For Immediate Release - August 03, 2012

AG Coakley Commends Legislature for Calling on Congress to Pass Constitutional Amendment Reversing "Citizens United"

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Allows Corporations to Spend Unlimited Amounts on Elections

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement commending the Massachusetts Legislature for supporting a resolution that calls on Congress to pass a federal Constitutional Amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“The passage of this resolution sends a clear message to Congress that corporate spending should not be considered free speech. This action by the Legislature gives voice to individual voters who have been drowned out by corporations allowed to spend billions to influence elections.  We will continue to urge Congress to reverse this decision.”

Background:

In January 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that certain restrictions under federal law on corporate political campaign advertisements violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. 

In December 2011, AG Coakley expressed her support for Senate Bill 772 “Restoring Free Speech” in a letter to the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Eugene O’Flaherty.  In April 2012, AG Coakley submitted a formal letter to Congress urging an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.  The letter to Congressional leadership was signed by AG Coakley and 10 other state Attorneys General. 

The Citizens United decision has resulted in a torrent of undisclosed corporate and special interest money into the electoral process due to the flourishing of corporate spending.   According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the amount of money spent by non-party committees during the 2010 Congressional elections was more than $300 million, more than four times the amount spent during the 2006 Congressional elections.  This trend of increasing expenditures by non-party committees is only going to continue during the 2012 election cycle, which will mark the first Presidential election cycle since the Citizens United decision.

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