Texas Should Urge Congress to Ratify an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution Overturning Citizens United

Representative Rafael Anchia has a resolution to overturn Citizens United, HCR 34 that will be heard on Thursday, March 30th in the State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee (which convenes at 8:00 AM in committee hearing room E2.036 at the Texas Capitol in Austin, TX).

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that campaign contributions limits for “independent expenditures” of individuals, unions, and corporations were unconstitutional. In the decision, the majority argued that spending money in our political process is no different than voicing an opinion; it’s speech and it’s protected under the First Amendment.

Seven years later, the drastic consequences of this decision are still haunting our country. Eighteen states, Washington, D.C. and more than 700 municipalities have already called for a constitutional amendment to overturn this ruling that has proved so damaging to our democracy.

Currently, the political system rewards politicians who court a handful of major donors and punishes candidates who rely on small donations from a broad base of ordinary citizens. The result? Local, state and national public policies correlate less and less with public sentiment. Our nation was founded to be “of the people, by the people” and “for the people,” and Americans across the political spectrum agree that big donors have too much power over our government. A national poll found that 80 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Democrats support overturning Citizens United. There are few other issues that unite us in this way.

We commend the state of Texas for its ban on direct corporate contributions to political candidates. However, it’s not enough. Citizens United allows for corporations and unions to sidestep this regulation by contributing to super PACs without limit and anonymously. In Texas, political spending by entities that do not disclose the identities of contributors reached over $900,000 in the 2014 election cycle. More than $10 million was spent by outside spenders on Texas federal races in 2016.

This ruling weakens states’ rights by opening the doors for deep-pocketed outside interests to disproportionately dominate local elections. This is not normal, nor is it okay.

The Court’s decision rolled back nearly a century of laws – federal and state – passed by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who, regardless of political affiliation, agreed that reasonable restrictions can and should be placed on campaign spending by powerful special interests to protect our democracy. Citizens United itself struck down key parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), known as the McCain-Feingold Act. BCRA was introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The founding fathers spoke to the importance of a person’s political influence being the same, regardless of economic bracket. To quote James Madison in the Federalist Papers:

“Who are to be the electors of the federal representatives? Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscure and unpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States.”

Our current system runs contrary to Madison’s vision. Our current system runs contrary to the will of the majority of Americans. Our current system caters to the needs of billionaires over the general population, to corporations over small businesses and to the political greed of a minority over the common sense of the majority. The Citizen United ruling is central to these wrongs, and Texas should join independent thinking states throughout the nation in calling for the return of our democracy to the people.

Contact the committee members and tell them you support HCR 34 and think they should vote it out of committee so the Texas Legislature can vote on this resolution.

Representative District Email Phone  (512)
Andrew Murr (R) 53 [email protected] 463-0536
Chris Paddie (R) 9 [email protected] 463-0556
Chris Turner (D) 101 [email protected] 463-0574
Drew Darby (R) 72 [email protected] 463-0331
Eric Johnson (D) 100 [email protected] 463-0586
Ken King (R) 88 [email protected] 463-0736
Larry Gonzales (R) 52 [email protected] 463-0670
Rafael Anchia (D) 103 [email protected] 463-0746
Senfronia Thompson (D) 141 [email protected] 463-0720