Congressmen rally against Citizens United

By Elai Kobayashi-Solomon
Opinion Editor 
The U.S. Senate voted on a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision this Monday. The voting followed a rally held by Democratic Senators and Congressmen who gathered to raise awareness and protest the controversial Citizens United decision.
Citizens United is a U.S. constitutional law case dealing with the regulation of campaign spending by corporations. To put it in simple terms, the 2010 Supreme Court decision held that corporations and labor unions have the same First Amendment rights as individuals. Thus, any restriction to the amount of money that these organizations can spend in support of political parties violated their freedom of speech, and was therefore unconstitutional.
The decision was incredibly controversial at the time, as many politicians believed that this would inevitably lead to major government corruption. Because there were, on the most part, no more limits to political donations, the fear was that wealthy corporations and businesses would be able to donate huge sums of money to ensure that politicians that they were in favor of would win their respective elections.
Now, a group of Congressmen led by Senator Tom Udall are attempting to reverse the Citizens United decision, thereby reinstating the political donation limits that previously existed.
“Our elections are not auctions to the highest bidder,” Udall, the lead sponsor of the bill, told reporters at the rally, which was hosted by nonprofit group Public Citizen.
Similarly, Senator Bernie Sanders called the drive to undo Supreme Court decisions that got rid of campaign finance laws “the major issue of our time” and said Monday’s showdown vote is “a pivotal moment in American history.”
Although the result of the vote is yet to be released, AP U.S. History teacher Craig Bianchi believes that ultimately, the probability of this bill passing is close to zero. Personally, Bianchi thinks that money is not speech; however, he says that proving that monetary donations is not an expression of one’s’ free speech is a difficult task, and perhaps is not even correct.
“As long as the Supreme Court interprets [the bill] as a freedom of speech issue, it becomes a First Amendment right, which is hard to curtail,” Bianchi said. “A lot of people that I respect said that the Citizens United case was a valid interpretation [of the First Amendment] and that the Supreme Court decided correctly [on Citizens United].”