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Citizens United

A Wisconsin coalition announced an effort to overturn the Citizens United decision, including a resolution in the Legislature. PHOTO BY JESSIE OPOIEN

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, a group of activists, interest groups and lawmakers is leading a push within Wisconsin to overturn the court's decision. 

Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, will introduce a resolution calling for a statewide advisory referendum on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and unions to make political campaign contributions. 

Similar resolutions have passed in 54 communities throughout Wisconsin, including some traditionally conservative ones. That speaks to the point, advocates said, that it's not a partisan issue.

But an Assembly resolution introduced by Hansen and Rep. Chris Taylor, D- Madison, last year, was never given a hearing. 

Subeck said she hopes her Republican colleagues will listen to their constituents on the issue, noting that the ballot initiatives passed with 70-80 percent of votes in most communities.

The amendment would stipulate that "only human beings ... are endowed with constitutional rights" and that "money is not speech."

Overturning Citizens United is just the first step in limiting the influence of money in politics, said Dana Schultz on behalf of the Money Out, Voters In - Wisconsin coalition.

Schultz announced the launch of a coalition aimed at addressing the issue, formed by interest groups throughout the state. Our Democracy 2020 will promote nonpartisan redistricting reform and voting rights efforts in addition to the effort to overturn Citizens United.

"This isn't a Republican or Democratic issue. Across the board, citizens of all political stripes support overturning Citizens United and getting big money out of politics," Subeck said, pointing to the referendum votes in Waueksha, Menasha, Madison and Milwaukee in particular.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

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