LEGISLATURE | The California State Legislature approved a resolution Thursday calling on Congress to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s still-contentious Citizens United decision that essentially ruled corporate campaign contributions amounted to free speech.
The resolution was initially offered by Fremont Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski and Assemblyman Michael Allen of Sonoma. The State Senate voted along party lines, 24-11, to approve the resolution. The State Assembly also passed the resolution last March.
Critics of the decision say it has already unleashed a torrent of unregulated campaign dollars potentially skewing power towards the rich. “Today’s vote sends a clear message that California rejects this misguided ruling made by the conservative activists on the Supreme Court,” said Wieckowski. “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.”
Although, the State Senate’s action is merely symbolic, it does give voice to the rising tenor of anger from California liberals who fear the power to influence elections at all levels of government could be decided by the wealthy few. During the recent Republican presidential primaries, for example, three candidates, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain were separately bankrolled by three wealthy businessman.
“Since the decision, large corporations and the wealthy have dominated campaign spending,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “We must tip the scales back to a balance that once again gives a strong voice to the people.”
The Legislature’s support for overturning Citizens United makes it the biggest and most influential group yet to register official disapproval of the controversial decision. Five other state legislatures have passed similar resolutions, including, Hawaii, New Mexico, Maryland, Vermont and Rhode Island.