Richard Woodbury, an Independent Maine state senator, introduced a measure Tuesday asking his state's delegation to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.
The symbolic resolution -- which says Citizens United and similar rulings "disproportionately elevate the role of wealthy special interests in elections and diminish the voices and influence of ordinary Americans" -- was approved by a 25-9 vote in the state’s Senate and a 111-31 vote in the state’s House, Bangor Daily News reports. Thus far, twelve other states have passed resolutions to support the overturning of Citizens United.
“This is not reasoned debate of the issues," Woodbury said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "This is not respectful differences of opinion. It’s not good democracy. It’s something much closer to buying influence over government.”
Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) argued special interest groups shouldn't be able to "drown out the voices of the people."
Woodbury expressed his opposition to Citizens United at an event on Monday.
“The Citizens United decision has been enormously destructive, to electoral politics specifically, and even more broadly to the effective practice of democracy in America by allowing essentially unlimited spending on elections by corporations and interest groups,” Woodbury said. “It has trivialized the voice and influence of regular voters.”
The Bangor Daily News reports Woodbury's former opponent’s privately funded campaign raised more than six times as much as his did.
Woodbury isn't the first to propose overturning the ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed unrestricted spending in federal campaigns. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) introduced a constitutional amendment in March 2013, and later that month, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to call on Congress to enact a constitutional amendment overturning the decision.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) -- along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) -- wrote about the issue in a HuffPost blog in November 2011, saying "the Supreme Court is ignoring its own precedents to unleash a torrent of corporate and special interest money into our elections."