Bennet, Udall, Shaheen, Senate Democratic Caucus Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Democracy for All Amendment Would Help Get Big Money Out of Politics and Put Power Back in the Hands of the American People

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), 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 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.

“The Supreme Court fundamentally misapprehended the nature of money in politics, and its decision has unleashed a corruption of inaction in Washington, where elected officials fear that action on issues like gun violence or climate change will lead a super PAC to spend $20 million and end their career,” said Bennet. “We need the Democracy for All Amendment to turn the page on Citizens United and reconnect the American people with our government.” 

“Thanks to Citizens United and other disastrous court decisions, our electoral system – and as a result, our democracy – have reached a crisis point,” said 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 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 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 U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL).

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.  

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. Statements of support are available HERE.