Payne Joins Dems in Introducing Democracy for All Constitutional Amendment to Reign in Big Money in Politics and Restore One Voice, One Vote to the American Democratic Process

Jul 17, 2014 Issues: Local Issues

Newark, N.J. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) co-introduced the Democracy for All Amendment with U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-21), Donna Edwards (MD-4), and Jim McGovern (MA-2). H. J. Res. 119 is the House companion to S. J. Res. 19, the constitutional amendment slated for a historic vote in the U.S. Senate this year. The Democracy for All Amendment will reverse highly controversial Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, which have given corporations and the wealthiest donors the right to buy unlimited influence in our elections.

“Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon have cast a dark shadow over our democracy by bringing us dangerously closer to an electoral system where the voices of everyday Americans are easily drowned out by corporations, shadowy groups, and a handful of billionaires,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “At a time when Americans of every political persuasion want big money out of our elections, the Democracy for All Amendment will restore Congressional authority to pass laws protecting the integrity of our electoral process.  By reversing Citizens United and related cases, this amendment will advance the basic principle of one voice, one vote that is the foundation of our democracy.”

Background

Since the 2010 Citizens United decision, Americans have witnessed an unprecedented explosion of big money in state and federal elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside spending tripled between 2008 and 2012, and 93 percent of the more than $600 million spent in 2012 by Super PACs came from about 3,300 donors, or .0011 percent of the American population. 

Beyond the explosion of outside spending invited by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, this decision also dramatically undermined the legitimacy of all campaign finance laws. In his far-reaching opinion for the 5-4 majority, Justice Kennedy held that any election law that goes beyond preventing quid pro quo, bribery-style corruption between candidates and donors risks violating the First Amendment. Unfortunately, in 2014 the Supreme Court only further embraced this narrow understanding of corruption in McCutcheon v. FEC when it invalidated aggregate limits on how much a single donor could spend per election cycle.  Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts even went so far as to argue that the influence awarded to donors is not a corrupting transaction, but rather a First Amendment right.

Sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), S. J. Res. 19 was amended and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 10, 2014. The provisions within the Democracy for All Amendment are the product of months of collaboration between the House and Senate sponsors of previously proposed constitutional amendments, constitutional scholars, and grassroots advocacy organizations committed to restoring the integrity of our electoral process.  In addition to overturning recent rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Democracy for All Amendment also reverses the Supreme Court’s controversial holding in Buckley v. Valeo that spending money in elections is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Download a copy of the amendment here: https://go.usa.gov/Xzqk

Section I.  To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section II.  Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section III.  Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

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