The Capitol Record

Senate panel considers resolution rebelling against Citizens United ruling

A Senate panel on Tuesday heard testimony on a resolution calling on Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

The decision allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on independent political campaigns. A later court decision based on the high court’s ruling freed up individuals to give unlimited amounts to independent groups, which led to the creation of the super PAC.

“I think the way that money has come to be deployed in our politics is a threat to our democracy and it’s a threat to both the reality and perception of individual citizens being able to have an influence on the political process,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), the prime sponsor of the resolution.

The measure was passed by the House by a partisan vote of 55-42 earlier this month. Seven other states have passed similar measures calling for an amendment to reverse the ruling.

The Senate version of the bill never made it out of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, the same panel of lawmakers that heard testimony on the bill Tuesday. The symbolic legislation offered by the House also has little chance in the Republican-controlled committee chaired by Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn).

Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle), a lawyer who backed the Senate version of the measure, argued the Citizens United ruling unfairly gives people with more money a louder voice in the political process.

“Usually I am one of those people that is willing to listen to certain guidance from our courts, particularly the Supreme Court,” he said. “But I think they failed. I think they made a significant error here and it’s not an error in some innocuous law that governs 18 people. This unfortunately goes to the foundation of democracy.”

No one testified against the resolution during Tuesday’s hearing and the committee did not take action on the measure.

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