This afternoon, President Obama engaged in a question and answer setting with Reddit users. Suzanne Merkelson, a staffer with the campaign finance reform organization United Republic, asked Obama, “What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?” In his his response he endorsed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United:

Obama: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

(Over 55,000 people have applied pressure for this change by endorsing the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s Take Back Democracy agenda.)

At a Senate hearing about overturning Citizens United last month, Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig outlined such a process.

Lessig called for Congress to establish 4 non-binding citizen conventions in different regions of the country, with 300 people picked at random for each. This would be akin to picking and compensating a jury. Each convention would deliberate and recommend a Constitutional Amendment. Congress could then use the results to draw up a proposed amendment and put it through the formal amendment process.

Lessig’s rationale was that Congress, with a 10% approval rating, does not have have the public’s trust enough to reform its own rules. These conventions would be “of the people” and therefore be trusted — especially if multiple conventions came to the same independent result. Senators including Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Chris Coons (D-DE) all took and active interest in this proposal and asked Lessig numerous follow-up questions. See excerpts from Lessig’s testimony here:


In a call with PCCC members last month, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and discussed other elements of the PCCC’s Take Back Democracy campaign.