Today, a resolution calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to empower the states and Congress to create guardrails on money in politics was introduced in the Pennsylvania House with broad bipartisan support.
The resolution urges members of Congress to support the For Our Freedom Amendment – a constitutional amendment that would explicitly grant states the power to set campaign finance regulations for elections within their own borders. It is part of a bipartisan, bicameral effort in the Pennsylvania General Assembly; a Senate companion of the resolution was introduced in November.
“For years, courts have chipped away at the ability of elected officials to regulate outside political spending, finally resulting in a total constitutional prohibition,” said Rep. Ben Waxman (D-Philadelphia), who introduced the resolution. “While we retain the authority to regulate political giving directly to candidates and campaigns, courts have ruled that spending that takes place outside of that system, where disclosure rules and limits do not apply, is protected by the Constitution and therefore no legislator can seek to regulate it. We are seeing the effects of this system every cycle. Elections continue to be nationalized with tens of millions of dollars from corporate and union interests flooding into our districts from all over the country – and even the world – and shouting down the voices of our constituents.”
The 2024 election cycle puts a spotlight on the influence of money in elections. Spending is projected to exceed $10 billion this cycle, breaking the record set in 2020. 59% of Americans say reducing the influence of money in politics should be a top priority for the president and Congress to address.
According to recent polling by Franklin & Marshall, 93% of PA voters agree that the influence of money in politics is a threat to our democracy and 81% of PA voters support the amendment as a solution. There is bipartisan and bicameral support for a resolution calling for the amendment in the Pennsylvania legislature. This bipartisan support aligns with national trends. 76% of national voters voiced support for the For Our Freedom Amendment in a survey taken last year by American Promise and Citizen Data.
“Restoring faith in our electoral process is a bipartisan goal, and that’s why I’m proud to sponsor this resolution calling for a constitutional amendment,” said Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango). “I am deeply concerned about large amounts of money from outside of Pennsylvania being used to overwhelm elections in our state. It undermines self-governance and further erodes confidence in our republic.”
Current U.S. Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from setting limits on spending in campaigns and elections, which is why a constitutional amendment is necessary. Without such an amendment, any federal or state legislative solution would be preempted by the existing Supreme Court precedent. Eight of the 27 amendments so far in the United States’ Constitution corrected Supreme Court decisions that compromised the integrity and future of the republic.
“When the U.S. Supreme Court oversteps, we have an avenue of recourse that history has shown to be effective,” said Jeff Clements, CEO of American Promise. “In the most extreme cases of judicial failure, we have amended our constitution and the nation has been better for it each time. The amendment process has been used to end such egregious practices as denying women the right to vote. We can, and should, use it again to end the dark money that has polluted our entire political system.”
After being proposed by Congress, the For Our Freedom Amendment would have to be ratified by state legislatures across the country, several of which have already passed resolutions similar to the one introduced in the PA House today.
About American Promise American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to a singular vision: ratifying the For Our Freedom Amendment to empower the states and Congress to set reasonable limits on political spending, ensuring every American voice counts. Our mission has drawn support from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. Leaders from business, politics, academia, the military, and nonprofits are among our ranks, including former members of Congress and Supreme Court justices.