President Provides Support for Constitutional Amendment Effort to Overturn 'Citizens United'

August 31, 2012

By Jeremy Leaming

The effort to trump the Supreme Court’s disastrous corporate elections spending case, Citizens United v. FEC, received a presidential stamp of approval this week, but because of the media’s heightened coverage of a political convention in Florida, it went largely undetected.

But while politicos gathered in Tampa to do what they inevitably do, provide a boring, predictable show, President Obama in a Reddit conversation said a constitutional amendment might be the only way to go about staunching or at least curbing corporate America’s increasingly disconcerting grip on elections for public office.

A bit of hyperbole above, because some press did notice Obama’s comments made during the Reddit discussion. As Politico reported, the president said, “Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it.). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-Pac phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”

Politico noted that Citizens United greatly weakened federal regulation of corporate spending on elections, thereby allowing business interests to become even more involved in controlling political outcomes and influencing political parties.

The president added that the amount of corporate dollars flowing into today’s elections is threatening to “overwhelm the political process,” and said Congress must work to pass measures calling for greater disclosure of corporate contributions to campaigns and limiting lobbyists’ ability to funnel even larger amounts of contributions into elections.

Free Speech For People, a group founded to promote a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, in a blog post on its website, noted Obama’s action, saying the opinion has “opened the door for big-money anonymous contributors to dominate politics ….”

Jeffrey D. Clements, co-founder and president of Free Speech For People, authored an ACS Issue Brief detailing the dangers the Citizens United decision poses to the democratic process. Clements is also author of the book, Corporations Are Not People, a look at the trajectory of corporate dollars in politics and a plan for fighting the process.

[image via White House Photo Gallaries]