Senator Jon Tester today introduced a Constitutional Amendment clarifying that corporations are not "people," restoring the right of Congress to limit corporate influence in elections.
In introducing his amendment, Tester is heeding the call of Montana voters, who voted overwhelmingly in November to direct Montana's Congressional delegation to amend the U.S. Constitution to empower Congress to limit corporate spending in elections.
Tester's amendment would overturn Citizens United, the unpopular 2010 Supreme Court decision which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns with no transparency.
"Montanans expect real people and their ideas -not corporations and their money-to decide our elections," Tester said. "The Citizens United decision undermines Montana values and distorts the democratic process. Montanans rejected corporate control of elections a century ago, and I'm proud to join them in standing up for our long-held values."
Tester, a consistent critic of Citizens United, said today at a press conference that unlimited and undisclosed corporate spending warped 2012's elections. He said holding corporations accountable would empower voters and support leaders willing to tackle the tough issues facing the country.
Tester is also co-sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment introduced by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall. Udall's amendment specifically authorizes Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, while letting states oversee spending at their level.
Montana's efforts to stand up to corporate influence in elections date back to the early 1900s, when wealthy mining corporations used their money to buy election outcomes. In response, Montana voters in 1912 passed an initiative limiting corporate influence-a law recently upheld by Montana's Supreme Court, but overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
To alter the U.S. Constitution, an amendment must pass both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives by two-thirds majority before being ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.