Tester: Citizens United decision a threat to democracy
(U.S. SENATE) - Senator Jon Tester is not passing up any opportunity to warn lawmakers about the dangers to American democracy posed by the U.S. Supreme Court's unpopular Citizens United decision.
Tester today introduced University of Montana Law Professor Anthony Johnstone to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the influence of corporations on elections in the wake of the unpopular 2010 decision. Tester has consistently opposed the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns with no transparency.
In his introduction, Tester said that people and their ideas - not corporations and their money - should decide elections, and he warned of the decision's consequences for America's democracy.
"Some people think that Citizens United should be left alone because it helps Republicans, others will tell you that in time it will help Democrats," Tester told the panel. "I will tell you today that this is disastrous for our democracy."
Johnstone, an election law specialist and former Solicitor for Montana, told the panel that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Montana's law shows that the Supreme Court favors corporations over people.
Tester also highlighted Montana's unique election history in making his case for greater election transparency and accountability.
"At the turn of the last century, one of the world's wealthiest men literally bought himself a seat in the U.S. Senate," Tester said. "His name was William Clark. And because of him, Montana passed a law in 1912 limiting the influence of wealthy corporations over our elections."
Citing Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Montana's century-old law earlier this year.
"Transparency and accountability keep people like William Clark from being able to buy something that all American are entitled to no matter how much money they have: the power to vote," Tester added. "The Supreme Court's decision means we're back where we were in the past - when seats in Congress were up for sale."
Tester supports a Constitutional amendment that overturns the Citizens United decision and restores transparency in elections.