Find the answers to frequently asked questions about our work and our organization below. If you have a question that isn’t answered yet, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you with an answer shortly.
- What kind of organization is Citizens Take Action?
- Why is Citizens Take Action so focused on getting big money out of politics?
- Do we really need to pass a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics?
- Can’t we just wait for the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United?
- Why can’t Congress undo Citizens United?
- How do we pass a Constitutional Amendment?
- Can we actually pass a Constitutional Amendment?
- How long will it take to get an amendment passed?
- What can I do to help?
- What makes Citizens Take Action different from other groups pursuing an amendment?
- How can I get my elected officials to support the Restore Democracy amendment?
- Can I get a Citizens Take Action speaker to come to my area?
What kind of organization is Citizens Take Action?
Citizens Take Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that is committed to getting big money out of politics and inspiring greater civic engagement. You can read more about our mission here.
Why is Citizens Take Action so focused on getting big money out of politics?
We are deeply committed to getting big money out of politics because we believe that big money in politics is at the root of many other problems. When wealthy donors, corporations, unions, and special interest groups have undue influence over our political process, democracy no longer works the way it’s supposed to work at a very fundamental level. The relationship between citizens and our government is supposed to be a straightforward one:
- We elect representatives who we believe will best represent our interests.
- Our representatives pass laws that benefit our cities, states, and our country.
Big money in politics distorts that relationship. Many good people are deterred from running for office because they don’t want to raise the vast sums of money required to succeed. Since we’re bombarded with so many advertisements, messages, mailers, etc. from candidates, it’s difficult for us to truly tell which candidate, if any, will effectively represent our interests. And once in office representatives are so busy raising money for their next campaign and repaying their donors in the form of favorable legislation that they don’t necessarily do what’s in the best interests of the community as a whole.
Because big money in politics fundamentally disrupts the way our democracy is supposed to work, we must solve that problem before we solve many others. That’s why getting big money out of politics by passing the Restore Democracy Amendment is our top priority.
Do we really need to pass a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics?
Yes we do. Make no mistake, reclaiming our democracy is a formidable challenge and it will be an ongoing battle. No constitutional amendment can get big money out of politics on its own, but we cannot get big money out of politics without a constitutional amendment.
As things stand today, due to unpopular and poorly reasoned Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, big money has flooded our political system at unprecedented levels. Because the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our campaign finance laws, we can’t pass new laws to change their decisions. And we can’t sit idly by and wait for the Supreme Court to change its mind because that may take years, and even if it does happen, there’s no assurance that the Court won’t change its mind again later.
Passing a constitutional amendment is the only way to enshrine in our Constitution that corporations and unions should not have undue influence over our political process and that We The People, rather than the Supreme Court, should have the primary authority to decide our own campaign finance laws. Though passing a constitutional amendment is rare and feels almost unprecedented, it is the only tool at our disposal to protect our political process from deeply flawed Supreme Court decisions and we must not hesitate to use it.
Can’t we just wait for the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United?
No we can’t. First, some of the major problems we face today–growing income inequality, climate change, and a public that is increasingly disenchanted with the political process–are not going to take a vacation while we wait for the Supreme Court to come to its senses. We don’t know how long that will take and we can’t afford to wait.
Second, even if the Supreme Court does come to its senses and starts issuing decisions that help maintain the integrity of our democracy we don’t know if they’ll go far enough. We simply cannot count on the Supreme Court to do everything that needs to be done.
Third, and most importantly, no Supreme Court decision is permanent! Even if the Supreme Court reverses Citizens United, Buckley, McCutcheon, and every other problematic decision pertaining to campaign finance law today, there is no assurance that it won’t reverse those new decisions tomorrow. Until we pass a constitutional amendment like the Restore Democracy Amendment, our campaign finance laws will be at the mercy of the Supreme Court and we will always need to worry that one new justice or one new case can drastically impact the integrity of our democracy.
Citizens Take Action believes that our democracy is too important to leave in limbo. Passing a constitutional amendment is the most permanent way to protect the integrity of our democracy so we should take that approach rather than waiting for nine unelected justices to do our job for us.
Why can’t Congress overturn Citizens United?
Congress cannot override Supreme Court decisions since the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of our laws. However, the Founding Fathers gave us a tool to use when the Supreme Court strays too far from our core values–the constitutional amendment. We’ve used this tool before and it’s time to use it again with the Restore Democracy Amendment.
How do we pass a Constitutional Amendment?
There are two ways to pass a constitutional amendment.
Option 1: An amendment may be proposed either by a two thirds vote of both houses of Congress and ratified by either the legislatures of three fourths of the states (38 states) or by conventions in three fourths of the states (38 states), depending on which means of ratification Congress proposes.
Option 2: An amendment may be proposed via a constitutional convention convened when the legislatures of two thirds of the states (34 states) so request and ratified by either the legislatures of three fourths of the states (38 states) or by conventions in three fourths of the states (38 states), depending on which means of ratification Congress proposes.
Citizens Take Action is pursuing both options in support of the Restore Democracy Amendment because we want to put pressure on Congress and build momentum state by state until an amendment is passed.
Can we actually pass a Constitutional Amendment?
Absolutely. Throughout history Americans have mobilized time and again to pass a constitutional amendment. The 17th Amendment providing for the direct election of Senators, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, and the 18th and 21st Amendments, first prohibiting alcohol and then repealing that prohibition were all passed largely due to underlying social movements.
Although no amendment has been passed entirely through the convention route before, convention calls were used to build support for the 17th Amendment. Once Congress saw that 27 states had called for a convention on the subject of the direct election of Senators, Congress passed the amendment the people wanted. There is no reason that we cannot succeed by putting pressure directly on Congress and by utilizing state legislatures to build additional support.
How long will it take to get an amendment passed?
That depends on us. The 26th Amendment to lower the voting age passed less than two years after Oregon v. Mitchell, the Supreme Court case that inspired the amendment. Critics or cynics say it may take more than five years or even decades, but if we work together and stay focused Citizens Take Action believes that we can get an amendment passed much more quickly than that.
If we can get members of Congress to unite behind one strong proposal like the Restore Democracy Amendment we can build the momentum necessary to succeed. But we need your help. The more people who get involved and the harder we work, the sooner we will succeed. So please sign up to volunteer with Citizens Take Action or make a donation to our organization to help us reclaim our democracy!
What can I do to help?
Volunteer with Citizens Take Action. If you care about getting big money out of politics volunteering is the best way to help. Real activism happens off line–by meeting with legislators, persuading friends and family members, or organizing people within your community. If you want to help get big money out of politics then sign up to volunteer today. That’s how you become part of the solution.
What makes Citizens Take Action different from other groups pursuing an amendment?
There are many different groups pursuing a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics so we know it may be difficult to tell which group to support or if you should support more than one. But we believe Citizens Take Action is the group that is best positioned to succeed and most deserving of your support for a few primary reasons.
We Have The Best Amendment
First, our proposed amendment, the Restore Democracy Amendment, is the best proposed amendment out there. You can learn more in our Amendment Comparisons section but the basic truth is that many other proposed amendments, while written with the best of intentions, are too poorly worded or impractical to ever become a part of our Constitution.
If we are truly going to strike a major blow against big money in politics with a constitutional amendment, that amendment must be clear, powerful, and passable. We can’t propose an amendment that’s so vague we don’t really know what it would accomplish, so partisan that it could never be supported by both Republicans and Democrats, or so drastic that it would abolish all corporate constitutional rights. The Restore Democracy Amendment was created with the help of numerous experts and scholars, and was designed to succeed. So if there’s one proposed constitutional amendment you get behind, the Restore Democracy Amendment should be it.
We Are Building a Broad Coalition
Second, Citizens Take Action will attempt to find common ground and allies wherever we can. We are not a partisan organization and the Restore Democracy Amendment reflects that because it goes after big money in politics from both corporations and unions. Though we appreciate that many people may support one entity more than the other, conservatives are unlikely to support a proposal that limits corporations and not unions, while liberals are unlikely to support the opposite. Because we are truly a bipartisan organization, you can be sure that we welcome your support regardless of your political affiliation.
We Are The Real Deal
Third, we promise to respect your time and your intelligence. Citizens Take Action was formed to help make real, tangible changes to our country. We want to get big money out of politics. We want to reclaim our democracy from the corporations, unions, ultra-wealthy individuals, and other powerful special interests. And we want to reinvigorate citizenship and help others get more involved in their communities and their government. We formed to make real, tangible changes, not primarily to sustain ourselves.
What that means is that unlike other organizations, we will never have five different petitions on our website that accomplish little more than adding you to our email list. We will never pretend that we’re emailing you “important news” when we’re really just asking for your money. We will not organize protests or rallies if those events are not connected to real reform. Simply put, we are not going to waste your time.
So if you’re passionate about getting big money out of politics and reclaiming our democracy, we hope you’ll join us because we promise to treat you with the respect and dignity your deserve.
How can I get my elected officials to support the Restore Democracy amendment?
Visit our Contact Your Representative page to learn how to get your representative on board.
Can I get a Citizens Take Action speaker to come to my area?
If you are interested in having a member of Citizens Take Action speak to your organization or group, please email us at email@example.com.