Writing a 28th Amendment to Save Our Democracy ... back >
June 24, 2018 - Concern about the role of big money in American politics is nothing new, but the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, the landmark 2010 ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend money to support or oppose candidates in elections, has raised the ante.  A number of organizations have proposed constitutional amendments which would rein in big money.  American Promise, an organization formed in 2016, held a three-day conference at the Washington Hilton to consider "What should a 28th Amendment really look like."  American Promise is holding a series of town halls over a period of 18 months to inform Americans and help them to address this question.
An online poll gauged attendees' views before and after the discussion.  Here the question was, "Which of the following must be in the 28th Amendment?"
- Americans have the right to limit campaign contributions and election spending
- Corporations do not have a constitutional right to spend money in elections
- Corporations do not have other constitutional rights of people
- Legislative districts shall not intentional favor any political party
- National popular vote / and the Electoral College
- Americans have a constitutional right to vote
- Democray voucher tax credits / Public Financing
Caroline Frederickson, president of the American Constitution Society, moderated a plenary session on "Writing the 28th Amendment: Every American Can Help."  Participating were Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law; Greg Moore, executive director of the NAACP National Voter Fund; Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center; Ellen Greene Bush, a member of American Promise's Port Clinton (OH) chapter; and Jeff Clements, president of American Promise.
A core criticism of the Citizens United decision it grants corporations rights to free speech that many believe are reserved for actual people, i.e. corporations are not people.  Winkler provided useful context in his remarks, noting that there is "a two hundred year history of corporations going to the U.S. Supreme Court and claiming rights."  Further he said that it is important to think about the question in a nuanced way.  There are different kinds of corporations and different kinds of rights.  Wydra stated, "The Supreme Court majority in Citizens United got it wrong."  She said that while some expected the Court might engage in a "clean up operation," that seemed unlikely and "we must look at the hard work of amending the Constitution."  Moore addressed the question of whether, in view of Supreme Court decisions in Shelby Co. v. Holder and Husted v. APRI, a 28th Amendment should include a right to vote.  Greene Bush, the activist from Ohio, gave personal testimony describing the "onslaught on Lake Erie by corporate forces outside our control."  She asked whether the rights of corporations supersede our rights.  Clements spoke to the promise that we are all created equal, emphasizing that, "Political equality is the core of the Constitution."

more information: American Promise

see also: Citizens Take Action
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