During a Reddit IAmA chat, President Obama made some big news today by announcing that he supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
During his Reddit chat, Obama touched a topic that very few elected politicians will go near. The president not only discussed the role of money in politics, but he also endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
The president said, “Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”
A certain Vermont Senator just so happens to have both a constitutional amendment and a movement behind it to overturn Citizens United.
SECTION 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.
SECTION 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.
SECTION 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.
SECTION 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.
Hundreds of thousands of people have signed the petition in support of the constitutional amendment. People who have been paying attention to the effort to overturn Citizens United know exact what the president was referring to.
Obama was correct. The odds of successfully changing the constitution are small, but the amendment gives opponents a chance to discuss Citizens United each time it is brought up and talked about. The Disclose Act is just the first step. Citizens United must be overturned, and President Obama has provided a huge shot in the arm to Bernie Sanders and his movement to stop the conservative billionaires from buying our government.