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Assembly OKs Benson, Conaway & Eustace Measure Calling for Constitutional Convention to Limit Corporate Influence on Elections

Measure Would Pave the Way to Overturn “Citizens United” Supreme Court Decision

By a vote of 44-25-2, the full Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Tim Eustace applying to Congress for a constitutional convention to rein in the corrupting influence of money in politics and overturn the controversial Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“A constitutional convention is clearly needed to correct the disastrous impact of recent court decisions on the integrity of elections in New Jersey and throughout the nation,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Citizens United opened the door to unlimited spending by shadowy, well-funded groups with no transparency or accountability – spending that drowns out the voice of the American voter and threatens the fundamental fairness of our democracy.”

Specifically, the resolution (ACR-149), authorizes the New Jersey Legislature apply to Congress for a convention to be called under Article V of the U.S. Constitution for the sole, specific and exclusive purpose of proposing amendments that would limit the corrupting influence of money in our political system including overturning the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and related cases.

“Numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions have frustrated the will of the American people by eroding the ability to choose political leadership,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This measure would help ensure that elections are free of the corrupting influence of excessive spending by outside interests and fair enough that any citizen can run for public office.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United determined that corporations and unions can make independent expenditures and finance electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.

“New Jersey has made its mark nationally by establishing its own laws limiting issues such as pay-to play,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Federal court decisions should continue to support the changes states have made to ensure that the will of the people, not the wealth of a corporation, guides election outcomes.”

In order for a constitutional convention to be convened by Congress, two-thirds of the states would have to make a similar application to Congress.

Once this resolution is granted final approval by the New Jersey Senate it will be transmitted to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate, each Senator and Representative from New Jersey’s congressional delegation, the Archivist of the United States and the respective clerks of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate requesting that they record this application in the published tally of state petitions for a convention of the states under Article V of the United States Constitution.