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Sen. Franken in Speech: Today's Supreme Court Ruling Will Further Concentrate Influence in Hands of Billionaires, Wealthy Corporations; Take it from Other Americans

In Senate Floor Speech, Senator Calls for More Transparency in Political Giving, Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Court's Recent Decisions

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In a Senate floor speech today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to undo caps on campaign contributions will further concentrate power in the hands of billionaires and wealthy corporations. You can download video of Sen. Franken's floor speech here.

He called on Congress to restore Americans' faith in democracy by enacting reforms to increase transparency and to begin work on a constitutional amendment to reverse recent Supreme Court decisions that have eliminated meaningful limits on money in politics. You can read his speech here.

"I'm sure that this decision is cause for celebration for some-the super wealthy and well-funded corporate interests-because, after all, these rulings give them even more influence, more access, and more power-as if they need it," Sen. Franken said in his floor speech. "Then there's everyone else-the everyday folks in Minnesota and around the country who don't have the luxury of pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns.

"Our democracy can't function the way it's supposed to when theses voices are drowned out by a flood of corporate money. So for those of us who believe that the measure of a democracy's strength is in votes cast, not dollars spent-for us, there's nothing to celebrate today."

Sen. Franken said Wednesday's ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) was just the latest in a series of court decisions that do away with limits on money in politics. Combined with the Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, it represents pro-corporate judicial activism designed to give millionaires and corporations far too much influence in the nation's democratic process.

Wednesday's ruling struck down overall limits on campaign contributions. The decision builds on the 2010 case of Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Court ruled for the first time that there is no limit on the amount of money corporations can spend to influence elections. Since then, Sen. Franken has been fighting to reverse the decision.

"Because here's the thing: in our democracy, everyone is supposed to have an equal say, regardless of his or her wealth," he said. "The guy on the assembly line gets as many votes as the CEO-one. You don't get extra votes just because you have extra money. You don't get a greater say just because you have greater wealth. It doesn't work that way."

Calls for Action to Restore Americans' Faith In Democracy

Sen. Franken called on Congress to enact a series of campaign finance reforms and to begin the difficult work needed to reverse the Supreme Court's actions. 

"Let me be clear: amending the constitution is not something I take lightly. I think that it should be done only in extraordinary situations. But the Supreme Court's decisions present us with one of those situations-because they erode the very foundation of our democracy," he said.

Sen. Franken also called for Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act, which would make candidates who refuse contributions of more than $150 eligible for public financing, and the DISCLOSE Act, which requires public disclosure whenever someone spends more than $10,000 to influence an election.

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