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28th Amendment D.O.A.: A Sign of Compromised Elections?

PHOTO: The proposed 28th Amendment fell short of the 60 U.S. Senate votes needed for passage last week. Voting rights advocates see it as a sign of the extent to which U.S. election fairness has been compromised. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
PHOTO: The proposed 28th Amendment fell short of the 60 U.S. Senate votes needed for passage last week. Voting rights advocates see it as a sign of the extent to which U.S. election fairness has been compromised. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
September 15, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. – The U.S. Senate debated the so-called Democracy for All Amendment last week – and then voted along party lines to kill what would have been the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

Cheri Quickmire, executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause of Connecticut, says the Senate had an opportunity to level the playing field by restoring limits for political campaign spending.

She points out the fact that the Senate could not muster 60 votes to keep the measure alive, is a sign of just how compromised U.S. elections are.

"They're the ones who are the real opponents of free speech,” Quickmire asserts. “They're the ones who are maintaining a system where a few wealthy Americans are allowed to drown out the voices of millions of others."

The U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals when making campaign contributions.

Opponents of the measure say they were standing up for free speech.

But Quickmire says very few Americans have piles of money to contribute to political campaigns.

She says her group will press on, noting it took more than 70 years to pass the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, campaign co-director at Public Citizen, maintains the reason Senate Republicans decided to allow the measure to even come up for debate is because the issue of big money in politics has become part of the national conversation.

"I think it's partly attributable just to the really popular energy around this that Republicans felt they couldn't shut down debate,” he says. “And it's been really exciting to hear the debate all week showing – to me, clearly – that there's not a viable argument against a constitutional amendment."

The 28th Amendment fell short of the first constitutional hurdle that requires a two-thirds vote in Congress. Amending the Constitution also requires the support of at least three-quarters, or 38, of the states.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT