Citing concerns about unlimited contributions by corporations for political advertising, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin joined fellow attorneys general in submitting a formal letter to Congress urging an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The letter sent Wednesday to Congressional leadership was signed by Attorney General Kilmartin and 10 other state attorneys general.
In January 2010, the United States Supreme court handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court ruled that certain restrictions under federal law on corporate political campaign advertisements violated the First Amendment's free speech protections, thereby allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
The Citizens United decision has resulted in a torrent of undisclosed corporate and special interest money into the electoral process due to the flourishing of corporate spending. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the amount of money spent by non-party committees during the 2010 Congressional elections was more than $300 million, more than four times the amount spent during the 2006 Congressional elections. This trend of increasing expenditures by non-party committees is only going to continue during the 2012 election cycle, which will mark the first Presidential election cycle since the Citizens United decision.
As stated in the letter, "The good news is that we can do something to right this wrong. In addition to supporting litigation fighting for states' rights to restrict corporate political spending through amicus briefs and the like, there is a national movement to amend the Constitution to limit First Amendment protections to natural persons, not corporations."
The passage of a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United would give Congress the power to put the electoral process back where it belongs: in the hands of the people, not corporations. In addition to Rhode Island, the Attorneys General of the following states signed onto the letter of support: Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Vermont and West Virginia.