Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bipartisan group of former AGs and law professors call on Congress to examine constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United decision

As the Supreme Court begins its new term this week, a group of law professors and attorneys, including seven former state attorneys general, have issued a letter criticizing the Court's Citizens United decision and calling on Congress to consider a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

The signers call the Citizens United decision, which has led to unprecedented injections of corporate cash into the 2010 midterm elections, “a serious danger to effective self-government of, for and by the American people.”

Among the signatories are former Massachusetts Attorneys General Scott Harshbarger and Frank Bellotti, of First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti fame, former Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods.

“As the mid-term elections near, it is becoming increasingly clear, according to widespread reports, that hundreds of millions of dollars and shadowy, anonymous front groups are dominating election spending and seeking to shape the outcome of not only the federal elections, but judicial and state elections as well,” said Harshbarger, also a former president of Common Cause.

Jeffrey D. Clements, General Counsel of Free Speech for People, which led the drafting and circulation of the letter, along with People for the American Way, welcomed the signers' support, adding "Americans across the political spectrum know that corporations are not people and that corporate treasuries do not equal ‘speech.’”

“Americans across the ideological spectrum share a deep concern that corporations have too much influence over our political system, at the expense of individual Americans,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. PFAW has just released a report detailing this year's influx of corporate-linked donations, focusing on nine pro-business groups.

Several bills introducing constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United are under consideration in Congress, including the Edwards-Conyers bill in the House and the Baucus and Dodd-Udall-Bennet-Specter bills in the Senate. In addition, resolutions calling for an amendment to be sent to the states have been introduced in several state legislatures, including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

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