Wilson urges Congress to act quickly in aftermath of Supreme Court decision
Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010
The League of Women Voters today testified before the Committee on House Administration in a hearing entitled "Defining the Future of Campaign Finance in an Age of Supreme Court Activism."
At the U.S. congressional hearing, Mary G. Wilson, the national League president, told committee members that they must pass legislation governing corporate and union spending quickly, in order for it to take effect for the 2010 elections.
“The Court’s majority decision in Citizens United v. FEC was fundamentally wrong and a tragic mistake. But this is the decision of the Court,” said Wilson. “Congress needs to respond now, recognizing its own authority and responsibility to uphold the Constitution. Fair and clean elections, determined by the votes of American citizens, should be at the center of our democracy.”
“The Court’s decision in Citizens United upends basic campaign finance law that has been in place for a century. It changes the foundation on which decades of congressional enactments on money in elections are built. Such a fundamental change requires a strong response from Congress and the Executive.”
The League supports numerous concepts moving forward in this post-Citizens United context; however, Wilson stressed the urgency in doing something now. “After Citizens United, we urgently need enhanced disclosure. This is the most basic step toward protecting the role of the voter in making decisions in elections,” stated Wilson. “It is now possible for corporations to secretly provide funds that another corporation uses to intervene in an election through independent expenditures. This is not acceptable. The League of Women Voters supports strong disclosure requirements for both those who receive election funds and those who provide such funds.”
“After providing enhanced disclosure, the next most important step for Congress is to do no further harm. A decision as far-reaching in its implications as Citizens United will provoke a number of proposals that, we believe, could make our election system and government processes even worse,” Wilson argued. “We need fair elections, not greater involvement of big money in elections and government. Each of these steps – such as altering contribution limits to candidates and PACs or allowing corporation and unions to once again donate huge sums to political parties – would increase corruption or the appearance of corruption and further distort our political processes.”
Wilson pointed to a number of other proposals – from new controls on foreign corporations to public financing – that Congress should consider in seeking to block corruption of American democracy.