Ill. becomes 14th state to back amendment to overturn Citizens United ruling

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 3, 2013, 3:00pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline) -- The Illinois General Assembly last week backed a constitutional amendment to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted campaign spending by corporations.

Both the state Senate and House of Representatives adopted Senate Joint Resolution 27 Friday.

Illinois is now the 14th state to back such a constitutional amendment.

West Virginia and Maine most recently rejected the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Other states that have called for an amendment to overturn the decision include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont, as has Washington, D.C.

In addition, nearly 500 local municipalities have called for a constitutional amendment, including 13 cities in Illinois.

The nation's high court held in Citizens United 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.

SJR 27 is sponsored by state Sens. Heather Steans, a Democrat; Karen McConnaughay, a Republican; and Pamela Althoff, also a Republican.

The resolution states that the legislators "respectfully, but emphatically disagree with the... decisions of the United States Supreme Court and call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, Speech v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo and other related cases that allow for unlimited election spending."

Public Citizen, along with Common Cause Illinois, consumer group Illinois PIRG, MoveOn and Move to Amend, is leading the state's campaign to overturn Citizens United.

In a statement Friday, Public Citizen said the bipartisan effort in Illinois underscores what poll data have shown.

"People of all political stripes are deeply concerned about corporations having too much influence over our democratic process," the consumer group said.

"People nationwide have seen the effects of the Citizens United ruling during and since the 2012 election season, and they don't like it."

According to Public Citizen, more states are likely to back similar amendments in the coming weeks.

The group said Delaware, New Hampshire and Oregon all are considering actions calling for an amendment.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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