DFL bill calls on Congress to overturn Citizens United

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Rep. Dehn is leading a push to get Congress to propose a constitutional amendment pertaining to campaign finance laws.
The Minnesota Senate already passed legislation calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United, the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions. Now, the House is trying to do the same thing.

The bill's chief author, Rep. Ray Dehn, D-Minneapolis, says as things stand right now, the House vote will come down to a "thin margin."

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"We've hovering right around the number of votes necessary to pass it," Dehn tells us. "We need to make sure we have the votes before we bring it to the floor."

The bill is a joint resolution "requesting that Congress propose a constitutional amendment and, if Congress does not propose an amendment, applying to Congress to call a constitutional convention to propose an amendment clarifying that the rights protected under the Constitution are the rights of natural persons and not the rights of artificial entities and that spending money to influence elections is not speech under the First Amendment."

If 34 states (including Minnesota) pass similar legislation, Congress would be forced to call America's second ever constitutional convention. But one of the bill's supporters, House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, said that prospect makes some of his colleagues nervous.
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Rep. Thissen

"If we were to call a constitutional convention, it wouldn't necessarily be limited to Citizens United and the impact of money on politics but could spread into all sorts of other issues," Thissen says. "Many supporters tend to be more on the liberal side, but if their state sends conservative delegates you could have things like balanced budget amendments."

"You don't know what could come out of it and you could lose control," Thissen continues. "This convention would have the power arguably not just to shape [campaign finance law] but the whole constitution -- the Equal Protection Clause could be altered, any number of those kinds of things."

But both Thissen and Dehn think whatever risks a constitutional convention presents would be worth navigating for the sake of striking down Citizens United.

"I think there's no question that the impact of money and viewing corporations as people has really deformed our political process and we need to do something about it," Thissen says.

As far as the vote tally goes, Dehn admits he's "had difficulty getting Republicans on board."

"The fear of overturning Citizens United is that individuals would then be governed on what they spend as private citizens regarding elections," Dehn says. "So although I've spoken to a few [Republicans] that support [the bill], getting a vote for it is a different thing."

Some have questioned the lack of media coverage House File 276 has received... ... but Dehn doesn't attribute that to any sort of media conspiracy.

(For more, click to page two.)


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16 comments
Kevin Jay
Kevin Jay

I am not saying the ruling is right just saying the court ruled on it

John Bunch
John Bunch

Obamacare has exceeded its goals. Which is why Sebelius stepped down, no Democrat wants to run on it this November, and Obama's support in blue state Minnesota has hit rock bottom at 36%. Stop reading Salon and check your facts

Brandon Crowson
Brandon Crowson

Also, unemployment has slowly, but steadily dropped under Obama, and the Affordable Care Act (Which was originally a Republican idea btw), has exceeded it's goals. Stop watching Fox News. Check your facts.

Ryan Warwick
Ryan Warwick

@Kevin learn what the issue is first before that blanket statement. Citizens united is a danger to our democracy.

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

Should we focus on union political contributions?

Kevin Jay
Kevin Jay

DFL always looking for ways to skirt the constitution. Here is just another example. state legislatures trying to usurp things.

Shayne O'Neil
Shayne O'Neil

Typical statist wanting to stifle free speech.

ahodny01
ahodny01

I think there is too much concern about "losing control." For any proposed amendment to be become an amendment to the US Constitution, 3/4 of the state legislatures or conventions within the states would need to ratify it (Source: Article V, US Constitution). Americans don't agree on much. Anything that could get 3/4 of state legislatures or conventions in the states behind it would be by definition consensus driven. Neither the right nor the left will have "control." The only Constitutional Amendments that have any hope of becoming law are those that have wide support from the right and the left.

Bradley America
Bradley America

Remember when the last Constitutional Convention was only supposed to rewrite the Articles of Confederation and then they scrapped the whole thing and built a whole new government? Let's try it again!

Andrew Hodny
Andrew Hodny

I think there is too much concern about "losing control." For any proposed amendment to be become an amendment to the US Constitution, 3/4 of the state legislatures would need to ratify it (Source: Article V, US Constitution). Americans don't agree on much. Anything that could get 3/4 of state legislatures behind it would be by definition consensus driven. Neither the right nor the left will have "control." The only Constitutional Amendments that have any hope of becoming law are those that have wide support from the right and the left.

Shawn Spence
Shawn Spence

If there was a constitutional convention, would it cover just this issue or could it cover anything the states wanted to vote on? That could get pretty interesting.

Chad Howard
Chad Howard

Oh no! Not the fear of an amendment requiring balanced budgets!

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

I'm not really sure why so many people are all bent out of shape about the citizens united supreme court decision. People whine about the elections being bought by corporations but I've never been paid to vote for anybody, have you? Are you so stupid that you believe commercials? Are you so stupid that you vote for who has the most commercials? If people look at the voting records of candidates and think for themselves it doesn't matter how much money is spent or who spends it.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Might wanna re-think that one

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@midwestexplorer81  Great point.  By that logic since you've never been murdered do we really need laws against murder?  


Citizen's United opened the door for corruption.  The Republicans are completely controlled by rich people.  It's only a matter of time before the Democrats are equally corrupt.  Rich people don't have the right to buy politicians.  Look at how the Republicans went out to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson.  Makes us a weaker nation to have that going on.  Republicans are disgusting pathetic bootlicks of the rich.  I don't want every politician to be like that.  We need reform. 

lkjhasdf
lkjhasdf

@MicheleBachmann @midwestexplorer81  You know Obama outspent Mccain and Romney both by a margin of nearly 2:1 right? Campaign donations can go both ways and come from any number of parties or individuals. You don't think though, so I guess facts don't matter.

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