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Tuesday, 22 January 2013 20:31

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern Introduces Two Constitutional Amendments To Overturn Citizens United

Written by  Rep. Jim McGovern | Press Release

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) today introduced two Constitutional amendments to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which unleashed a flood of corporate and special interest money into the American political system.

The first amendment, HJ Res 20, advances the fundamental principle of political equality for all by empowering Congress and the States to regulate political spending.  It will allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand Constitutional challenges.   

The second amendment, HJ Res 21 , would overturn Citizens United and put a stop to the growing trend of corporations claiming first amendment rights.  This “People’s Rights Amendment” not only addresses corporate rights as they pertain to campaign finance, but is broader in scope to clarify that corporations are not people with Constitutional rights.  Importantly, the amendment clearly protects the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association, and all other such rights of the people.

“The American people are deeply troubled by the growing influence of corporations in our political discourse,” Rep. McGovern said.  “They are also demanding action on campaign finance reform – because they are repulsed by the large amount of money in our campaigns. And, quite frankly, they want elected officials to spend more time on policy, on debating and deliberating on issues – and less time dialing for dollars.

“We need to have a serious, thoughtful debate in this country about this important issue,” Rep. McGovern said.  “I hope that my amendments will begin to spur that debate.”

  The video of his floor speech, along with a copy of his remarks as prepared is below.

The text of the two amendments is attached below.

Remarks on the introduction of campaign finance reform and corporate personhood legislation
Representative James P. McGovern
January 22, 2013

M. Speaker, three years have passed since the Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision, and we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of corporate money flowing into our elections, drowning out the voices of ordinary American citizens eager to participate in the political process.

Citizens Unitedalso epitomizes the so-called “corporate personhood” movement in which some now say that corporations are people.  The fact is, corporations are not people, and the Constitution was never intended to give corporations the same rights as the American people. Corporations don’t breath. They don’t have kids. They don’t die in wars.

My constituents continue to express concern about the growing influence of corporations in our political discourse.  They are also demanding action on campaign finance reform – because they are repulsed by the large amount of money in our campaigns. And, quite frankly, they want elected officials to spend more time on policy, on debating and deliberating on issues – and less time dialing for dollars.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the House has failed to address these pressing issues during the past two years.  They have been indifferent. We haven’t had the opportunity to vote on any legislation to curb the influence of unlimited and sometimes secret corporate money flowing into our elections.  We haven’t even had the opportunity to address these issues in Committee hearings or mark-ups.

Recently, I joined 18 of my colleagues on a letter to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers of the Judiciary Committee requesting a hearing to explore Constitutional Amendment proposals in response to Citizens United and related cases.  I hope we will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in the coming weeks and months.  This is, after all, the people’s house – and this is the place where we ought to discuss the concerns of the people.

Members of the Democratic Caucus have been working to reform our campaign finance system and restore the rights of the American people that were undermined by the Citizens United decision.  We have sponsored and cosponsored legislation to address the growing influence of money in our democratic process. 

As a member of the Task Force on Election Reform, I am proud to join my colleagues in working to rein in corporate spending and address unregulated money flowing into our elections.

Today I am introducing two Constitutional Amendments.  The People’s Rights Amendment would overturn Citizens United and put a stop to the growing trend of corporations claiming first amendment rights.  This amendment not only addresses corporate rights as they pertain to campaign finance, but is broader in scope to clarify that corporations are not people with Constitutional rights. 

Importantly, my amendment clearly protects the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association, and all other such rights of the people.

My second Amendment advances the fundamental principle of political equality for all by empowering Congress and the States to regulate political spending.  It will allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand Constitutional challenges.   

M. Speaker, we need to empower people – not corporations or big monied special interests.  Our current system has been corrupted – It undermines the rights of ordinary citizens. The preamble to the Constitution is “we the people.”  Let us hope this Congress doesn’t forget that.

I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting these important bills to reform our campaign finance laws and ensure that corporate rights do not trump people’s rights.

Campaign Finance Amendment Text (01/22/13 08:24 AM PST)
People's Rights (01/22/13 08:21 AM PST)

Congressman Jim McGovern
Read 3232 times Last modified on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 20:38

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