On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with a final vote on a joint resolution to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision.
The 79 to 18 vote to end debate and move on to a final vote on the measure included 25 "yes" votes from Republicans. However, The Hill reports, many of the GOP Senators are expected to vote against the resolution, "but by allowing it to proceed [they] ensured that it will tie up the Senate for most of the week." The Senate, which just returned from its 5-week summer recess on Monday, is in session for just two weeks before breaking for mid-term elections. A vote on the resolution may help to run out the clock on other Democratic priorities before the next recess.
Citizens United, as we wrote just after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision, has "opened the door to the creation of a new master-class under the aegis of the most undemocratic of institutions --- the private corporation." In fact, it has proven to have opened the floodgates for would be oligarchs, like the self-described "libertarian" Koch brothers, to further undermine the very foundation of our representative form of democracy --- a strategy that has resulted in their spending as much as $300 million to win control of the U.S. Senate for Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections alone.
"We should have debate on this important amendment," Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) declared before casting his vote for cloture, in order to end the debate on Monday. "The majority should be made to answer why they want to silence critics."
One Republican Senator who voted against cloture, who is apparently not even in favor of allowing the U.S. Senate to vote on the measure, is Kentucky's Rand Paul. The similarly "self-described libertarian" Paul, who is not up for re-election this year, but is currently a front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination for President, joined a minority of his GOP colleagues in voting against allowing the proposed amendment to receive an up or down vote. That vote, as well as his past efforts to shield corporations from democratic and legal accountability, underscore once again that the Kentucky Senator and the infamous Koch brothers are cut from the same cloth.
As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a co-sponsor of the amendment, observed, the measure entails the "major issue of our time": to wit, "whether the United States of America retains its democratic foundation or whether we devolve into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires are able to control our political process by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who represent their interest."
If it's up to Rand Paul, clearly he favors the latter.
Monday's vote is also a reminder that the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections are far more important than ordinary citizens may realize. The long-shot resolution, S.J. Res 19, would require two-thirds approval in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before moving on for ratification as an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by three-quarters of the state legislatures. Given that extraordinary requirement, those voters who may oppose unlimited "dark money" political spending by corporations and billionaires would have to ignore a blizzard of Koch propaganda this year and vote Democratic or independent candidates into control of both chambers of Congress in order for the Amendment to become a reality.