A Call for Six Constitutional Amendments -- No Joke!
CHICAGO - Since retiring from the bench in 2010, former Supreme Court Justice and Illinois native son John Paul Stevens has not been idle. His new book, out this month, has already caused a big stir in political and policy circles. It's called "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution."
Among other things, Stephens is advocating for campaign spending reform, after the 2010 "Citizens United" decision that declared corporations are people and opened the floodgates to big corporate political donations. Stevens wrote a scathing minority opinion in that five-to-four decision.
According to John Bonifaz, co-founder and executive director of the group "Free Speech for People," which supports campaign spending reform, Stevens did not participate in a watershed 1976 decision equating money with speech, but ...
"He has been very clear in his concurring and dissenting opinions since that time that the ruling was wrongly decided."
Stevens has written explicitly from the bench that money is property, not a form of speech.
Bonifaz said a bill has already been introduced with 29 Senate co-sponsors that would do what Stevens proposes: make clear that Congress or any state can impose reasonable limits on the amounts that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns. He added that it's just one of many bills in Congress promoting campaign finance reform, supported by the grassroots.
"There's a vibrant constitutional amendment movement that's been underway since the Citizens United ruling," he declared. "Sixteen states are on record calling for this kind of an amendment; 500 cities and towns."
Another Supreme Court decision - McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission - will be out any day, and could open the door to even more influence by wealthy donors on election outcomes.
The Senate bill mentioned is at GPO.gov.