The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights today weighed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Saving American Democracy Amendment states that corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people, corporations are subject to regulation by the people, corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures, and Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.
Sanders revealed that at least 23 billionaire families have contributed a minimum of $250,000 each so far in this year’s campaigns. “My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well,” the senator said in his appearance before the committee.
He argued that the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, and that the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame is worth $89 billion, more than the bottom 40 percent of America. Sanders’ office released his rich list.
“What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government,'” Sanders said.
“That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about – and that’s why it must be overturned,” he added.
A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).
Senate Democrats failed to move forward the DISCLOSE Act last week to address Citizens United.