Wisconsin citizens in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.
The non-binding ballot questions were approved with overwhelming majorities in Green County (78 percent), St. Croix County (77 percent), the cities of La Crosse (88 percent), Marshfield (81 percent), Sun Prairie (83 percent), Rice Lake (81 percent), the villages of McFarland (79 percent) and Wittenberg (83 percent), and the town of Sand Creek (77 percent) in Dunn County.
To date, 129 Wisconsin communities have called for a constitutional amendment. About 3 million people — 52 percent of Wisconsinites — live in these jurisdictions.
Nationwide, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as more than 770 towns, villages, cities and counties.
Pam Knudtson from La Crosse United to Amend, a local nonpartisan group, said in a news release, “I sincerely hope that the wide margins of voter support seen over and over again in these referendums, and the strong Resolutions of support passed by municipalities like La Crosse, will start to motivate our elected representatives across the state. Voters of both parties, and independents, want them to move beyond their partisan issues and put this issue to a vote through a non-binding statewide referendum.”
Jeanette Kelty, a leader in Green County, stated, "These referenda consistently pass with amazingly high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress."
Resolutions seeking a statewide Citizens United advisory referendum have been introduced in every session of the state Legislature since 2013. The question would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
Gerry Lisi, a resident of Rice Lake, said, "We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races. Only people have a constitutional right to free speech. Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment."
Four in five Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll.
A New York Times/CBS poll found 85 percent of Americans — including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents — believe the campaign finance system must be fundamentally changed.
Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said, “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”