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California Legislature Approves Resolution Opposing Citizens United Ruling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — California today became the largest state in the nation urging Congress to draft a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. AJR 22 by Wieckowski and Allen seeks to restore balance to campaign finance spending.

The state Senate voted 24 to 11 to approve Assembly Joint Resolution 22, authored by Assemblymembers Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Michael Allen (D-Sonoma). The 2010 court ruling ignored long-standing precedent and allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates. The state Assembly passed the resolution in March.

The ruling and subsequent legal decisions have led to the creation of roughly 600 Super PACs and multi-million dollar donations from wealthy special interests. It allows corporations to donate from their general treasuries. The California labor movement and public interest organizations such as Public Citizen, Common Cause, Credo Mobile, and CalPIRG supported AJR 22. There was no registered opposition to the resolution.

“Today’s vote sends a clear message that California rejects this misguided ruling made by the conservative activists on the Supreme Court,” Wieckowski said. “The Legislature’s action and the 50,000 Californians who wrote in support of AJR 22, show that it is time to restore sanity to our campaign finance laws. If Congress doesn’t act, our electoral process will be more dominated by millionaires and billionaires and their concerns will drown out the voice of common Americans.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg praised the Senate’s passage of AJR 22.

“I’m proud that the California State Senate passed AJR 22, memorializing our disagreement with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision and calling upon the U.S. Congress to act to overturn the decision,” Steinberg said. “Since the decision, large corporations and the wealthy have dominated campaign spending. We must tip the scales back to a balance that once again gives a strong voice to the people.”

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, a staunch critic of the ruling, described the importance of amending the constitution.

“Unless we aim to turn over control of our elections to Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sheldon Adelson and a very few others, we need a constitutional amendment to reset our campaign finance system and to re-establish the principle that democracy means rule by the people, not giant corporations.”

Both President Barack Obama and Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain have heavily criticized the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Proposed amendments have already been introduced in the U.S. Congress. Hawaii, New Mexico, Maryland, Vermont and Rhode Island have also passed resolutions through their legislatures.

Supporters of AJR 22 include California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association, California Church Impact, California League of Conservation Voters, Free Speech for People, Consumer Watchdog, California Teachers Association, California Professional Firefighters, International Forum on Globalization, People for the American Way, Laborers Local 777 and 792 and the city councils of Davis, Berkeley and Santa Monica.

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