ANNAPOLIS – Maryland legislators gathered with activists outside the state capitol Thursday to promote an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would end the multi-million dollar flood of corporate money bolstering political campaigns.
In its controversial Citizens United decision in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of granting corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts from their treasury funds to promote political candidates.
Led by Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, General Assembly members were encouraged to add their signatures to a letter calling for the amendment, meant for the U.S. Congress. The Lawyer’s Mall rally drew about 100 people.
“We don’t want corporations to govern,” Raskin said. “We want people to govern, and that’s why we’re here today.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, outside groups spent almost $300 million during the 2010 election cycle.
“That kind of money drowns out the voices of ordinary people,” said Mark Hays, a campaign coordinator for Public Citizen.
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., was critical of what he viewed as a corporate takeover of the political process.
Recognizing a constitutional amendment may take time, his short-term goal is to push the DISCLOSE Act through Congress.
The act, which failed to break a filibuster by three votes in 2010, would require the disclosure of political spending – information which is often kept secret until well after elections.
“This decision will go down in history as one of the worst decisions made by a Supreme Court of the United States,” Van Hollen said.