The Democratic Party platform approved by delegates on Tuesday attacks Republicans for applauding the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision and calls for campaign finance reforms, even if it takes amending the constitution to reverse the landmark ruling that unleashed unprecedented corporate campaign spending.
The announcement brought cheers from progressive groups that have been busy building a broad movement to push for constitutional and legislative remedies for Citizens United.
The Democratic Party and the White House are fighting to hold Congress to “higher conflict-of-interest standards,” according to the platform, which claims that President Obama and the national party do not accept contributions from federal lobbyists during this election cycle.
Democrats would also require nonprofit groups and super PACs that swamp the airwaves with political ads to reveal their donors. Senate Republicans have twice used a filibuster to block the DISCLOSE Act, the Democrats’ legislative response to Citizens United that would make it harder to anonymously donate to political groups.
The Republican Party platform released last week vows to defend the Citizens United decision and states that Americans have the “free speech right to devote one’s resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports.” The Supreme Court’s controversial 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United case was largely based on First Amendment grounds.
The GOP would also oppose the DISCLOSE Act, repeal the remaining sections of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, and repeal or raise contribution limits.
Citizens United has allowed corporations and rich donors to contribute unlimited amounts of cash to independent campaign groups, and, in general, Republicans have seen the most immediate benefits. Four of the five biggest outside spenders are conservative super PACS and nonprofit groups such as the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Restore Our Future, the top super PAC backing Mitt Romney, has spent more than $82 million during the 2012 cycle. Priorities USA Action, the top pro-Democrat super PAC supporting Obama, has spent $22 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In all, super PACS have spent nearly $219 million on the election so far.
Pushing for a constitutional amendment to defeat Citizens United has become a rallying point for Obama supporters and big coalitions of progressive groups like Common Cause and People for the American Way (PFAW).
The groups point to a recent Reuters poll that found three out of four Americans think there is too much money in politics and the amount of cash spent on elections has given rich people more influence than others. In stark contrast to the Republican platform, only 25 percent of Americans feel that there is an intrinsic right to unlimited campaign spending.
“Since the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision, Americans across the political spectrum have called for decisive action to limit the influence of money in our elections,” said PFAW president Michael Keegan. “There are legislative solutions, like the DISCLOSE Act,” said Keegan.
“But there are only two ways to fully undo the damage of Citizens United: to elect a president who will nominate fair-minded Supreme Court justices, and to pass a constitutional amendment.”
PFAW and other groups have helped pass resolutions calling for an amendment to reverse Citizens United in several state legislatures and city halls across the country.