The California Senate has joined the burgeoning opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens v. Federal Commission decision, in which justices overturned the ban on corporate and labor union campaign contributions to federal candidates.
Here’s what Common Cause, one of the proponents of a move to push Congress to support a constitutional amendment that would restore the restrictions, put out a few minutes ago after the Senate vote in Sacramento:
California Urges Congress to Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Becomes largest state to voice opposition to Supreme Court decision
Moments ago, the California State Senate approved a resolution that calls on Congress to support a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that repealed bans on corporate and labor money in politics. Today’s vote puts the country’s most populous state on the record in opposition to Citizens United.
“This unjust ruling cannot stand,” said Derek Cressman, who leads efforts to reverse Citizens United by the non-partisan group Common Cause. “Californians are disgusted by the huge sums of shadowy money that has been unleashed in the nation’s elections. If money is speech, then speech is no longer free.”
More than twenty California cities have passed similar resolutions, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Nevada City, and Chico, The city council of Richmond has placed a measure on this November’s ballot giving voters the opportunity to directly instruct their congressional delegation to reverse the Citizens United ruling. Common Cause is working with other cities in California to do the same thing as part of its Amend2012 campaign (www.Amend2012.org).
The Citizens United ruling has been widely criticized for using the logic that corporations deserve the same constitutional rights as real people and that spending unlimited sums of money to influence elections is the equivalent of the free speech rights to speak one’s mind without fear of government repercussions. Comedian Stephen Colbert had lampooned the so-called SuperPACs that sprang from the Citizens Untied ruling and other court actions on late night TV. Wealthy individuals such as Las Vegas casino operator Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, and Foster Friess used SuperPACs to significantly alter the course of the Republican presidential primary. The Los Angeles Times reports that George Soros will be giving $2 million to two Democratic leaning SuperPACs aimed at promoting voter turnout in the November election. Karl Rove has created a SuperPAC and an allied non-profit that shields its donors from disclosure that are expected to spend more than $200 million on the November elections.
Supporters of today’s action included Common Cause, CALPIRG, Public Citizen, California Church Impact, the League of Conservation Voters, and other groups. The organizations turned in more than 50,000 petition signatures gathered from within California to support the measure.