The massive influx of money into our political system, made possible by rulings like the one in Citizens United v. FEC, has created an unprecedented crisis in our democracy.
In the years following the decision, we have seen an explosion of outside spending during election cycles, as well as a glut of spending by tax-exempt “dark money” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors. 1
The conflation of money with free speech has created a political environment wherein only those with money can speak. In the 2014 election cycle, just 50 individuals and their spouses accounted for more than a third of the total money raised by Super PACs.2 An unconscionable 84% of donations in the 2014 cycle came from large donors.3 Special interests and wealthy donors have gained wildly disproportionate power over lawmakers at every level, and the entire nation is suffering as a result.
Today, a majority of Americans agree that money has become a corrupting influence over our political process; a 2014 CBS study found that a full 75% of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, believe that the wealthy have a better chance than others of influencing the election process.4. 16 states – 30% of the country – have called on Congress to overturn Citizens United through ballot initiatives, resolutions or other measures.
The will of the people is clear. The time to act is now. James Madison once said that the constitution should only be amended in ‘great and extraordinary occasions.” This is one of those occasions.