Let’s Pass A Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Photo by donkeyhotey / creative commons

This week, President Trump and congressional Republicans unveiled a “tax reform” proposal that finances a massive tax cut for multinational corporations, Wall Street, and the very wealthiest Americans by gutting Medicaid, Medicare, and the social safety net.

Trump’s regressive tax policies would further exacerbate inequality and expand the ever-widening gap between the richest Americans and the rest of the population.

As the founders recognized, extreme concentration of wealth represents a profound threat to our democracy. The tax policies proposed by President Trump and Republicans in Congress threaten to further exacerbate this dangerous trend towards economic inequality.

How did we get to this point? One big problem is that misguided U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United have contributed to a campaign finance environment that gives corporations too much power in our elections — and ordinary citizens too little control over who represents them. Citizens United allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose political candidates, provided that the corporations do not coordinate directly with the candidates.

It’s time to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and secure equal voting and participation for all Americans.

Massachusetts can help lead the way in two ways.

First, Massachusetts voters should support the People Govern Not Money ballot initiative, which would create a non-partisan “Citizens Commission” to advance the policy of Massachusetts in favor of amending the Constitution of the United States.

Second, the Massachusetts legislature should pass the We the People Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Carmen Gentile. This sensible bill would call on Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would affirm that “(a) the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons, i.e. human individuals, only; and (b) Congress and the states shall place limits on political contributions and expenditures to ensure that all citizens have access to the political process, and the spending of money to influence elections is not protected free speech under the First Amendment.”

As a progressive candidate running for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, I fully support these efforts to pass a 28th Amendment.

It’s time to take our democracy back.

Quentin Palfrey is a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He previously served as Senior Advisor for Jobs & Competitiveness in President Obama’s White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and as Chief of the Health Care Division in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. More information about his campaign is available here: www.quentinpalfrey.com