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Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces ‘Saving American Democracy’ Constitutional Amendment to Ban Corporate Personhood, Overturn ‘Citizens United’ Ruling

Would that there were more Bernie Sanderses in Congress.

The independent senator from Vermont has introduced a constitutional amendment that would ban corporate personhood and overturn the odious Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that corporations are people, endowed with the same First Amendment rights as you and I, and that money is free speech. Citizens United, which Sanders described as “one of the worst” decisions in U.S. history, allows corporations to spend as much money as they please on influencing the outcome of American elections.

“Make no mistake,” Sanders wrote in the Huffington Post, “the Citizens United ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy. It has further tilted the balance of the power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when the wealthiest people in this country already never had it so good… If we do not reverse this decision, there will be no end to the impact that corporate interests can have on our campaigns and our democracy.”

“Our democracy is in grave danger,” he wrote.

The ruling has opened the floodgates of corporate campaign spending. Politico, for example, reports that the billionaire Koch brothers, who have generously funded far-right causes including Tea Party-linked organizations, plan to spend  at least $200 million influencing next year’s elections. GOP mastermind Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush’s electoral success, and his associates plan to raise another $240 million.

“Does anybody really believe that that is what American democracy is supposed to be about?” Sanders asked.

Sanders’ measure, the Saving American Democracy Amendment, states that corporations are not people and are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as flesh and blood human beings. It also prohibits corporate campaign contributions and empowers Congress and the states to regulate election spending.

Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL) has introduced a similar amendment in the House of Representatives.

Sanders, a self-described socialist (the only one in the Senate), spoke passionately about Citizens United, which he calls “basically insane,” and his amendment.

“There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by a constitutional amendment,” he said.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have introduced such amendments. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) did so last month.

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3 Comments

  1. Pamela SundeenDecember 9, 2011 at 1:15 pmReply

    Please keep fighting to get that amendant to stop Corps and billionaires from controling and buying our government. Also please check in to these voter supression laws that republicans have gotten passed in some states. Thanks, Pam

  2. Avid ReaderDecember 20, 2011 at 12:46 pmReply

    This is how and why no one from Wall Street was prosecuted or went to jail for the collapse of the economy.

    More people need to be outraged because of the Citizens United ruling.

    • Brett WilkinsDecember 20, 2011 at 4:10 pmReplyAuthor

      The most odious Supreme Court ruling of my lifetime.

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