow the extremely wealthy to continue controlling politics, and the issues that are important to them are extremely different than those that are important to everyday Americans.”
Current individual contribution limits are set at $2,600 to a single candidate per race for a 2-year contribution limit of $123,200. If the Supreme Court overturns the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, the per candidate limit would be upheld but the total cap on contributions would be eliminated.
Molly Miller is a reporter for Campus Progress.