Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Huffman, Democratic Leaders Introduce the Democracy for All Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Decision

Jul 15, 2014
Press Release
Huffman: “It’s time to fix our broken electoral system.”

WASHINGTON­—Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) co-introduced the Democracy for All Amendment, which will reverse destructive Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC  that have given corporations and the wealthiest donors the right to leverage unlimited influence in our elections. Huffman joined nearly 100 other Democrats in introducing today’s amendment, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), U.S. Reps. John Larson (CT-1), Ted Deutch (FL-21), Donna Edwards (MD-4), and Jim McGovern (MA-2). The new constitutional amendment, H. J. Res. 119, is the House companion to a constitutional amendment slated for a historic vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate this year. 

Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions have corroded our system of democracy, allowing special interests to spend unlimited amounts of secret money to get their favored candidate elected. Until we fix the campaign finance system, our broader aspirations for policy reforms— including action on immigration reform, tax reform, climate change, gun violence, and any number of other issues that ordinary Americans care about—will face powerful political headwinds,” Huffman said. “The Democracy for All Amendment will reverse these disastrous Supreme Court decisions and restore Congress’ authority to pass laws protecting the integrity of our electoral process. It’s time to fix our broken electoral system.”

Background:

Since the 2010 Citizens United decision, Americans have witnessed an unprecedented explosion of big money in state and federal elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside spending tripled between 2008 and 2012, and 93 percent of the more than $600 million spent in 2012 by Super PACs came from about 3,300 donors, or 0.0011 percent of the American population. 

Beyond the outside spending invited by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, the decision also dramatically undermined the legitimacy of all campaign finance laws. In 2014, the Supreme Court invalidated aggregate limits on how much a single donor can spend per election cycle in McCutcheon v. FEC.  Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts went so far as to argue that the influence awarded to donors is not a corrupting quid pro quo transaction, but a First Amendment right, writing “Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder's official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner 'influence over or access to' elected officials or political parties."

The Democracy for All Amendment is the product of months of collaboration between the House and Senate sponsors of earlier constitutional amendment proposals, constitutional scholars, and grassroots advocacy organizations committed to restoring the integrity of the American electoral process. In addition to overturning recent rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Democracy is for All Amendment also reverses the Supreme Court’s controversial holding in Buckley v. Valeo that spending money in elections is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Download a copy of the amendment here: http://go.usa.gov/Xzqk

Section I.  To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section II.  Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section III.  Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

In addition to Rep. Huffman, the amendment was cosponsored by Reps. (99): Deutch, Edwards, McGovern, Pelosi, Larson, Becerra, Conyers, Rangel, George Miller, Kaptur, DeFazio, Lewis, Slaughter, Pallone, Engel, McDermott, Serrano, Price, DeLauro, Norton, Waters, Timothy Bishop, Eshoo, Gene Green, Hastings (FL), Farr, Doggett, Doyle, Fattah, Jackson Lee, Lofgren, Blumenauer, Pascrell, Sherman, Meeks, Lee, Robert Brady, Capuano, Crowley, Holt, Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Clay, Susan A. Davis, Honda, Israel, Langevin, Larsen, Schiff, Grijalva, Ruppersberger, Tim Ryan, Van Hollen, Butterfield, Moore, Wasserman Schultz, Matsui, Cohen, Joe Courtney, Ellison, Hank Johnson, Sarbanes, Welch, Yarmuth, Speier, Fudge, Nolan, Himes, Ben Ray Lujan, Schrader, Tonko, Quigley, Garamendi, Shea-Porter, Foster, Cicilline, Richmond, Sewell, Hahn, Bonamici, DelBene, Payne, Grayson, Titus, Beatty, Brownley, Bustos, Gabbard, Denny Heck, Kennedy, Kilmer, Kuster, Lowenthal, Lujan Grisham, O’Rourke, Pocan, Swalwell, Clark.