AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature waded into two contentious federal debates Tuesday, supporting resolutions that call for a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance ruling and urging Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The Senate passed the Citizens United resolution in a 25-9 vote and the immigration resolution 22-12.
In the House, the resolution urging reversal of Citizens United passed by a 111-31 vote. The resolution in support of immigration reform garnered 88 votes, with 55 representatives opposing the measure.
The Legislature’s endorsement of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United makes Maine the 13th state to pass a resolution calling for the change.
Sen. Richard Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth, introduced the resolution directing Maine’s congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United opinion equating campaign spending with free speech.
The ruling has opened the door to unprecedented amounts of spending and outside influence in both federal and state elections, Woodbury said.
“This is not reasoned debate of the issues. This is not respectful differences of opinion,” he said on the Senate floor. “It’s not good democracy. It’s something much closer to buying influence over government.”
Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick, D-Bangor, also spoke in favor of the resolution. No senator spoke in opposition.
In a House floor speech, Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, said, “Unions, corporations and other wealthy special interest groups should not be able to use their money to drown out the voices of the people.”
The resolution supports a proposed constitutional amendment introduced in March by independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., that would “expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the states to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.”
The immigration reform resolution supports federal legislation that “addresses earned legalization with a path to citizenship” and “improved immigration enforcement and border security that is consistent with national values.”
Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, introduced the immigration resolution in the Senate.