This week, we took the first step to call for a Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit or prohibit corporate spending for political speech, when the Senate Rules & Administration Committee approved SJR 1.
The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission gave corporations, limited liability companies and other corporate entities greater rights of political activity, effectively eroding the distinction between the political free speech of individuals and political activity by corporate entities.
Despite claims that the ruling favored free speech, a majority of Americans don’t believe that corporations should be treated as people. Instead, voters are eager to reduce the influence of corporations in politics. According to a July 2014 poll by Lake Research Partners, more than three in five voters oppose the ruling, with a high intensity of opposition. You can read more at www.citizen.org/documents/
The concerns that citizens have about the Supreme Court ruling include:
- A corporation should not be treated as an individual.
- The voice of individuals will be drowned out, and only the corporations will be heard.
- Small business owners are unable to compete.
- Corporations could pressure elected officials on how to vote.
- The skyrocketing cost of elections.
The impact of Citizens United is trickling down to local races. For example, in the April 2012 Oklahoma City Council election, a Super PAC spent $400,000 on four candidates for a job that only pays $12,000 annually. Three of the four supported by the Super PAC won office.
The Constitutional Convention called for in SJR 1 is a long-term solution to reverse the court’s ruling. Article V of the U.S. Constitution lays out the process for proposing an amendment for submission to the states for ratification. If the Constitutional Convention is for a purpose other than for what is expressly called for in this resolution, the request for the Constitutional Convention is null and void.
SJR 1 is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate.