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Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee on proposed Constitutional amendment

July 09, 2014

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association and the students they serve, we urge you to support S. J. Res. 19, scheduled for full committee markup tomorrow. This proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States would expressly grant Congress the authority to regulate and limit the amount of money raised for—and spent on—federal political campaigns, and allow states to regulate campaign spending at their level. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC four years ago, corporate money has flooded our political system, drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans. In McCutcheon v. FEC, issued earlier this year, the Court lifted the cap on the total amount a single individual can contribute to candidates, political parties, and political committees, further tipping the scales in favor of big money donors. In 2012 alone, “Super PACs” and 501(c)4 entities spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of elections. 

Congress and the states are helpless to prevent the resulting distortion of our democracy. In effect, the Supreme Court decisions cited above are denying regular people an equal say in determining the future of our country. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Congress to turn down the volume on corporate speech and big money donors, so individual citizens could be heard as our nation’s founders intended. 

The power to speak freely is a hollow freedom for the millions of Americans whose voice is drowned out by the booming echo of big money as speech. We were encouraged when S. J. Res. 19 passed out of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, and urge you to support it to protect democracy and the voice of the American people.  

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations