Los Angeles voters back amendment to overturn Citizens United

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) -- Add Los Angeles to the growing list of cities and states calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted campaign spending by corporations.


The nation's second largest city on Tuesday endorsed a national drive for an amendment overturning the court's Citizens United decision.


The nation's high court held in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited because of the First Amendment.


The court's ruling in favor of Citizens United stemmed from a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation could air a film critical of current U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


Proposition C, backed by a coalition of public interest groups led by Common Cause, instructs elected officials and legislators who represent Los Angeles in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to support an amendment that would again permit common sense limits on corporate political spending.


It received nearly 77 percent of the vote in the municipal election.


"The voters have spoken loud and clear that they want big money out of our elections," Derek Cressman, director of Common Cause's "Only People Are People" campaign, said in a statement Wednesday.


"Now it's up to the Los Angeles congressional delegation to heed the call from their constituents."



Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause's senior vice president for strategy and programs, called Tuesday's vote a "tremendous victory."


"We're determined to press for similar voter initiatives and legislative endorsements across the nation, building on the tremendous support for an amendment we saw last November in Montana and Colorado, and through votes in more than 400 localities including San Francisco, Chicago and Boston," she said in a statement.


Common Cause describes itself as a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to "restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard."


Thirteen state legislatures have passed resolutions or sent letters to Congress calling for an amendment to overturn the decision, West Virginia and Maine being the most recent.


The other states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont, as has Washington, D.C.


And Illinois is one step closer to becoming the 14th state.


Last week, the state Senate voted 37-9 in favor of a joint resolution calling for a similar constitutional amendment. The measure currently is before the House of Representatives.


In addition, nearly 500 local municipalities across the country have called for such an amendment.


"The people are speaking here -- at the ballot box and through their elected representatives," Hobert Flynn said.


"The overwhelming majorities supporting an amendment in every jurisdiction where it has come to a vote should send a powerful signal to Washington and every state capitol."


From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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