Chairman Crowley Joins House Colleagues in Reintroducing Democracy for All Amendment

Feb 3, 2017 Issues: Economy and Jobs

Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Decision Would Limit Political Influence from Special Interests

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, announced that he has co-sponsored the reintroduction of the Democracy for All Amendment, which would reverse destructive Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC, that have given corporations and the wealthiest donors the right to buy unlimited influence in our elections. Crowley joins Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-22), James P. McGovern (MA-04), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08), in reintroducing the amendment.

“Reversing Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, will help restore and protect the integrity of our electoral process - one of the pillars of our nation’s democracy,” said Rep. Crowley. “The voices of corporations, special interest groups and the wealthy should not drown out the voices of everyday Americans. It’s high time we get money out of politics and I’m proud to once again join my colleagues in support of the Democracy for All Amendment which will advance the basic principle of one voice, one vote that is so integral to our democracy.”

Since the 2010 Citizens United decision, Americans have witnessed an unprecedented explosion of big money in state and federal elections. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that each of the presidential election cycles since broke spending records coming in at $6.3 billion in 2012 and $6.9 billion in 2016. Election spending tripled between 2008 and 2012, and 93 percent of the more than $600 million spent in 2012 by Super PACs came from about 3,300 donors, or .0011 percent of the American population. 

Beyond the explosion of outside spending invited by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, this decision also dramatically undermined the legitimacy of all campaign finance laws. In his far-reaching opinion for the 5-4 majority, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy held that any election law that goes beyond preventing quid pro quo, bribery-style corruption between candidates and donors risks violating the First Amendment. Unfortunately, in 2014 the Supreme Court only further embraced this narrow understanding of corruption in McCutcheon v. FEC when it invalidated aggregate limits on how much a single donor could spend per election cycle. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts even went so far as to argue that the influence awarded to donors is not a corrupting quid pro quo transaction, but a First Amendment right.

The Democracy for All Amendment was developed in a collaborative effort with House co-sponsors, Senate sponsors Senators Tom Udall (NM) and Michael Bennet (CO), constitutional scholars, and grassroots advocacy organizations committed to restoring the integrity of our electoral process.  In addition to overturning recent rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Democracy for All Amendment also reverses the Supreme Court’s controversial holding in Buckley v. Valeo that spending money in elections is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

For more information on the amendment, click here.