Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on Sunday that if elected he would nominate Supreme Court justices committed to overturning the Citizens United decision which Sanders said is “undermining American democracy.”
The court’s 2010 decision voided campaign funding laws and has opened the floodgates for political spending by corporations and wealthy individuals.
“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice. That nominee will say that we are going to overturn this disastrous decision in Citizens United because that decision is undermining American democracy,” Sanders said during an interview on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” Added Sanders, “I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”
Sanders (I-Vt.), who favors public funding of elections, is the sponsor of a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In the five years since the court struck down limits on campaign spending, billionaires like the industrialists Charles and David Koch and the Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson have spent heavily on political campaigns. The Koch brothers and their network of other wealthy donors have signaled their intention to invest nearly $1 billion in the next elections. The Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that so-called super PACs spawned by the Citizens United ruling have spent more than $1 billion to influence elections.
Sixteen states, including Vermont, and voters and city councils in more than 600 cities and towns have passed measures supporting a constitutional amendment.