• Jack Ziskin

How the 28th Amendment Will Fix Our Democracy

Photo Courtesy of Harvard Law

The movement for a 28th Amendment began after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In the case, the Supreme Court overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which was co-sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.). 

The ruling also overturned Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC. These laws restricted corporations, big unions and special interests ability to influence elections. The Citizens United case opened the floodgates allowing for unlimited corporate money to unjustly influence American elections. 

Citizens United grants corporations, special interest groups and wealthy individuals the right to spend unlimited money in our elections. Justice Anthony Kennedy and a conservative majority argued that restricting the spending of money was in violation of the First Amendment. This court ruling equates the right to spend unlimited money on an election with your right as a citizen to free speech. If anything, unlimited corporate money tries to drown out your voice as a citizen and tries to make it harder for Americans to fight back against corrupt politicians and businesses. 

The case was fought because a conservative political action group wanted to run a negative ad against then-Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton too close to the primary. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 prohibited ads from companies that mentioned a candidate name 30 days before the general election of 60 days before a primary. This rule was overturned by the Supreme Court, allowing for corporations to run smear campaigns against candidates. 

This is not in the best interest of the American people. Polls show that Americans are sick and tired of corporations and the wealthy influencing elections. 85% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 66% of Republicans support an amendment to keep corporate money out of our elections. We as Americans deserve free elections where corporations that make billions of dollars a year can’t influence our rights as citizens. 

The proposed 28th Amendment would allow Americans to limit corporations and special interest spending during elections. This would overturn Citizens United and allow Americans to retake control of elections from corrupt organizations. The act will also allow for partisan gerrymandering to be banned. This will mean that republicans and democrats cannot draw congressional districts, state senate districts, and state assembly district lines to benefit one party or the other. This will ensure that constituents pick their representatives, not the other way around.  The proposed amendment would allow all Americans to vote in each election by removing obstacles such as state ID laws. 

The proposed amendment would also allow for the public financing of elections through a voucher program which gives citizens money to put towards their favored candidate. The public financing of elections would weaken special interest influence. There have also been proposals aimed at ranked-choice voting so that if your first choice is eliminated, your vote would go to your second choice. Ranked-choice voting is currently legal in the state of Maine and allows people to vote outside the two-party system. 

The 28th Amendment would, in theory, remove term limits. Adam Christensen, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 3rd District, believes that term limits are ineffective because as long as corporate money is allowed in elections, all politicians would simply do what corporations want, not what the constituents want. Term limits are not popular with political scientists, due to the fact it often leads to inexperienced Congresspeople and Senators who fail in office. 

Furthermore, the Amendment would remove the Electoral College and allow for a national popular vote. Our founding fathers did not intend for the Electoral College to silence the rights of millions of Americans to name their president based on what state they live in. If not for the Electoral College Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump would not have been elected

As evidenced by McConnell v. FEC, some Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Mr. Trump don’t want the 28th Amendment to pass. Corporate money keeps them in office and allows the wealthy to have an unfair influence on the lives of everyday Americans. It is time to stop special interests from owning American politicians and time to start making politicians answer to their only constituents, the American people. This is why, if elected, Mr. Christensen will push to ensure the 28th Amendment is passed and that our elections are truly fair and balanced. 

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