Horrific Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance. Time to Amend the Constitution: Corporations Are Not Persons!
The conservative majority on the Supreme Court just issued a horrific decision on campaign finance laws. In Citizens United v. the FEC, it lifted the restrictions on independent corporate expenditures during elections, thus driving a stake into the heart of McCain-Feingold. As a result, corporations are going to have a field day at the ballot box.
“Starting today,” Justice John Paul Stevens warned in his brilliant and impassioned dissent, “corporations with large war chests to deploy on electioneering may find democratically elected bodies becoming much more attuned to their interests.” In conclusion, he wrote: “The Court’s blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, threw out decades of Supreme Court precedents so as to coddle corporate expenditures on elections. Writing in the most sweeping way, he declared that “political speech or corporations or other associations” cannot “be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons.’ ”
The logic of this argument would throw out all restrictions on corporate expenditures, even direct gifts to candidates, though the majority didn’t quite go there. But it went everywhere else.
It asserted, astonishingly, and without evidence, that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” And it asserted that “no sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit organizations.”
Not even corruption.
If we are to obtain even the semblance of democratic self-rule, we need a constitutional amendment overturning this decision. Such an amendment should state explicitly that corporations are not persons and do not deserve the protections under the law that individuals enjoy. Nor should corporations be able to use their funds for direct contributions to candidates or for so-called independent expenditures designed to influence the outcome of an election.
Fortunately, there is a grassroots effort under way to do just that. It’s called MovetoAmend.org. One of the chief goals of the amendment, the group says, is to “firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
Please go to MovetoAmend.org and sign the petition to get this amendment rolling, right now.
It’s the only way we can have a chance at democracy in America.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. To subscribe for just $14.97 a year, just click here.
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