Strategy 1 Achieve Equality of Voice and Representation

Pass an Amendment to Address Money in Politics

Strategy 1
Achieve Equality of Voice and Representation

Recommendation 1.5

Amend the Constitution to authorize the regulation of election contributions and spending to eliminate undue influence of money in our political system, and to protect the rights of all Americans to free speech, political participation, and meaningful representation in government.

Read in the Report

The Need

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision determined, on free-speech grounds, that corporate entities can give unlimited amounts of money to independent political committees. Since 2010, big money has become a fact of life in American politics, and its influence is one of the greatest obstacles to restoring faith in the political system.

Outside Spending in Midterm Elections
Source: OpenSecrets.org

A constitutional amendment repealing Citizens United would help reduce the political influence of special interest groups and help restore voters’ belief that government works for them. 

Many attendees at the Commission’s listening sessions made clear that they think government represents the wealthy and special interests and not regular Americans. Academics have confirmed that campaign contributions can push representatives to act in favor of special interests rather than their constituents. Many Americans believe that “one person, one vote” has been replaced by “one dollar, one vote.”

Government and Campaign Spending
Source: Pew Research Center
“It just seems like the money always speaks louder than the voices.”
—Phoenix, Arizona
“What money you have, what money you are able to contribute, determines whether or not your voice gets heard.”
—Farmville, Virginia
“The higher up it goes, the more money’s involved, and the more that political donations and PACs and money take over and influence individuals.  Because they serve as stand-ins for people.”
—Lexington, Kentucky

The case for an amendment

The current makeup of the Supreme Court makes it unlikely that the decision in Citizens United will be overturned, which leaves only one option: a constitutional amendment.

Support for such a move is growing. Twenty states have already passed preratification legislation in support of a constitutional amendment that would allow for congressional regulation of election spending. Though nonbinding, the legislation passed by these states sends a strong signal to Congress about the will of the American people.

The framers designed constitutional amendment to be difficult: they intended it to be a solution of last resort for matters of only the highest national importance. Yet they also understood that the Constitution is not perfect. We have amended it twenty-seven times already, and now we must do so again.

Champion

American Promise and Faithful Democracy are committed to working to implement this recommendation in order to help reinvent American democracy for the 21st century.

American Promise is a cross-partisan, not-for-profit network empowering Americans to win permanent reform through a Constitutional Amendment that gives everyone an equal voice. When our voices are all equally represented, the decisions that affect our lives will be determined by us, not big money. More than 75% of Americans across the political spectrum agree on this reform and millions have already taken action to win it. 

Faithful Democracy is a multi-faith coalition of faith-based organizations and congregations who share the moral imperative of fixing our democratic systems. While our partners represent a diversity of beliefs and traditions, we unite around the common goal of creating a healthier, thriving democracy. 

See the full list of Our Common Purpose Champions.

In order to implement Recommendation 1.5 by 2026, the Commission proposes the following milestones to complete by year-end of:

2020

  • Elevate this as an issue of citizen empowerment and encourage individuals to support existing efforts. Encourage candidates to pledge their support such an amendment. Get on the ballot in Alaska

2021

  • Begin a national campaign to educate voters on why a Constitutional Amendment is necessary to combat the pernicious effects on citizen empowerment of big money in elections

2023 

  • Thirty-eight states pass resolutions in favor of a campaign finance Constitutional Amendment (currently 20 have done so)
  • Bipartisan sponsored legislation is introduced and receives bipartisan support in votes in the House and Senate

2026

  • Ratify the amendment