The U.S. Constitution hasn't seen an amendment successfully ratified since 1992, but a group of local activists may push a referendum on November ballots that would serve notice that voters think it's time for another change.
Move to Amend is a national organization that has at least six active regional affiliates in Illinois. The groups formed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in a case commonly referred to as Citizens United. The decision struck down spending limits imposed on corporations that contribute to political campaigns.
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Move to Amend wants to change the Constitution to invalidate that ruling.
Steve Bruesewitz, member of the Move to Amend Kane County group, believes the Citizens United decision is a severe blow to democracy.
"The Supreme Court has misread the Constitution to say that corporations are people and that money is speech," Bruesewitz said. "Just think about the influence of money in politics. Look at what it's done to Illinois. On the presidential level, one guy, Sheldon Adelson, imposed himself in the Republican (primary) race and basically, single-handedly, funded Newt Gingrich's campaign with a $10 million donation. Maybe you think Newt Gingrich is a great guy, but for one person to have that kind of influence in a campaign, that kind of power, that's a plutocracy, rule by the wealthy."
Bruesewitz, like many members of Move to Amend Kane County, were active members in the local Democratic Party before signing on to the cause. Various Move to Amend affiliates have formed informal alliances with local Occupy Wall Street groups. Indeed, the DuPage Coffeehouse Move to Amend Group banded together with Occupy Naperville to successfully place a nonbinding referendum question on the Citizens United issue on the November ballot in Lisle Township.
Bruesewitz said the topic has created some strange bedfellows in Kane County. Republicans aren't flocking to Move to Amend Kane County to help pass the petitions, but GOP members are signing the petitions in support of the cause, Bruesewitz said.
"Money corrupts a lot of things, and you don't see too many people who disagree with that on either side of the aisle," he said. "Politicians don't like spending their time constantly raising money. It's demeaning and time consuming."
Getting a referendum question on the Kane County ballot isn't easy. It'll take 12,000 valid signatures for the effort to be successful. That compares to the 600 needed to run for Congress as a Republican in the new 11th Congressional District. So far, Move to Amend Kane County has 1,200 signatures.
Move to Amend Kane County meets about every three weeks at the First Congregational Church of Geneva, 321 Hamilton St. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. More information is available at www.movetoamendkane.org.