Recent news and notes from the movement to overturn Citizens United…
Move to Amend
From Massachusetts to Oregon, Colorado to Illinois and Wisconsin, and Ohio to California, citizens throughout the country voted overwhelmingly yesterday for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.
Fresh off some overwhelming victories at the ballot box in Montana and Colorado, proponents of a constitutional amendment have some wind in our sails…These victories may mark a turning point for the issue that ironically may lead to a new onslaught of opposition. As Mahatma Gandhi noted, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” We will soon move from the stage of ridicule to fight, which means that to be taken seriously supporters of an amendment to roll back the encroachments of the Supreme Court upon self government must now begin answering some serious questions.
The Young Turks Network
93% of the time in Congress, the candidate with more money wins the election, across the Republican and Democratic parties. People, policies, or parties aren’t the determining factores in these elections; it’s money. Corporate corruption is what has broken this system. Listen in to hear legislative proposals to get money out of politics and end corporate personhood. This cause is very important, and the core goal of the Wolf PAC, which Cenk created.
Read more from Money Out, Voters In: http://www.moneyoutvotersin.org/
truthdig: drilling beneath the headlines
Speaking in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15 at a Federalist Society convention dinner, Alito delighted an estimated throng of 1,500 with a self-righteous defense of the court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which overturned decades of federal campaign finance law, ushered in a new era of corporate personhood and unleashed an orgy of political spending through super PACs and thinly regulated nonprofit organizations. Rebutting criticisms of the decision leveled by many liberals, lawyers and the president, Alito praised Citizens United as a common-sense ruling that merely extended the same First Amendment rights to corporations that had been long accorded to individuals, newspapers and media companies. “Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices,” he declared, “should be disturbing to anybody who believes in free speech.” (See TAG piece here.)
People for the American Way
The Citizens United ruling and related decisions by this Supreme Court have dismantled decades of carefully crafted laws that protected the interests of individual voters by limiting the power of corporations and wealthy individuals to influence elections. The vast spending by Super PACs and other organizations created to take advantage of this new reality gave corporations and the wealthiest Americans an unprecedented ability to influence and sometimes dominate races at all levels. Those moneyed interests will start sooner, go bigger, and be even more relentless in 2014 and 2016 and forever until the Citizens United decision is either overturned by the Court or reversed by a constitutional amendment, which President Obama has endorsed.
The Huffington Post
The amendment proposed by movetoamend.org is representative of the suggestions that have been offered. It is composed of three clauses: 1) a corporation is not a person; 2) money is not speech and can be regulated; and 3) this amendment does not abridge freedom of the press. (3)
A major problem however exists in this regard. For the plain fact is that curbing political expenditures or contributions does limit expression. Engaging in political speech requires money, and free speech is at issue when there are regulations imposed on the use of money to support a candidate or a point of view. There may be good reasons to regulate. But there is also a civil libertarian cost to regulation.
It’s true that Citizens United strengthened First Amendment protections for corporations. But the basis for that protection isn’t corporate personhood. Rather, the court’s decision rests on two other assumptions:
- That money equals speech; and
- That non-persons have the right to speech.
That second point is the kicker. If corporate personhood ended tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect Citizens United at all, because non-persons have speech rights now too. If your underpants could talk, they would be protected by the First Amendment.