Getting a federal constitutional amendment passed is a tall order at best – if not a fool’s errand in some cases. But activists from a handful of groups worried about the influence of money in politics brought an estimated 12,000 petition signatures to the state Capitol Thursday, seeking legislative support for exactly such a federal campaign.
The activists gave their petitions to state Sen. Adam Kline, a Seattle Democrat who is introducing a bill that would ask Congress to draft the constitutional amendment for adoption by the states. Kline hasn’t dropped his bill into the hopper but he says his long-shot effort is meant to show support for congressional action that would give power back to states and Congress to regulate the role of money in politics.
He says that power was undermined by the U.S. Supreme Court’s much criticized 2010 decision in Citizens United.
Asked why he’d bother – given that even an Equal Rights Amendment for women failed to get ratified by two-thirds of the states – he said: “First you can’t bitch and moan about the uphill battle unless you fight it. I’m not going to complain (that) this couldn’t happen unless I have given everything I’ve got.”
Kline said his bill simply asks Congress to draft the language and put it out to the states for ratification. He indicated there are some Republicans who share his concern about the role of money in politics – particularly if the same limits were to apply to unions, businesses and tribes. But he declined to identify anyone who might sign onto his measure – known as a Senate Joint Memorial.
See an analysis of Citizens United here. Here is an excerpt from Kline’s bill:
Despite the steep climb faced by activists, they are moving ahead around the country. “Move to Amend”groups have sprung up in several communities, and one in Olympia has asked the city council to support their effort. Other groups involved include Get Money Out of Politics, which grew out of the Occupy Seattle effort more than a year ago.
“We know it might never be passed but if we pass this resolution we’ll be joining the spirit of other states that have passed “ resolutions,” said GMOP activist Annie Phillips of Burien, who helped bring petitions to Kline. “It’s kind of a groundswell of the people’s desire to overturn Citizens United.”
Other groups in the WAMEND coalition include Washington Public Campaigns, Free Speech for People, FUSE, Island County Citizens Ignited Against Citizens United, Metropolitan Democratic Club, Move On-Seattle Council, Move to Amend, Public Citizen, and WashPIRG.