Congressman Denny Heck, D-Wash., joined the Democracy for All Amendment to reverse highly controversial Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, which have given corporations and the wealthiest donors the right to buy unlimited influence in elections.
H. J. Res. 119 is the House companion to S. J. Res. 19, the constitutional amendment slated for a vote in the U.S. Senate this year.
"Ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It's not government of corporations, by corporations, for corporations," Heck said. "Washington state has a decades-old tradition of full financial disclosure and spending limitations. We've done it here at home, and we can do it nationally to protect our democratic system."
Since the Citizens United decision in 2010 prohibiting the government from restricting political expenditures, Americans have witnessed an unprecedented explosion of big money in state and federal elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside spending tripled between 2008 and 2012, and 93 percent of the more than $600 million spent in 2012 by Super PACs came from about 3,300 donors, or .0011 percent of the American population.
Sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), S. J. Res. 19 was amended and passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 10, 2014. In addition to overturning recent rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Democracy for All Amendment also reverses the Supreme Court's controversial holding in Buckley v. Valeo that spending money in elections is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.
The text of the amendment follows:
Section I. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.
Section II. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.
Section III. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.