Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) condemned the influence of money on American politics on Saturday, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision.
“An activist Supreme Court, misusing its authority by legislating policy from the bench, ignored decades of legal precedent when it ruled in 2010 that corporations have the same constitutional right of free speech as people,” he said in a statement.
The Supreme Court held that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people, overturning campaign finance laws that restricted the amount of money a corporation could spend in an election.
“In doing so, the Court opened the floodgates for unlimited, unregulated and undisclosed secret corporate spending to influence the outcome of elections – local, state and federal – throughout America,” Johnson said. “Citizens United also enabled the use of foreign corporate money for the same purpose. The effect of this devastating decision has been to enable corporate money to dictate public policy so that it favors wealthy business interests, and millionaires and billionaires, over the interests of working people.”
Johnson has co-sponsored the OCCUPIED Amendment, one of several proposed constitutional amendments aimed at overturning the Citizens United ruling.
The proposed amendment was introduced to the House by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in November, two months after the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration began in New York City. If passed, it would establish that constitutionally protected rights are those of natural persons and not corporations, and grant Congress the authority to regulate all election contributions and expenditures.
“Powerful special interests and their lobbyists should not be able to drown out the voices of the American people and sell our Democracy to the highest bidder.”