Greg Kesich’s Nov. 22 column (“2020 shows damage done by too much money in politics”) accurately identifies the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision as having provided the green light for the runaway spending that plagues our elections today.
However, as Kesich notes, democracy reform legislation such as HR 1 cannot itself overturn Citizens United. And as long as Citizens United stands, American jurisprudence will continue to hold that money spent to influence elections is equivalent to free speech, and that artificial entities like political action committees are entitled to the same constitutional rights as humans.
These two legal fictions represent judicial activism that lacks either originalist or contemporary legitimacy: The Founding Fathers included no language to this effect when drafting the Constitution, and neither of these premises enjoys popular support today.
A Supreme Court decision, no matter how illogical or unjust, can only be permanently overturned by constitutional amendment.
The We the People Amendment, which has been introduced as HJ Res 48 in the U.S. House of Representatives and has more than 70 co-sponsors, would amend the Constitution to explicitly negate both of the legal fictions underpinning Citizens United. Rep. Chellie Pingree has already co-sponsored this critical democracy reform and deserves our gratitude; Rep. Jared Golden has yet to do so.
Readers who share Kesich’s desire to end the corrupting influence of money in our elections should contact Rep. Golden, as well as Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and ask them to co-sponsor HJ Res. 48.