Is it legal to crowdfund US federal legislation? Like a prize for whoever proposed a law that gets enacted that brings back the protections for those seeking abortions?

One way to fix the Roe vs Wade overturning is to make an amendment to the constitution. Can we crowd source a cash reward for an amendment?

I assume lobbying laws are complicated and might ban this sort of thing outright. Do they?

PS I found this related but California specific question: Crowdfunding citizen legislation?

4 Answers 4


The First Amendment protects your right to financially support whatever viewpoint you want to express, which can include supporting law-making. However, various laws prevent you from paying elected officials to act in a particular way, therefore a financial reward for a "yes" vote or a "no" vote on an issue would be illegal. If the offer (to Congressmen / legislators) is "vote yes on this and we will give you $100,000", that is prohibited.

Your proposal seems to be for a constitutional amendment enacted under Art V, which means that the House and Senate have both adopted the amendment as a joint resolution, such as this one, or this one which was actually passed. This is the resolution that sent the ERA to the states. It is reported that Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman wrote the ERA in the 20's – they were not in the House or Senate. Your proposal would need to distinguish authorship from "being the one to introduce".

It would probably be illegal to pay a Senator / Representative to bring a resolution to the floor; it would not be illegal to pay an individual to write a law. It is not clear whether you would have to excludes members of Congress from being said author's, and the probability is zero that the original author's text would be adopted without modification (i.e. you'd have to come up with a "profit-sharing" plan). It is also unclear what legal actions could be take against you for collecting money for a clearly unattainable purpose (identifying "the unique person who write the text").

  • To clarify, however, one could make donations to campaign funds for particular legislators, although simple "crowdfunding" might violate campaign finance laws.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 27, 2022 at 19:18

So the problem here is that Citizen Legislation (also known as a referendum) is an element of direct democracy which is present in some form in all 50 states in the United States... but it's not present at the Federal Level at all. In most states, the barriers to Citizen Legislation is a high one, though certain states are more accommodating than others (As a rule, the further west you go on the lower 48, the more open to direct democracy a state becomes). Typically you would have to show that a percentage of voting citizens (usually a percentage of the number of people who participated in the last election) want this law on the ballot (not support it mind you... there are people who don't care about the law one way or the other, but will support what the voting public says about it on referendum.). Then it has to pass a majority vote of a set threshold.

The U.S. Constitution is set to a very "representative democracy" approach and can be seen in how little the citizens have the ability to directly elect government officials (In modern day, you can directly elect your representative and both senators. Historically, Senators were indirectly elected by the State Legislatures but this was found to be more frustrating than popular elections because the State Legislatures were prone to bickering over who to elect, leaving vacant seats in the Senate with no ability to fill them.). The President and Vice President have always been indirectly elected (by the Electoral College), the cabinet is always appointed by the president, and the Supreme Court is also Presidential Appointment.

Even jobs that's state or local level equivelent are not direct elections in the United States. For example, U.S. Marshal's local level equivelent are Sheriffs, which with rare exception are elected officials. But the Marshal's are appointed by the President.

Suffice to say, the only way to get federal legislation passed is... by calling your Reps and Senators. To get an amendment to the constitution to legalize it, you need 2/3rds of both houses of congress and 3/4ths of all states to pass the amendment. Good luck with that.



Any direct payment to a legislator for introducing or passing any bill, including a proposed constitutional amendment, would be the crime of bribery. Accepting a bribe is also a crime.


You seem to forget the purpose of the Law: to make a better world. When people give up their freedom because they are intimidated by the Law, they give up America and they give up the ideals of civilization itself. The Law should never be considered perfect enough to defer to give up your own pursuits of "life, liberty, and the purpose of happiness" (T. Jefferson).

To my knowledge, no one has ever tried crowdsourcing legislation, which would be an interesting experiment in direct democracy. As the crowd must be willing to support it for the funding to materialize and the crowd is able to fund an opposing view equally, it should not be considered unfair. Someone might argue that it circumvents Constitutional order, yet the President must still be willing to pass the bill into Law.

The only problem I see from it from a Humane perspective is that money hasn't been fairly allocated in our existing society, but distributed to those who exploited power or property (oil reserves, for example) more than others -- not exactly fair and just. But the only solution to this problem is Leadership and the Press, not Legislation.


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