Sharon SandersMove to Amend Greater ChicagoGREAT NEWS!! BECAUSE OF HARD WORK BY INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS AND GREAT ORGANIZATIONS IN OUR COALITION AND THE WORK OF SOME WONDERFUL LEGISLATORS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE (See names below), TODAY, MAY 31ST, 3013, OUR RESOLUTION ASKING CONGRESS TO OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED AND WORK FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, PASSED THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE.
Bipartisan Vote by General Assembly Calls on Congress to Overturn Citizens United
Senate Joint Resolution 27 passes, supported by 74% of Illinois voters
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Today, with bipartisan support, Illinois became the 14th state to call for a national constitutional amendment ending the influence of big money and SuperPACs in elections.
The General Assembly’s overwhelming vote, led by State Senators Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin), and Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), and State Representatives Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Fox Lake), sent a strong message to Washington, and built on the national momentum to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s unpopular decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court overturned a century of campaign finance law when it ruled that corporations, unions, and extremely wealthy individuals have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat candidates. The decision unleashed record spending in the 2010 and 2012 elections by outside groups and super PACs.
Advocates say that big money in elections makes public officials accountable to donors instead of voters, leading to irresponsible laws related to tax loopholes, public pensions, and energy policy, to name a few.
In the resolution, the legislators “respectfully but emphatically disagree with the … decisions of the United States Supreme Court and call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, SpeechNow.org v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo and other related cases that allow for unlimited election spending.” The measure was on ballots across Illinois in November, and was supported by 74% of voters.
The Constitutional amendment would call for a level playing field in election spending. It states that money is not the same thing as free speech, and that only natural persons are entitled to the First Amendment rights given by the nation’s founding fathers, which were not given to artificial entities, such as corporations and unions.
The Illinois Coalition to Overturn Citizens United is led by Common Cause Illinois, Illinois PIRG, Public Citizen, MoveOn, Move to Amend and a number of other Illinois groups.
Key quotes from Illinois lawmakers on a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling:
“I have reached the conclusion that a constitutional amendment is necessary,” U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) said. “It is an uphill battle. It may take years.”
Call Senator Durbin: (312) 353-4952 or (202) 224-2152
"Most Illinoisans intuitively understand that when it comes to free speech, corporations and individuals aren't created equal," chief sponsor Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. "But our hands are tied by a Supreme Court decision that severely limits our ability as lawmakers to take on a culture of corruption that saps our state's democratic energies." Call Senator Steans: 217-782-8492 or (773) 769-1717
"Last November, 74 percent of Kane County voters supported reversing the Citizens United ruling," Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin) said. "Today I'm proud to stand in agreement with my constituents. We need to tilt the balance of power back toward the people by limiting the overwhelming influence of corporate entities."
Call Senator McConnaughay: (217) 782-1977 or (847) 214-8245
"I do not believe the current system is working in the best interest of the voters," Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) said. "Our electoral process is lacking in transparency and accountability at every level of government. The federal courts shouldn't constrain state action on campaign financing at precisely the moment when we need so desperately to put our own house in order."
Call Senator Althoff: (217) 782-8000 or (815) 455-6330
"Self-government is not only a right but a responsibility, and we're responsible for maintaining a system that encourages more citizens to participate rather than concentrating power in the hands of the few and the wealthy," Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said. "Turnout in municipal and off-year elections is already abysmal; people perceive the power of a single vote pales in comparison to the tremendous influence of corporate dollars."