Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders applauded towns in his state Vermont that called for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.
By Tuesday evening, 23 towns had called on Vermont legislators and the state’s congressional delegation to overturn the controversial ruling, which prohibited the government from placing limits on corporations’ independent political spending. As many as 60 towns are expected weigh in tonight.
“The people of Vermont have seen the huge campaign contributions being made by billionaires and large corporations because of Citizens United, and they understand how horrendous this is for the future of American democracy,” Sanders said. “Vermont is helping to lead the nation on this important issue. Real people across our state stood up today to protect our democracy. I am very proud of what they have done,” he added.
“Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Town Meeting Day voters understood that corporations are not people. The resounding results will send a strong message that corporations and billionaires should not be allowed to buy candidates and elections with unlimited, undisclosed spending on political campaigns,” Sanders said.
The Citizens United ruling gave rise to super PACS, officially known as independent-expenditure only committees, which can raise an unlimited amount of money to influence federal elections as long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.
Super PACs have quickly outpaced old-fashioned PACs, which can only accept annual donations of $5,000 or less and give a maximum of $5,000 per election to candidates, allowing campaign spending by outside groups to skyrocket. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.
Sanders proposed a constitutional amendment in December, the Saving American Democracy Amendment, which would state that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people. It would also ban corporate campaign donations to candidates, and give Congress and the states broad authority to regulate spending in elections.
He has previously described the Citizen United ruling as “basically insane.”
“Nobody that I know thinks that Exxon Mobil is a person,” Sanders said last year.