New League Positions on Campaign Finance, Constitutional Amendment

Over the past year, Leagues across the country participated in two national studies: the Constitutional Amendment Study and the Money in Politics study. The two studies have led to new national positions based on the input of local and state Leagues.

The Constitutional Amendment study led to two positions, on considerations for evaluating Constitutional amendment proposals, which you can read here, and on safeguards to govern the Constitutional convention process, here.

The Money in Politics study led to a position calling for specific actions and setting long-term goals to get big money out of the political process. You can read that position here.

In Massachusetts, a steering committee for the studies gave Leagues support and encouraged multi-League events. We thank that committee for its efforts and all of the local Leagues which submitted consensus reports.

Money in Politics (Announced April 2016)

Twenty Massachusetts Leagues participated in the Money in Politics study, part of 335 nationwide: Amherst, Arlington, Acton Area, Brookline, Cape Ann Area, Cape Cod Area, Concord-Carlisle, Grafton, Hamilton-Wenham, Marblehead, Needham, Newton, Northampton Area, Norwood, Sudbury, Waltham, Weston, Westwood-Walpole-Dedham, Williamstown and Winchester. Two Massachusetts members served on the national study committee, Launa Zimmaro from LWV Concord-Carlisle and Corlette Moore McCoy from LWV Needham.

In part, the position calls for:

  • Full public financing of Congressional as well as Presidential elections.
  • Abolishing Super PACs and spending coordinated or directed by candidates.
  • Restrictions on direct donations and bundling by lobbyists.

In addition to the traditional reason for campaign finance regulation – preventing corruption and undue influence in government – the League now supports several other goals, including:

  • Enhance political equality for all citizens.
  • Protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns.
  • Provide voters sufficient information about candidates and campaign issues to make informed choices.
  • Ensure transparency and the public’s right to know who is using money to influence elections.
  • Enable candidates to compete equitably for public office.

Constitutional Amendment (Announced February 2016)

Fifteen Massachusetts Leagues joined 246 nationwide in the Constitutional Amendment Study. Congratulations and thanks to the Leagues that submitted a consensus report: Acton Area, Amherst, Arlington, Cape Cod Area, Concord-Carlisle, Falmouth, Marblehead, Needham, Newton, Northampton Area, Norwood, Sudbury, Wellesley, Westwood-Walpole-Dedham and Winchester.

The LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study has led to two separate national positions:

Considerations for Evaluating Constitutional Amendment Proposals: The League will only support a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution if it advances and conforms to an LWVUS position.

In addition, the League believes the following should be considered in identifying an appropriate and well-crafted Constitutional amendment:

  • Whether the public policy objective addresses matters of such acute and abiding importance that the fundamental charter of our nation must be changed.
  • Whether the amendment as written would be effective in achieving its policy objective. Amendments that may be unenforceable, miss the objective, or have unintended consequences may not achieve the policy objective.
  • Whether the amendment would either make our political system more democratic or protect individual rights.
  • Whether the public policy objective can be achieved by a legislative or political approach that is less difficult than a Constitutional amendment.
  • Whether the public policy objective is more suited to a Constitutional and general approach than to a statutory and detailed approach.

Final Position Constitutional Conventions under Article V of the US Constitution: The League is concerned that there are many unresolved questions about the powers and processes of an Article V Constitutional Convention. The League believes such a convention should be called only if the following conditions are in place:

  • The Constitutional Convention must be transparent and not conducted in secret. The public has a right to know what is being debated and voted on.
  • Representation at the Constitutional Convention must be based on population rather than one state, one vote, and delegates should be elected rather than appointed.
  • Voting at the Constitutional Convention must be by delegate, not by state.
  • The Constitutional Convention must be limited to a specific topic.
  • Only state resolutions on a single topic count when determining if a Constitutional Convention should be called.
  • The validity of state calls for an Article V Constitutional Convention must be determined by the most recent action of the state.