Jeff Clements: We the People v. Citizens United

Citizens United is catastrophic in itself but the problem runs deeper.

Citizens United is the most extreme extension of a concerted, well-funded campaign for “corporate rights” that has been building for decades.

With increasing aggressiveness, corporations have persuaded activist courts to rewrite the First Amendment to include “corporate speech,” not just human speech. Corporations now use this twisted theory to demolish public laws that stand in the path of corporate profit.

–Jeff Clements Continue reading

A case for principled conservatives to support an amendment

excerpts from “Abolish Corporate Personhood” blog; read the full text here.

There are many reasons why a principled conservative would want to have the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision reversed by abolishing corporate personhood and ending the doctrine that money is a form of speech. Whereas an unprincipled conservative will put the interests of corporations (property) ahead of the interests of citizens no matter what the consequences, a principled conservative would be concerned about the common good of the Republic.

Conservative Reasons to Abolish Corporate Constitutional Rights

The American Revolution was explicitly anti-corporate, and the revolutionaries made sure that corporations were tightly controlled.
The word corporation does not occur in the Constitution. Corporations had to use unelected, unaccountable judges to give them rights.

According to Thomas Jefferson, judges, who grant corporations rights, are “playing God” because he claimed in the Declaration of Independence that men — not property — are “ordained by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Judge-made law is not democratic. We did not elect the Supreme Court justices, but they get to decide who does and does not count in our democratic order. Congress and the People should decide those issues.

This is not about opposing business or capitalism, and we recognize that corporations play an important role in society. Continue reading

How does Citizens United affect our town?

The text below is excerpted from Public Citizen; PDF of full document can be seen here.

The federal impact of Citizens United is well publicized, but it is also important to understand the effect this ruling has on local towns and cities throughout the nation.

Corporate Spending Can Have an Even Greater Impact Locally

The egregious levels of outside spending on the federal level are well documented. In the 2010 Congressional elections, spending by corporations and wealthy individuals totaled almost $300 million.

The super-rich are dominating the 2012 election cycle, with over one-third of all contributions to Super PACs coming from just ten individuals. In comparison to these mammoth sums of money, it only takes a modest amount of money to have a transformative impact on a local election.

If multi-million dollar Super-PACs can buy the victory of even presidential candidates,

then what’s stopping them from influencing local political elections?

Consider This: In the April 2012 elections for Oklahoma City Council the Super-PAC “Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum” spent $400,000 on four candidates. The annual salary for an Oklahoma City Council member is $12,000 annually. Three of these four candidates won their campaigns. The only candidate who was able to defeat one of these Super Pac candidates noted deep concerns he saw with the democratic implications of a Super-PAC spending large sums on campaign ads without disclosing its donors.

Or This: Durham County in North Carolina is also experiencing the effects of SuperPACs. The SuperPAC “Durham Partnership for Progress” – funded by a developing firm – spent thousands of dollars on a mailer supporting four council people who support a controversial development project the that the firm, Southern Durham Development, plans to build. The SuperPAC’s support helped elect two of those council people into office in elections held on May 8, 2012.

Click here to read more from this information sheet from Public Citizen.

Needham Citizens Tell Town Meeting: Vote YES on Article 23

As part of our preparation to present our citizens petition to Town Meeting, we asked Needham residents to weigh in. At a small number of community gatherings (including LWV Candidates’ night) and online, over 100 people signed their names in support of passing Article 23.

Town Meeting Members, these are comments from your constituents:

We need to do all we can to eliminate Super PACS. Thank you.

Thanks for doing this.

The US is teetering toward democracy and welfare for the corporations and very rich–with the rest of us left in the dust.

We need to restore some sanity and some equanimity to the election process. This is a first step–let’s take it together.

Free speech belongs to the citizenry.  A corporate entity does not enjoy the same rights as citizens and should not be given this overwhelming financial advantage over each individual voter.

In a democratic republic, politicians should serve the people – all the people, not just the highest bidder.  Corruption is bad enough without letting businesses looking for favors fund candidates to do their bidding; or worse, pay off both sides with funds to ensure they can’t lose.

Since Congress won’t take action, the people need to. This is one of the most important issues of our time. Thanks for doing this.

A terrible hurt has been thrust upon the public by the indefencible decision made by our Supreme Court-it’s a licence to buy elections for those with the most money.

Corporations are not citizens because their decisionmakers’ first loyalty is to their shareholders’ interests, not those of the nation, even if those interests conflict.  If they were citizens, they would be traitors. Corporation members already have the rights and responsibilities of citizens as individuals; they should have no added power to influence public affairs as corps. Incorporation protects them from personal accountability for their actions as a corp. No accountability, no rights.

Town Meeting is my voice, representing real people–not corporations. Let’s use the people’s voice –Town Meeting–to return our democracy back to the people!

I fully agree with the warrant article. 

Town Meeting Members can request the list of names by emailing WethePeopleNeedham@gmail.com. Continue reading

‘Tea Party’ and ‘Occupy’ Join Together to Protect Free Speech

As we reported earlier this month, Waffle House executive and Georgia state senator Don Balfour is pushing a bill, SB469, that would prohibit picketing outside private residences, a law that would’ve put the Founding Fathers themselves in jail. The law is being pushed with the help of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Corporate America, and is primarily targeted at labor unions.

Now, Georgia’s Tea Partiers have joined the occupiers and labor unions in battling against Corporate America’s war on free speech. On Monday, the Atlanta Tea Party sent a message to its 50,000-person list opposing the bill. One of its main activists, Debbie Dooley, also testified against it in the state legislature.

Labor unions have First Amendment rights just like Tea Parties,” Dooley told Salon. “I don’t see how you can say it’s OK for one group to go and protest in front of CNN but a labor union can’t.”

The alliance between occupiers, tea partiers, and union members in Georgia against this corporate assault on the First Amendment is a promising sign that Americans of all ideologies are waking up and fighting back against the capture of our democracy by monied interests.

Republic Report, March 2012