WashPIRG marks anniversary of Citizens United decision

Members of WashPIRG’s UW chapter stamped the cash of UW students Tuesday afternoon in acknowledgment of the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The stamps, which read, “Stamp money of out of politics, amend the constitution,” were intended to oppose the controversial Supreme Court decision of 2010, in which the court held that the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from restricting political spending by corporations in candidate elections, while raising awareness of the efforts being made to challenge it.

“It’s not a healthy system,” said UW chapter vice chair Ming Siwadune. “We want people to be more aware of politics and its financial systems and burdens.”

In addition to getting their bills stamped, UW students were invited to sign an appeal to Congress to act against Citizens United. The event was part of an ongoing nationwide series of events on and off college campuses. Groups like WashPIRG partner with Stamp Stampede, a nonprofit headed by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fame, to create events with custom stamps, posters, and informational flyers.

The goal of the project, apart from raising awareness, is to amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

“I think that there are a lot of nonsensical policies in place as of now that are harmful to the essence of our democracy,” said Christian Zerbel, a UW student who signed the appeal. “And a big chunk of that is just the sheer amount of money that is not only allowed in but encouraged to participate. And that’s not how I want to be represented.”

Currently, 16 states have already voted in favor of an amendment that would overturn Citizens United. According to StampStampede.org, more than 20 senators and 100 congressmen have signed in support of an amendment.

“There should be a cap on how much special interests should be allowed to spend in elections, and it should be transparent,” said WashPIRG campus organizer Toni Bellante. “The idea is to remind people that there’s still something we can do. It’s not unrealistic but it’s a lot of hard work. You have to go state by state to make it work.”

Reach reporter Holly Thorpe at [email protected]Twitter: @HollyiThorpe