Recent news and notes from the movement to overturn Citizens United…
People for the American Way (YouTube Video)
Highlights of the Senate Constitution Subcommittee Hearings on Citizens United Amendments
MetroWest Daily News
State Senate passes Eldridge’s Citizens United resolution
The [Mass.] state Senate yesterday passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The constitutional amendment would restore the First Amendment and end unlimited outside spending in elections, according to the office of state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, lead sponsor of the resolution.
Thom Hartmann on Truthout.org
Chicago Is Latest City to Approve Resolution to Overturn Citizens United
The resolution, approved unanimously by the city council, states: “We, the Mayor and the members of the Chicago City Council of the City of Chicago, call upon the United States Congress to propose and send to the states for ratification a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.” Chicago now joins 280 cities and six states that have approved similar resolutions to amend the Constitution.
South Whidbey Record
Citizens ignite Island County support on 2-1 vote
The grassroots group that’s dubbed itself Citizens Ignited is celebrating another victory this week. In a 2-1 decision Monday, the Island County commissioners approved a resolution that urges Congress to prepare and send to the states for adoption a constitutional amendment that reverses the 2010 Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.
Fox-Point Bayside Patch
Abele Plans Veto of County Board’s Citizens United Referendum
The referendum refers to an oft-criticized 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, in which the court ruled that the First Amendment protected political spending by corporations and unions in elections. On Thursday, the board voted 14-4 in favor of an advisory referendum that would ask Milwaukee County residents whether they support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would essentially override the Supreme Court decision.
Ward 4 councilor Rich Clausen objected, saying he’d seen “no cohesive statement on the table. It’s a vague generality.” Brad Nanke, councilor from Ward 3, was also opposed. He said the referral was“constitutionally complex.” He also believed that the referral seemed “very political and this is supposed to be a non-partisan body.”
New York Times Magazine
How Much Has Citizens United Changed the Political Game?
Legally speaking, zillionaires were no less able to write fat checks four years ago than they are today. And while it is true that corporations can now give money for specific purposes that were prohibited before, it seems they aren’t, or at least not at a level that accounts for anything like the sudden influx of money into the system. According to a brief filed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Floyd Abrams, the First Amendment lawyer, in a Montana case on which the Supreme Court ruled last month, not a single Fortune 100 company contributed to a candidate’s super PAC during this year’s Republican primaries.
Lawrence Lessig, who also directs Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, testified that conventions of 300 randomly selected people, held in four areas of the country, could act as a citizens’ jury of how to respond in the wake of the 2010 decision. Americans will not trust Congress or a “blue ribbon” panel to do what is right, Lessig said, because they “can’t believe the institution has the capacity to change itself to deal with the core problem.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Responding to Citizens United
Scholars, citizens, and many members of Congress are increasingly concluding we cannot truly fix our badly broken system until we reverse the flawed, inherently undemocratic premise that unlimited spending in elections is merely exercising free speech. More than 275 local resolutions have passed calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the havoc it has unleashed upon our elections. Legislatures in six states – California, Maryland, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Mexico – have called on Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification, with many more having similar resolutions pending.
The defense of Citizens United rests on two primary claims about the case, one factual and one legal. Its defenders contend, first, that while Citizens United only concerned corporate election spending, the facts show that it is spending by individuals — not corporations — that counts this year. Next, they argue that, as a legal matter, individual spenders have been free to make unlimited political donations since long before Citizens United. They’re wrong on both counts.
The Bradenton Times
Understanding Citizens United
At Tuesday’s Manatee County Commission meeting, the board voted 6-1 not to support a “democracy renewal resolution” advocating a Constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United decision. Amid the debate, it became clear that most of the commissioners had no idea what Citizens United was – aside from the famed premise that it regarded a landmark ruling in which the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people and had 1st Amendment rights. Of course it’s not nearly that simple…
New York Times (opinion)
How Pensions Violate Free Speech
In its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court held that companies have a First Amendment right to make electoral expenditures with general corporate treasuries. And they’ve done so, with relish, pouring millions into the political system. What Citizens United failed to account for, however, is that a significant portion of the money that corporations are spending on politics is financed by equity capital provided by public pension funds — capital contributions that the government requires public employees to finance with their paychecks.
Former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), the American Future Fund and its affiliated PAC have filed an advisory request with the FEC that seeks clarification on the “rules on joint fundraising,” Jason Torchinsky, one of the attorneys representing the requestors, said in an e-mail. The groups gave the FEC four options to consider, two of which would allow a federal candidate’s campaign committee to team up with a super-PAC or nonprofit 501(c)(4) — or both — to create a joint fundraising committee.
The Moderate Voice
Corporate Shareholders Are Slave Owners!
You can own property, but you can’t own other people. Those who do own other people are slave owners. Those who are owned are slaves. Corporations are people, ‘persons’ or ‘natural persons’ as they are usually referred to in court. They are owned by corporate share owners. Corporations are therefore slaves and must be liberated. And doing so is the great civil rights issue of our time.
And from the opposition:
Scalia Defends Citizens United
In an interview set for broadcast on C-SPAN this Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia vigorously defended recent controversial decisions, including the 2010 Citizens Unitedcase that has been blamed for flooding election campaigns with millions of dollars in corporate donations. Asked if there is too much money in politics, Scalia said no, arguing that as in other First Amendment contexts, more speech is better.”I forget what the figures are, but I think we spend less on our presidential campaigns each year, when there’s a presidential election, than the country spends on cosmetics,” Scalia said.
The Solution to Citizens United That No One Is Talking About
Many will likely debate Bai’s analysis, but my concern is what it misses altogether: “That there are solutions we can realize at least in part in the foreseeable future.” We can move democracy forward even before a new Supreme Court majority reversing Citizens United or victory in a long battle for a constitutional amendment.