Carper, Coons Join Colleagues in Introducing Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing the Democracy for All Amendment – a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and other disastrous court decisions, help get big money out of politics, and put power back in the hands of the American people. 

Citizens United and other disastrous Supreme Court decisions have unleashed a flood of unlimited corporate spending in U.S. elections and opened the door for wealthy special interests to have an outsized voice in our government. These decisions have wrongfully equated money with free speech, and wrongfully determined that big, wealthy corporations have the same first amendment rights as people. The Democracy for All Amendment gives the power back to Congress and the states to set reasonable campaign finance rules and limit corporate spending in elections. The amendment would enshrine in the Constitution the right of the American people to regulate the raising and spending of funds in public elections, and curb the concentration of political influence held by the wealthiest Americans.  

“Every American deserves to have an equal voice at the ballot box, regardless of the size of their bank account,” said Senator Carper. “Every American also deserves to know who is funding the campaigns of candidates seeking elected office. Nine years ago, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision upended decades’ worth of campaign  finance laws, allowing a few wealthy individuals to wield disproportionate influence over the electoral process in secret. Americans of all political affiliations want more transparency when it comes to our elections – not less. That’s why I’m proud to join Senators Udall and Shaheen, and all of my Senate Democratic colleagues, in introducing a straightforward constitutional amendment that will restore the health and integrity of our campaign finance system.”        

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United to eliminate aggregate limits on the amount of money an individual can give to a political campaign is potentially one of the most damaging I have seen since joining the Senate.  The decision allows the wealthiest Americans and the corporations they represent to have even greater influence in our democracy.  One step at a time, the Supreme Court has dismantled our efforts in Congress to limit the influence of money in the political process.  This amendment would bring much needed transparency back to our campaign finance laws and give all Americans an equal voice in our elections.  I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues in introducing this important, commonsense amendment to restore integrity to our electoral process,” said Senator Coons.

In the 2014 election cycle alone, a record-breaking amount—nearly $4 billion—was spent on campaigns across the country. It’s another reminder that Congress needs to take immediate action to restore some sanity to our broken campaign finance system. Today, I’m once again proud to join the efforts being led by my friends and colleagues, Senators Tom Udall and Sheldon Whitehouse, to shine much-needed light on political spending and to restore the long-understood ability of Congress to enact common sense campaign finance legislation.”

“Thanks to Citizens United and other disastrous court decisions, our electoral system – and as a result, our democracy – have reached a crisis point,” said Senator Udall. “Ever since the Supreme Court ruled to open the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending in our elections, secret special interest money has poured in – and drowned out the voices of the American people. And the door has opened even wider for the ultra-wealthy and well-connected to root themselves in our government and pull the levers of our democracy. Now, citizens are losing faith in our institutions because they have every reason to believe that their government no longer answers to them. It’s time to restore the power of the American people to regulate the out-of-control, secret spending in our elections, and make sure that our elections aren’t put up for sale to the highest bidder. Our Democracy for All Amendment would help unrig the system and put power back in the hands of all Americans, instead of a privileged and powerful few.”

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, our political system has been flooded with money from special interest groups,” said Senator Shaheen. “We have also seen the growing influence of dark money pouring into our elections. Dark money allows secret groups with hidden agendas, even foreign actors, to influence elections without disclosing their political donations. We need only look to the 2016 presidential election to understand the lengths that foreign adversaries are willing to go to attempt to influence our elections and sow confusion in the electoral process. This legislation would help shore up our elections from these malign efforts and also reclaim the integrity of our political process by ensuring elected representatives reflect the will of the public, not special interests.” 

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates for dark money to pour into our elections and tipped the scales in favor of the ultra-wealthy and the most powerful corporations,” said Leader Schumer. “The Democracy for All Amendment would undo the tremendous damage done by this decision. It is the best antidote to the surge of unlimited, undisclosed money that’s poisoned our politics and deepened the swamp. Senate Democrats are determined to fix a system that remains beholden to big corporations and put power back in the hands of hardworking Americans.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). In addition to Udall, Shaheen, and Schumer, the Democracy for All Amendment is co-sponsored by the entire Senate Democratic Caucus: U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz).

The Democracy for All Amendment is backed by a broad range of campaign finance and government reform advocates, including End Citizens United, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, American Promise, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

The full text of the amendment is available here. A background summary is available here, and a section-by-section with FAQs is available here.