Illinois General Assembly

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Full Text of SJR0027




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2    WHEREAS, The freedom of speech and other rights set forth
3in the United States Constitution are fundamental to our
4democracy; and
5    WHEREAS, Fair and free elections are essential to democracy
6and effective self-government; and
7    WHEREAS, The United States Constitution, as well as the
8Bill of Rights and further amendments, are intended to protect
9the rights of individual human beings ("natural persons");
10corporations and other artificial entities are not mentioned in
11the Constitution and the citizens of this nation have never
12granted constitutional rights to corporations and other
13artificial entities; and
14    WHEREAS, In the words of Supreme Court Justice John Paul
15Stevens, native son of the great State of Illinois, "Money is
16property; it is not speech" protected by the First Amendment,
17as stated in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Gov't PAC, 528 U.S. 377,
18398 (2000) (Stevens, J., concurring); and
19    WHEREAS, The Members of the Illinois General Assembly find
20a compelling interest in creating a level playing field and
21ensuring that all citizens, regardless of wealth, have an



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1opportunity to have their political views heard; and
2    WHEREAS, Campaign finance laws, including limits on
3campaign expenditures and contributions from any source, are
4key tools to combating political corruption; and
5    WHEREAS, The Supreme Court, in Buckley v. Valeo, held that
6the use of money to influence elections is the equivalent of
7speech and that government cannot constitutionally limit the
8amount of money that individuals can spend to influence the
9electoral process; these deeply and dangerously undemocratic
10precedents were expanded upon in Citizens United v. Federal
11Election Commission (2010) and v. Federal
12Election Commission (2010 U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit),
13unleashing a torrent of corporate and private money into our
14political process that has been unmatched by any campaign
15expenditures in United States history and drowning out the
16voices of the ordinary citizens we represent; and
17    WHEREAS, In recent decades, a divided United States Supreme
18Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool
19for corporations and other artificial entities to evade and
20invalidate democratically enacted reforms; and
21    WHEREAS, In 2012, 73% of Illinois residents, voting on
22ballot questions similar to the PRAIRIE Resolution, called for



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1a constitutional amendment, transcending party lines and
2geographic location; and
3    WHEREAS, Article V of the United States Constitution
4empowers the people and states of the United States of America
5to use the constitutional amendment process to correct those
6egregiously wrong decisions of the United States Supreme Court
7that go to the heart of our democracy and republican form of
8government; therefore, be it
11CONCURRING HEREIN, that we, as elected representatives of the
12people, respectfully but emphatically disagree with the
13aforementioned decisions of the United States Supreme Court and
14call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the
15states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn
16Citizens United v. FEC, v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo,
17and other related cases that allow for unlimited election
18spending; and be it further
19    RESOLVED, That such an amendment should make clear that the
20rights of persons protected by the Constitution are the rights
21of natural persons and not those of corporations or other
22artificial entities; and be it further



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1    RESOLVED, That such an amendment should make clear that
2money can facilitate speech but its use is not, in and of
3itself, speech within the meaning of the First Amendment, and
4can be regulated; and be it further
5    RESOLVED, That such an amendment should make clear that
6corporations and other artificial entities are subject to
7regulation by the people through the legislative process, so
8long as the regulations are consistent with the powers of
9Congress and the states and do not limit freedom of the press;
10and be it further
11    RESOLVED, That such an amendment should make clear that
12federal, state, and local governments shall have the power to
13require disclosure of, limit, and regulate all election
14contributions and expenditures, whether to candidates or
15ballot measures, including political contributions and
16expenditures from individuals, corporations, unions, political
17committees, other artificial entities, and candidates; and be
18it further
19    RESOLVED, That we state our belief that such a
20constitutional amendment supports the goals of the people of
21Illinois in achieving a level playing field in election
22expenditures, regardless of their source; and be it further



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1    RESOLVED, That the Illinois congressional delegation is
2urged to propose a joint resolution offering such an amendment
3to the United States Constitution and to work diligently to
4bring such a joint resolution to a vote and passage, including
5use of discharge petitions, cloture, and every other procedural
6method to secure a vote and passage; and be it further
7    RESOLVED, That the individual Members of the Illinois
8General Assembly are encouraged to ratify such an amendment to
9the United States Constitution that is consistent with the
10policy of the State of Illinois as herein declared; and be it
12    RESOLVED, That we call upon other states and jurisdictions
13to join with us in this action by enacting similar resolutions
14to secure the restoration of constitutional rights and fair
15elections to the people of Illinois and all citizens of the
16United States; and be it further
17    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
18delivered to each member of the Illinois congressional
19delegation, the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the United
20States House of Representatives, and the Majority Leader and
21Minority Leader of the United States Senate.