Senator Ed Markey, Faith Organizations Mark 10 Year Anniversary of Citizens United Ruling

For Immediate Release: January 16, 2020
Contact: Lee Morrow, [email protected], 202-601-7871

Senator Ed Markey, Faith Organizations Mark 10 Year Anniversary of Citizens United Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Ed Markey joined interfaith leaders at “10 Years of Citizens United: Vigil to Restore A Faithful Democracy” in front of the U.S. Capitol to mark and lament the current state of politics and to call for a renewal of our democracy by ending the outsized influence of money in our political system.

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said:

“In the decade since SCOTUS’ misguided Citizens United ruling we have seen a deluge of undisclosed and unlimited dark money flow unimpeded into our election campaigns.  In 2020, we are witnessing the moral consequences of this chokehold of money on our politics.  Wealthy donors and special interests are controlling the political conversation and freezing out low wage workers, families in poverty and struggling communities of color. My faith is clear: corporations are not people and money is not speech.  Pope Francis calls us to create a “Politics that must not be subject to the economy.” We need to change the law to ensure that we have a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said:

“In Deuteronomy, we learn, ‘You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take gifts, for gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just.’

As the 10th anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision fast approaches, we mourn what has become of American democracy. Increasingly, our elections are financed by the few who can afford to make multimillion-dollar contributions. In 2016, the top 100 individual donors contributed nearly $1 billion to candidates, parties, and political action committees. Still, we pray for our democracy’s restoration and rejuvenation. It is our plea to Congress to pass legislation to ensure our political system reflects the interests of all Americans, not just those who can afford to participate. Only then will we truly be able to answer the “plea of the just.”

Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director, Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said:

“By striking down campaign finance reform and limits to personal and corporate spending, the Supreme Court has allowed a small number of donors to have an undue impact on the outcome of elections. This is reflective of a pattern of economic inequality, which gives a stronger voice to the wealthy while minimizing the voice of the poor. Additionally, this keeps the voices of people of color from impacting the political discourse and process as historically, people of color have been economically oppressed and excluded from the political arena. In 2016, the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), took a stand opposing laws and rulings that allow the spending of corporations and other private enterprises to be considered free speech as such law and rulings monetize our government.”

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life said:

“Ten years after Citizens United, an end to the corruption is overdue. As a follower of Jesus and an American, I believe that our elected officials cannot serve both democracy and money. Lawmakers must decide if big money or robust democracy will be their guiding force. Corruption convinces people that their votes don’t matter, but we know that isn’t true. Together, we can slam the doors in the face of big money and put everyday people first.”

Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, director of partnership relations, Alliance of Baptists said:

“For ten years we have lived with the idolatry of corporations being given the right of free speech. Enough! Let us end this obscene charade where a profit making entity is treated like it is an actual human being. Our creator endows persons with rights, and with these rights, we can ensure a just society. Let’s end this idolatry of corporate personhood and restore our democracy.”

Rev. Reuben Eckels, Policy Advocate, Church World Service said:

“Citizens United is the principle obstacle that seeks to subdue and drowned out the people’s voice, yes, our right to vote! James Weldon Johnson reminds us in his song “Lift every voice and Sing” that when we lift our voice it will be heard across the world. The people united can never be defeated and that is why we must overturn Citizens United by lifting
‘every voice and sing
Till earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as The list’ning skies,
let it resound loud as the Rolling sea'”

Stephen Schneck, PhD, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network said:

“The Gospel of Matthew tells us that we can not serve God and money. For the last ten years, the golden calf of big money has infiltrated our politics and defiled our democracy. Pope Francis calls us to “meddle in politics” and so, as we interpret this concept to ensure all Americans share an equal say in the public square, we rally to say end Citizens United.”

Wardah Khalid, Founder & President, Poligon Education Fund said:

“In the Islamic faith tradition, the principles of democracy: freedom, equality, pluralism and social justice are encouraged. Ten years ago, the Citizens United ruling stripped away some of those key principles. As we approach the 2020 elections, we hope to restore trust and faith in our democracy by advocating for the right to vote and equal access to the ballot. We are proud to be joining our faith community and call to renew our democracy at this Vigil.”

Aquene Freechild, Campaign Co-Director, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign and policy advisor to Faithful Democracy said:

“Citizens United runs against the great promise of American democracy, of self-determination and equal right to representation. The person rationing insulin because of its cost, the mother grieving a child lost to gun violence or a family watching their home burned by wildfires is reduced not only by their struggle, but by their feeling of powerlessness against the enormous lobbies that silence their elected representatives. We join faith leaders in calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. We’re not going to back down.”

Sandy Sorenson, Director of Washington Office, United Church of Christ said:

“Scripture speaks continually about the call to seek justice – especially for those on the margins of society, those with little voice or power in the public sphere.  The prophets decry those who “sell the righteous for silver and push the afflicted out of the way” (Amos 2:6-7).  Ten years after the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, we have seen the unchecked flood of money into the electoral process drown out the voices of the poor and marginalized in our elections.  As people of faith, we recognize the responsibility of government to seek justice for all people and to build the common good.  Justice cannot be achieved unless the rules governing the democratic process are just and fair to all.  Central to that process is a citizen’s free vote – not limited by the powers of money, social class and unequal access to media. It is time to restore integrity to our democratic process and undo the damage done by Citizens United.”


NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. They have a nearly 50-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good.