Ned Rightor, Needham resident

Corporations’ first loyalty is to their shareholders’ interests, not our nation–even if those interests conflict.

If corporations were people, they would be traitors.

Members of a corporation as individuals already have the rights and responsibilities of citizens; they should have no added power to influence public affairs.

–Ned Rightor, Needham resident, from our petition

Citizens United opens super PAC attack on their peers– you and me

Citizens of the United States have the right to speak from their soap boxes, or buy TV ads for their voices to be heard in the free marketplace of ideas during political elections.

But most of us

can’t afford

to buy TV ads.

With their special ability to amass enormous amounts of wealth, corporations now have a lopsided advantage to advance their interests.

Daily Sundial op-ed, Feb 2012

News: “High court agrees to consider corporate free speech post-Citizen United”

 the corporations said the Montana ban was in violation of their rights, as determined by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which asserts that Corporations have same speech rights as people.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider taking another bite of the corporate political free speech apple recently, accepting a petition asking justices to summarily overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision petitioners [2 Montana corporations] say flies in the face of Citizens United.

In upholding a ban on corporate independent expenditures in state elections, the Montana justices determined that “unlike Citizens United, this case concerns Montana law, Montana elections and it arises from Montana history.”

Liberty and Justice for Some

That ruling, the petition said, raises the question for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider: “Whether Montana is bound by the holding of Citizens United, that a ban on corporate independent political expenditures is a violation of the First Amendment, when the ban applies to state, rather than federal, elections.”

Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision two years ago that effectively ended the restrictions on political contributions from the general funds of corporations and unions.

[…] Continue reading

Needham Times Ed. Board

THUMBS DOWN to New campaign financing regulations – or lack thereof. 

Thank you to the League of Women Voters of Needham for reminding us in their letter about how the 2012 election differs from elections of just several years ago.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision of two years ago, corporations, unions and special interest are allowed to, and are pouring unlimited amounts of money into influencing political campaigns.

We urge voters to heed the advice of the League of Women Voters and question every political advertisement, investigate the money behind every campaign, ask candidates about their positions on campaign financing and be sure to head to the voting booth ready to make an informed decision.

— Needham Times editorial: Voters, pay attention

April 11: Boston College Law – Forum on Citizens United (in Jamaica Plain)

Citizens United Forum Presented by Students of Boston College Law School

A collaborative of Boston College graduate students will be hosting a panel on the subject of Citizens United and campaign finance reform in Jamaica Plain on April 11 at 7pm.

Panelists will include State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), President of the New England Legal Foundation Martin Newhouse, constitutional law scholar Professor Lawrence Friedman and WGBH journalist and former Washington Post reporter Ibby Caputo.

Admission to the forum is free and residents of Boston and the surrounding communities are encouraged to attend and learn the reasoning behind this important Supreme Court decision and the rationale of the opposition.

“People should care about the Citizens United decision because it is having an effect on the way democracy is practiced in this country, about the way elections work and who gets elected and why,”

said Professor Lawrence Friedman, a professor of Constitutional Law at New England Law | Boston and a panelist for the forum. Continue reading

What is “Citizens United”?

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a case called Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) ruled that the First Amendment gives corporations a right to spend unlimited amounts of money trying to influence elections.

Overnight, bedrock principles like “one person, one vote” and “government of, by and for the people” were undermined.

Now, our democracy is at grave risk of becoming nothing more than an auction-one in which the We the People will always be outbid.

Corporations are not people. They do not breathe or eat or sleep. They do not dance or fall in love or raise children. They do not go bowling or fight in wars or get cancer. They do not vote. Yet now they threaten to trample democracy by claiming constitutional protections that were intended only for actual people.

U.S Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), succinctly expressing what millions of Americans — from people in your community to President Barack Obama — are thinking, called Citizens United “one of the worst decisions I have ever seen.”

The ruling must be overturned, and a constitutional amendment is the best way to do that.

–from “Democracy is for People

Jeff Clements (Concord Author and Lawyer) on Amending the Constitution

State and local resolutions [such as MA S772 and Needham’s Town Meeting petition are] “calling on Congress to send to the states a Constitutional Amendment to restore the First Amendment to what it was for over 200 years–

protection for the totally unfettered speech rights for people, but NOT for corporate rights and power to overrule the people.

“Citizens United” says that it doesn’t matter what the people think, and that the First Amendment protects corporations and their “right” to put all the money they want (as the decision sees it) into our elections.

If you agree that a responsive self-government of the people can’t survive that doctrine, then the Amendment is the path.

Continue reading

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.

Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction.

But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.

— Supreme Court Justice  John Paul Stevens

from his dissenting opinion in ‘Citizens United’ vs. FEC, 2010

Restoring Free Speech (Bill S.772)

Amending the Constitution is a bottom-up –not top-down– process.  The actions of town and city governments and state legislatures “chain up” the message to Congress and the powers-that-be that the people want change.

The MA State bill s772 is being considered in committee in the MA Legislature. Its passage would be a strong declaration of Massachusetts citizens desire for real, substantive changes.

Our Town Meeting resolution calls upon our representatives in the Legislature,  State Senator Richard Ross and State Representative Denise Garlick, to pass this resolution.

Such statements at Town Meetings are powerful messages to our next level of government — state legislature — and in turn, passage of bill s772 sends a powerful message to our Massachusetts Congressional delegation to take up the mantel of fixing the problem of money in politics and unregulated campaign spending and SuperPACs.

The text of s772 is below, and you can track the bill’s progress via the MA Legislature’s website. Continue reading