Citizens United

Citizens United

Four years ago today the Supreme Court gutted campaign finance laws and lifted limits on corporate campaign cash. On Jan. 21, 2010, Sen. Bernie Sanders predicted that the ruling would “give control of the political process in the United States to the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in the world and the candidates who support their agenda. Instead of democracy being about one-person one-vote, it will now be about the size of a company’s bank account.”

The 5-to-4 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission  led to rulings that let wealthy individuals like the billionaires Charles and David Koch pour unlimited and unregulated sums into campaign coffers.

Sanders has offered a constitutional amendment that would undo the decision. Vermont, 15 other states and some 500 local governments have passed resolutions denouncing the Citizens United ruling.

But the issue is before the court again this term. A ruling is expected by June in McCutcheon vs. FEC, a case that could make matters even worse. Sanders sat in on the oral arguments last Oct. 8. “Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government,” Sanders told a rally outside the court afterward.

Sanders also hosted a forum last fall with People for the American Way President Michael Keegan, Public Citizen President Rob Weissman, The Nation’s John Nichols and Tia Lessen, the documentary filmmaker whose “Citizen Koch” exposed how vast fortunes have been tapped to influence American elections.

To watch the forum, click here.

To watch the senator at the Supreme Court, click here.

To read Sanders’ constitutional amendment, click here.

For a fact sheet on the amendment, click here.