More than 100 democracy reform organizations are making another attempt at convincing Congress to take action to limit the influence of big money in politics.
A letter signed by 123 organizations was sent to members of the House of Representatives on Thursday, urging them to cosponsor a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to limit how much can be raised and spent to influence elections. Some of the organizations include American Promise, Common Cause, End Citizens United Action Fund, the NAACP, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG and Wolf-PAC.
If successful, this amendment would effectively undo the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which uncapped campaign finance limits.
Currently, 139 House members — all Democrats and one lone Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York — have backed the amendment proposal. But the resolution has remained in committee since it was introduced in January.
Exultant crusaders against partisan gerrymandering are vowing to hold North Carolina politicians' feet to the fire until the state's legislative maps are drawn more fairly — while also looking beyond the borders. They are hailing a state court's redistricting decision as a landmark ruling with the potential to benefit their cause across the country.
Just 10 weeks ago, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution provides no opening for challenges in the federal courts to even the most brazenly partisan mapmaking. But in a dramatic reversal of fortune for political cartographers — and not just in North Carolina — a bipartisan panel of three judges in Raleigh ruled unanimously Tuesday that the state House and state Senate lines are so contorted to favor Republicans that they violate a broad array of Democratic voters' rights under the state's constitution.
The GOP leaders in the state capital, who have been contesting almost a dozen different anti-gerrymandering lawsuits (some successfully alleging racial motivation) while hoping to keep their district lines intact, announced they were at last conceding defeat. Rather than appeal to the state's top court — a long-shot prospect given its lopsided Democratic majority — they said they would get to work on new maps right away.
"Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state's institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point," said Phil Berger, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate. "It's time to move on."
Eighteen groups promoting democracy reform sent a letter Tuesday to Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, asking for a presidential debate focused on the candidates' democracy reform plans.
"Whether it comes to addressing our climate crisis, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, ending gun violence, or any other issue Democratic candidates have been talking about on the campaign trail, the role of a healthy democracy in achieving those ends is undeniable," the letter states.
The groups who signed the letter are: Brennan Center for Justice, The Center for Popular Democracy, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy 21, The Democratic Coalition, End Citizens United, Equal Citizens, Indivisible, New American Leaders, New American Leaders Action Fund, New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, Voices for Progress and Wolf-PAC.
This story has been revised after additional reporting.
Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.
To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.