(Olympia, WA) – The Secretary of State’s Office for Washington State Elections certified Initiative 735 for the ballot today. I-735 will ask Washington voters to decide this November whether to join sixteen other states in calling for their state legislature and Congress to propose an amendment that makes clear that constitutional rights belong to human beings only and that money is not protected speech, effectively overturning the controversial decision in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
“We are inspired by the tremendous efforts by our Washington volunteers in the WAmend Coalition and the people of Washington State who made this ballot measure a reality! This represents an overwhelming rejection of the Supreme Court’s expansion of corporate power,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. “Voters in Washington have the opportunity to join a growing movement of people from all walks of life rejecting the overwhelming influence of big corporations in politics, and demanding a genuine democracy that is accountable to We the People, not wealthy interests.”
Since the Court’s 2010 decision to expand First Amendment rights for corporations and unions the amount of campaign spending in state and national elections has increased at an unprecedented rate. Over 1,200 volunteers and supporters of the WAmend Coalition worked over the past year collecting over 337,000 signatures supporting I-735, with over 112,000 signatures collected in December alone. Volunteers from Move to Amend, the national campaign that launched in the wake of Citizens United, played a large role in securing the initiative signatures.
"An overwhelming majority of Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed from the political process," continued Sopoci-Belknap. "It is time for Congress to pass the We the People Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and send it to the states for ratification. The leadership of both parties need to realize their constituents are demanding an end to money as speech and corporate personhood through a Constitutional amendment. We will only get louder the longer they delay."
Move to Amend is a rapidly growing national grassroots coalition of over 400,000 individuals and thousands of organizations working to pass a constitutional amendment to make clear that Constitutional rights belong to human beings and political spending is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Their “We The People Amendment” was introduced in the US House of Representatives on April 29, 2015 as House Joint Resolution 48 by Representative Richard Nolan (D-MN).
More information about the WAmend coalition can be found on their website at WAmend.org. The coalition is includes members of Move to Amend, Fix Democracy First, Public Citizen, Backbone Campaign, Move On, Money Out Voters In, and a number of other organizations.