Since high court has long record of low points, progress is in people’s hands

Jan. 21 marks the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Jan. 21 marks the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.Mark Wilson

The Supreme Court has a long history of suppressing democracy (“Chief Justice Roberts is no defender of democracy,” Renée Graham, Ideas, Jan. 5), and we the people have an equally long history of amending the Constitution to expand democracy.

In 1857, the court’s notorious Dred Scott decision upheld slavery. It took a bloody Civil War and three constitutional amendments to extend citizenship and voting rights to former slaves.

In 1875, the court denied women the right to vote, a decision overturned 45 years later by the 19th Amendment.

In 1937, the court upheld poll taxes, effectively disenfranchising millions of voters during the Depression. The 24th Amendment overturned that antidemocratic decision.


In 1970, the court ruled that 18-year-olds could not vote in state and local elections. Just one year later, the 26th Amendment extended voting rights to citizens old enough to serve in the military.

Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s antidemocratic Citizens United v. FEC decision, which opened the floodgates to big money in politics and transformed our democracy into an oligarchy of multinational corporations and billionaires. It’s high time for a 28th Amendment to ensure political equality for all Americans.

Paul Lauenstein