They agree it's time to fix
the problem · They don't
agree on the wording
Introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the amendment reverses Citizen's United by stating that corporations are not people under the Constitution, and that corporations are barred from making election-related expenditures. It authorizes Congress and the states to regulate all election contributions and expenditures, and reaffirms Congress' right to regulate corporations.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Saving American Democracy Amendment
Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment in the Senate that is similar to the OCCUPIED amendment in the House. Introducing this “companion bill” allows both houses of Congress to begin debate on the same bill without having to wait for the other to pass it. The amendment states that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as real people and affirms that they can be regulated. It prohibits corporations from any campaign spending and gives Congress and states the power to regulate campaign finance.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Wolf PAC Amendment
Wolf PAC, a group started by progressive TV and radio host Cenk Uygur, reverses corporate personhood and prohibits corporations from giving to any politician. The amendment also sets a cap of $100 on all political donations and it establishes a public system to fund political campaigns.Read this amendment »
Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) along with eight other Democratic Senators proposed an amendment that gives Congress the power to regulate all money spent on campaigns and outside political groups such as Super PACs. It allows states to regulate state elections in the same manner. It would clear the way for Congress to pass reform legislation that would limit spending and would withstand a challenge in the Supreme Court.Learn more » Read this amendment »
The People's Right's Amendment
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced the amendment with the support of Free Speech for People, a non-profit group that aims to end corporate personhood. The amendment states that people or persons as used in the Constitution does not include corporations and that corporations are subject to regulation by the people through their elected representatives.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Democracy is for People Amendment
Pursued by the non-profit group Public Citizen, the amendment would reverse the Citizen's United decision and permit Congress to regulate political spending by corporations. The amendment has not been drafted into specific language, but is based on a set of core principles.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons announced support for an amendment in a speech to Occupy Boston protesters. The amendment establishes public funding of political campaigns and prohibits any political contributions from any source. It gives Congress the authority to design and enforce the public funding system.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Introduced by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the amendment authorizes Congress and the states to set limits on the contributions that may be accepted by and the expenditures that may be made in support or in opposition to candidates running for public office.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Renew Democracy Amendment
Proposed by a group of the same name, the amendment would affirm the right to vote, prohibit corporations from making political donations, and limit campaign contributions to “an amount reasonably affordable by the average American.” It allows Congress to regulate the volume of political speech, but not the content, “only to protect the right of the individual voter's voice to be heard.”Learn more » Read this amendment »
Get Money Out Amendment
The amendment was proposed by the Get Money Out organization, which was started by MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan, and became a part of United Republic in late 2011. The amendment prohibits corporations from making political donations and affirms that political donations are not speech, which allows Congress to regulate them. It also makes election day a federal holiday.Read this amendment »
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard professor and founder of Rootstrikers, which joined forces with United Republic in late 2011, introduced an amendment that prohibits corporations from contributing money to any candidate, limits campaign contributions to $100, and gives Congress the power to regulate outside campaign spending.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Get Corp. Money Out of Politics Amendment
Introduced by Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), this amendment reverses Citizens United, declares that corporations are not people and reinstates the ability of Congress and individual states to regulate campaign funds raised and spent by for-profit corporations. It cites corruption among politicians as a primary reason for the amendment.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Introduced by Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), this bill declares that money, specifically campaign contributions, does not qualify as free speech protected by the First Amendment. It also gives Congress the ability to enact a mandatory public financing system and a public holiday for elections.Learn more » Read this amendment »
Seems like every time we turn our heads, someone’s proposing a new constitutional amendment to fix the money in politics problem. We were a little overwhelmed at the sheer number of ‘em, and started to feel like idiots. So we created this handy cheat sheet.
Legalized political bribery?
Here’s the miserable truth about our current political system: Corporations and individuals can spend unlimited amounts of money, in total secrecy, to sway elections and buy access to politicians. The courts have given them this power, allowing them to manipulate, strong-arm, and essentially bribe our government.
The good news: We’re not the only ones who know that this is a serious problem. Nearly 80 percent of Americans think our democracy is being bought and sold. Tens of millions of people know that something needs to be done about it. Something big. Now.
Like what? If we really want to fix the problem — not just tinker — we need to amend the Constitution.
Why? Because, otherwise, most laws that could be passed to fix the problem will be shot down by the courts (more on that later).
Past efforts to limit political contributions and spending have focused on passing campaign finance reform laws (you may have heard of the most recent, the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law). These efforts were well-intentioned, but were either too small to accomplish anything or were undermined by the courts, so they all failed to really fix the problem. How do we know? Lots of ways. But here’s one example: The 2012 elections are projected to see an infusion of over $6 billion into the political process. That’s a new record. Four times higher than what was spent in 2002, and almost double that of 2004!
This surge in funding is partly due to the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on Citizens United (now there’s an ironic name if we’ve ever heard one). That ruling says that corporations have the same free speech rights as people, and that political spending is like speech, enabling unlimited spending by corporations and unions. A later ruling then allowed corporations to contribute endless amounts of cash to the political system, which has helped create these new monsters called super PACs. Super PACs can raise endless amounts of money from corporations, unions, and individuals, and mount attacks against whomever they want.
Billions of dollars a year pour into politics &em; through super PACs, lobbying firms, political parties, think tanks, PR firms, fake grassroots groups, unions, wealthy individuals, and companies protecting their interests &em; often at the expense of the public interest.
Lobbyists love this system. The rest of us, not so much.
Washington has become an auction. If you want something, you better be willing to pay for it (but be forewarned: Lobbyists and elections aren’t cheap). Dirty coal companies buy dirty pollution laws. Big banks buy big bailouts and then block financial reform. Giant corporations outsource jobs and often get tax breaks to do so.
And what about we, the people? Our voices and ideas get drowned out. As a result, our system of government is no longer capable of solving the most pressing problems of our time.
And as long as the courts keep thinking the way they have about corporations as people and money as speech, the auction will continue. That’s why we have to go straight to the Constitution and create laws that the courts will be forced to uphold.
How to Amend
There are two ways to amend the Constitution, but only one of them has been used in the past. An amendment can be passed by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and then ratified by three-quarters of the 50 states. That’s some heavy lifting by any count, but it’s the only way the Constitution has ever been amended before.
The second has never been done, but some believe it’s the only way to fix the money-in-politics problem. Two-thirds of the state legislatures officially vote to hold a Constitutional convention, where representatives from each state gather, and amendments are proposed. Once the convention proposes one or more amendments, then three-quarters of the 50 states must ratify them.
Amending is intentionally a difficult process. Thousands of amendments have been proposed over the years, but only 27 have been ratified and made into law.
There are lots of victories we need along the path to amending the Constitution. See one idea here.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans now agree it’s time to get money out.
So let us begin.
Did we miss your organization’s amendment proposal? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.