Ellison proposes Citizens United-inspired constitutional amendment

WASHINGTON – As protesters affiliated with the Occupy movement flooded Capitol Hill today to express their discontent with what they describe as a Congress controlled by corporations, DFL Rep. Keith Ellison introduced a constitutional amendment to regulate how political campaigns are financed.

Called the “Get Corporate Money Out of Politics” amendment, the measure would overturn the 2009 Citizens United Supreme Court decision by declaring that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals and would give Congress and the states the power to regulate how companies get involved in politics.

Democrats, particularly liberals such as Ellison, argue that the Citizens United decision allows free-spending corporations to drown out the voices of those with smaller wallets during heated elections. Republicans, who often draw on support from the business community, view Citizens United as a way of leveling the playing field between the two parties, arguing that labor unions are able to spend heavily on get out the vote operations prior to elections.

Ellison’s proposed amendment faces an uphill battle as the measure is unlikely to get a vote – let alone the necessary two-thirds majority required for constitutional amendments – in both chambers of Congress as well as ratification by three quarters of the states. The last successful amendment to the Constitution was in 1992, when the 27th Amendment was ratified. That amendment, first proposed in 1789, prohibits Congress from giving itself pay raises until its next session.

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