McGovern Amendments Would Overturn Citizens United Case

  • Comments (23)

WORCESTER, Mass. – U.S. Rep. James McGovern introduced two Constitutional amendments on Tuesday to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which prohibited government restrictions on corporate and union contributions.

"The American people are deeply troubled by the growing influence of corporations in our political discourse,” said McGovern, who represents the 2nd Worcester District. “They are also demanding action on campaign finance reform – because they are repulsed by the large amount of money in our campaigns. And, quite frankly, they want elected officials to spend more time on policy, on debating and deliberating on issues – and less time dialing for dollars."

The first amendment, HJ Res 20, empowers Congress and states to regulate political spending.  It will allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand Constitutional challenges. 

The second amendment, HJ Res 21, would overturn Citizens United and put a stop to what McGovern termed a growing trend of corporations claiming first amendment rights. This “People’s Rights Amendment” not only addresses corporate rights as they pertain to campaign finance, but also clarifies corporations are not people with Constitutional rights.

“We need to have a serious, thoughtful debate in this country about this important issue,” McGovern said.  “I hope that my amendments will begin to spur that debate.”

Watch McGovern's testimony in the video above.

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Comments (23)

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

@WBM and I quote Mr. McGovern "The American people are deeply troubled by the growing influence of corporations in our political discourse,” said McGovern,

Where does he say anything about big UNIONS, I see nothing in that statement about unions. Why is that? Is he afraid of alienating his campaign contribution base. I know what is included WBM, what I am afraid of is what they will come up with after amending the Constitution. As McGovern stated in his own words,

HJ Res 20 as proposed by McGovern,

"The first amendment, HJ Res 20, empowers Congress and states to regulate political spending. It will allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand Constitutional challenges.

As I said before allowing them to regulate political spending is like turning a chocoholic loose in a Neuhaus chocolate factory.

HJ Res 21 Overturn Citizens United, a noble gesture, however as McGovern states,
"put a stop to what McGovern termed a growing trend of corporations claiming first amendment rights. This “People’s Rights Amendment” not only addresses corporate rights as they pertain to campaign finance, but also clarifies corporations are not people with Constitutional rights.
He says "corporations are not people" and absolutely nothing about big unions. What is his agenda, why is he afraid to mention unions? Untrustworthy in my mind.

Again WBM as you stated the law includes both corporations and unions. McGovern's statements avoid mentioning Unions anywhere, my concern is by not mentioning Unions in any of his statements, what type of regulations has he in mind if in fact this dream of his ever comes to fruition. Will the proposed campaign legislation exempt Union contributions. I have no way of knowing what goes on in politicians minds and I don't want to find out after the fact. They promise one thing and do something completely different.

WBM:

So would you prefer that we do nothing? Are you against McGovern's proposed amendment?

Right now, by way of of the Citizens United decision, there can be NO regulation of campaign finance. Unions can spend as much as they want and there isn't a damn thing any of us can do about it.

As I've said, lets get rid of Citizens United first because until we do, all of this concern over McGovern's position in regards to Unions or Corporations is just wasted time becuase NEITHER can be regulated and we the people remain powerless.

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

I agree wholeheartedly with your argument of replacing the way campaigns are funded. However I am extremely apprehensive about what these so called representatives will come up, that is both sides of the aisle. Mr. McGovern is no different than the other 534 so called "representatives of the American people". They all self serving bureaucrats that love the power, limelight and most of all the Federal Governments lucrative benefits on retiring. Deep down I don't believe the Founders of the Constitution had any idea that future politicians would make this a career, if they did it was a real lapse in judgement on their part. The power and status is addicting to them, just like an alcoholic, it is difficult to give up that position of power and status and unfortunately the ones that pay for it is the American citizen.

Chris L.:

I'd like to see individuals get back their power of representation without being drowned out by corporate lobbyists and promises made to unions.

Is it fair to pit the individual against a whole union or corporation? Should a big employer in a congressional district get more pull than 1 individual? Theoretically, the corporation represents a broader interest... but these individuals should already be represented through their elected official.

Many elected officials forget that they are there to represent all their constituents interest...not just their monetary backers or own personal interests.

So maybe we need to say a whole corporation can contribute $1000 and an individual or union can contribute up to the same $1000. If the individuals within the organizition want to contribute their personal limit to the same place, it's up to them. Perhaps even put a similar limit on political party contributions.

The current system just ensures that skilled money-raisers can make it to office rather than skilled public servants. Any con-man can raise $$$ by making promises, but how well do they represent or govern?

Harpoon1212:

Why don't they add all the foriegn contributions that came into the recent Presidential and our own senatorial race. They cannot even trace where these contributions came from. At least we know the motives of our corporations. What are the motives of these foriegn donors.

http://www.humanevents.com/2012/10/08/obama-campaign-part-of-foreign-campaign-donation-scandal/

WBM:

Harpoon - Read the resolution. Read up on Citizens United. It is non discriminatory, it speaks to allowing controls on contributions and expenditures. It doesn't say just corporations, or just unions, it doesn't specify any source - it allows Congress to control contributions from all sources, including foreign sources.

Harpoon1212:

I would like to see some reform in this area but the devil is always in the details. You can read the resolution one day and it changes the next. Thanks for the info.

GrayGhost:

WHM - Read My Lips... is exactly right. Maybe you should read McGovern's resolution at
http://mcgovern.house.gov/uploads/Campaign%20Finance%20Amendment%20Text.pdf

It only deals with corporate entities. Nowhere does it mention anything about curbing unions and their efforts to financially control our elections. It's very naive to think that one of the leading progressive socialists in the Congress would propose anything that could possibly curtail the power of the unions.

Mr. McGovern is the real threat to our Constitution and the Republic. Thankfully, his resolutions won't get very far. He should return to his true calling, working in a package store!

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

As I said in my most recent post, a noble gesture on the surface but you just never know what is on their minds, say one thing and do something completely different. Nowhere in McGovern's statements does he mention anything about unions, nowhere. There is a reason for that, I don't what goes on in his mind, but his political stance on many issues tends to make me think, that in someway the politicians would find an end around to exempt unions. "Companies are not people", Mr. McGovern, Unions are not People either, you should be more inclusive in your statements and stop showing your bias towards corporate America.

GrayGhost point about McGovern's proposed amendment curtailing the power of unions is right on, he wouldn't pure and simple. He is a politician, he knows what to say to get his way, then make a complete reversal and go in the opposite direction..

WBM:

GrayGhost - Where exactly in http://mcgovern.house.gov/uploads/Campaign%20Finance%20Amendment%20Text.pdf does it mention corporate entities? (It doesn't)

Look - the first step is to get rid of Citizens United. I'm not going to get in an argument over McGovern's politics or what laws he might to try to pass should his amendment pass - we can argue over that when the time comes. Anyone who is not an extremist (either left or right) should be thrilled at the prospect of getting rid of Citizen's United. I don't care who puts forth the resolution - I'm just happy someone is trying to get rid of it.

Liberal:

I support Congressman McGovern. Corporations are NOT people, pigs maybe, but not people. Oh and Sandiegogal, of course it was just an oversight for you to not mention the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson, you know the conservative Republican donors who’s contributions dwarf Buffet and Oprah’s.

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

Liberal how about George Soros. A major Democratic contributor. "Soros may be the biggest political fat cat of all time. Convicted in France of insider trading, Soros specializes in weakening or collapsing the currencies of entire nations for his own selfish interests. He is known as the man who broke the Bank of England. A criminal in anyway you look at him.. There are PIGS on both sides of the aisle. Unions are not people, Big Pigs maybe.

Sandiegogal:

I doubt the Koch brothers have more than Oprah but I think they should be limited too.

Harpoon1212:

Liberal, The "pigs" you talk about employ our people and fund our government to pay for the programs that our Congressman thinks up in his dreams. They fund investments like Evergreen Solar and Solyndra with their tax money. Once the corporations get driven out, there will be no more country. You guys should be a happy with the power that you have because if you swing the pendulum to far, it will come back to bite you.

John B:

The current Muslin, Algerian born so-called President, is destroying the free markets through Communist Shariah law.

Luckily he is so bad at his job the stock market hit a 5 year high.

Too bad MBA free marketer Bush did not achieve that.

Corporations are doing just fine.

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

Do you seriously believe that the President's economic agenda of more spending and more taxes are moving the markets upward trend. Personally I think it is another Bubble (Tech, Housing) with the potential to burst and this time it might be a much more difficult to dig ourselves out of. With all the unfunded liabilities of the Federal, State and Local Governments, we are digging ourselves a deeper hole than we ever had in the past.

Read My Lips No New Taxes:

Mr McGovern how about big UNION payoffs to the Washington politicians. I see nothing about that in your proposed amendment. Giving the power to congress and the states to regulate campaign spending is like giving a chocoholic a free pass in a Neuhaus chocolate store. The ruling party at the time would determine who and how much could be spent, or contributed. Why no mention of the Richard Trumka's of the world. Spending union money on electing politicians that the rank and file might not support or endorse.

How about doing something meaningful like a Balanced Budget Amendment or even "Heaven Forbid" a Term Limits Amendment.

Mr. McGovern you state "And, quite frankly, they want elected officials to spend more time on policy, on debating and deliberating on issues – and less time dialing for dollars." Why don't you take your own advice, instead of getting yourself arrested for protesting with Hollywood elites. Your job is not foreign policy, it is to represent the 2nd Congressional District. How is that making policy, debating issues.

Lastly do you seriously believe that you can get a 2/3 majority vote in both congressional bodies to move this to the states for ratification by 3/4 (38 states). Simply delusional thinking on your part.

John B:

Still waiting for the GOP to submit a balanced budget.

That is a simple majority vote, in the House of Representatives which is controlled by the GOP.

John B:

A term limit in my book is called an election.

WBM:

To "Read My Lips..." - Perhaps you should "Read Citizens United". The decision gave equal rights to both corporations and unions. Anything that repeals Citizens United would affect both the left and the right, equally.

Term Limits would be nice, I would support that 100%. But the first step has to be finance reform, and if we can restrict the flow of money into the process, then we might find terms to be more self limiting.

A Balanced Budget would be nice too, but there are special interests that benefit from not having a balanced budget. Those special interests can flood the process with money to prevent balanced budgets or an amendment from happening. Get Citizens United corrected, get the money out of the system and then we might have a fighting chance of fixing our fiscal problems in a manner that benefits the population and not just the special interests/corporations/unions.

I don't know if he can get the 2/3 needed or if we could ever get another amendment passed by the states. That in itself is testimony to just how broken our system is. BUT, I am not willing to give up on it yet, and I applaud any national politician for trying.

WHM:

Valiant effort, McGovern. Citizen's United is a roadblock to true representative government. Congress would work completely differently, and much better, without the influence of corporate and union money. Campaign finance reform simply has to happen.

Sandiegogal:

There should be a limit on campaign contributing for the super wealthy....the Buffets and Oprah's of America. They yield influence at
the $ 50,000 dinners.
Set a price for campaign spending for any office. President no more than 200 million...etc .

WBM:

I applaud Representative McGovern.

The flow of cash from big corporations and big special interests into the political process has taken the power away from the voters and shifted the power to those who supply the money.

No longer are the elected officials focused on pleasing their constituents in order to get votes - they are focused on pleasing their donors in order to insure they get more $$ during the next election cycle. Unfortunately, big donors seldom represent mainstream America, they susually represent either the far right or the far left, which explains the "digging your heals in" deadlock we see in Congress today.

I intend to let my Congressional Representatives know of my support (http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ to find contact information)

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