Local group works with state legislators to overturn Citizens United

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Local members of the American Dream Movement are working to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows for unlimited corporate donations to political campaigns. From left are Denise Jones, Hope Jenkins, Susannah Newman, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, Betsy Haskin, Claire Nagel and Andrea Smith. Local members of the American Dream Movement are working to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows for unlimited corporate donations to political campaigns. From left are Denise Jones, Hope Jenkins, Susannah Newman, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, Betsy Haskin, Claire Nagel and Andrea Smith.

Seven local members of the American Dream Movement met with state Sen. Jeff Van Drew on Friday, May 25 to strategize passage of his NJ Senate Resolution, SR 47, which “expresses strong opposition to” the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. FEC decision by calling upon Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment that would define a person as “only a natural person” with regard to campaign spending by corporations and their protection under the First Amendment.

The Citizens United decision held that corporations are protected under the First Amendment and can exercise their freedom of speech in campaign spending.

With input from other New Jersey political interest groups, the American Dream Movement is leading a statewide campaign, “NJ For the Overturn of Citizens United.” The group is also working with Assemblyman Herb Conaway for the passage of an identical Assembly Resolution, AR 86.

During the meeting with Van Drew, the group stressed the urgency of moving both resolutions out of committee and to the full legislature for a vote during this current session.

“National Resolution Week is June 11-17,” said campaign spokeswoman Susannah Newman. “As well, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings in Washington, D.C. beginning on July 17, to reconcile the language of proposed Constitutional Amendments that would overturn the decision. New Jersey must seize the national momentum and go on the record now as a leader.

This is not a partisan issue,” said Newman. “The country is angry about having the people’s voice so minimized. Over 80 percent of voters, crossing party lines, disagree with the Court’s decision, its corrupting influence and preferential treatment of big business and the wealthy over ordinary people. Money is buying our elections and as a result is setting the state and congressional agendas and their outcomes.”

Van Drew said that the constant need for campaign money “puts all of us in a bind.”

“I don’t see why there would be too much opposition to the passage of these resolutions,” he said. “They should move on to Washington as we all want. District legislator constituency support is the key and all means of outreach, including phone calls, will help.”

The group has gathered over 6,000 signatures in support of the two resolutions. The goal is 10,000 by June 8. To sign the petition, go to http://signon.org/sign/nj-for-the-overturn-of.


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