SCOTUS: Corporate Purchase of Elections = 'Free Speech'

Source: http://freespeechforpeople.org/resources

Freespeech for People.org

"On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections. The First Amendment was never intended to protect corporations.

This cannot stand. Join our campaign to protest this decision. Protect our democracy! Free speech is for people — not corporations."

freespeechforpeople.org is a campaign sponsored by Voter Action (voteraction.org), Public Citizen (citizen.org), the Center for Corporate Policy (corporatepolicy.org)  and American Independent Business Alliance (amiba.net) to restore the First Amendment's free speech guarantees for the people, and to preserve and promote democracy and self-government.  We are joined by a growing wave of people around the country.

http://freespeechforpeople.org/about

Responses to the  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission  Supreme Court Ruling
 

Read the Freespeech for People.org  press release responding to the Supreme Court decision issued January 21, 2010.

Read the Freespeech for People constitutional  draft amendment.

Read the Supreme Court ruling.

Listen to press call on Supreme Court decision.

Read background articles  . . . Resources continue @ Read More
 

 

Jeff Clements, Citizens United v. FEC: Time for a Free Speech for People Amendment?, American Constitution Society Blog 

Steve Cobble, People = Corporations, Not., Huffington Post.

Is legalizing corporate electioneering "pro-business"?

Jeff Clements, Beyond Citizens United v. FEC: Re-Examining Corporate Rights American Constitution Society.

Jeff Clements, Making Democracy Work: Free Speech for People (PDF)

Jamin Raskin, Corporations Are Not People National Public Radio.

Jim Sleeper, Corporate Free Speech? Since When? Boston Globe.

The Rights of Corporations (editorial), New York Times.

Jess Bravin, Campaign Finance Ruling Looms, Wall Street Journal.

Monica Youn, Corporations Have No Business in Elections Los Angeles Times.

Videos:

Jeff Clements

John Bonifaz

Transcript of arguments in Citizens United v. FEC, Sept. 9, 2009: PDF.

 Contact freespeechforpeople.org here




Corporations Are Not the People: A PEN Action to Reverse 'Citizens United' Court Ruling

The following action has been prepared by PEN (People's E-mail Network) in response to the U.S. Supreme Court rulling in 'Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission' asserting that corporate money in politics is the equivalant of the right of free speech by individual citizens. 

Using the PEN action page, you can simultaneously send a letter to:

(1)  Your U.S. Representative in Congress
(2)  Both your U.S. Senators, and
(3)  The editorial letters page of your regional newspaper


Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People
http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1029.php

Congress must act swiftly to block and override this Court ruling by enacting legislation to reject the "Corporate Personhood" doctrine and reassert that governments regulate corporations, not the other way around.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D FL 8) has already assembled proposed legislation in the House to counter the Court's ruling.  Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is doing the same in the Senate.
______________________________________________


Because of the gravity of the crime against the Constitution committed by a gang of 5 right wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court yesterday, we are launching two critical action pages at once

Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People
http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1029.php

Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5
http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1030.php

Having so grossly abused its jurisdiction by presuming to decide a question expressly waived by the petitioner in the Court below (p 12), this rogue Supreme Court ruled for the FIRST time that NO corporation can be constrained from unlimited influence over our elections.

Even assuming that the Court intended the decision to only apply to American corporations, the Court expressly declined (pp 46-47) to reach the question of whether foreign ownership stakes in American corporations should likewise be given carte blanche to put their thumbs on the scales of our democracy.

How does The Supreme Court 5 propose parsing which of these extra-national legal artificialities should be allowed to corrupt our democratic election process? Apparently in their minds, all of them.

Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People
http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1029.php

So what is it that we can and MUST do? The first and most prominent proposal we heard yesterday, and which we of course support, was to amend the Constitution to clarify that corporations have no such rights as people (which is to say U.S. citizens).

We are on ominous and clear notice that there is no further outrage these 5 gangsters in black robes are not gleefully and arrogantly capable of. Indeed, in his dissenting opinion (that the majority did not go far ENOUGH), Clarence Thomas characterized the decision as only a "first step" (Thomas opinion p. 1).

It is worth nothing that the authorship of the majority opinion is claimed by Anthony M. Kennedy, heretofore generally considered the least wing-nutty of the 5. The immediate and unavoidably necessary recourse must be impeachment for all five.

Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5

http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1030.php
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Facebook participants can also submit the action pages at

Corporations Are Not The People:
http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum1029

Impeach The Supreme Court 5:
http://apps.facebook.com/fb_voices/action.php?qnum=pnum1030

And on Twitter, just send the following Twitter reply for the Corporations Are Not The People action

@cxs #p1029

And this Twitter reply for the Impeach The Supreme Court 5 action

@cxs #p1030

_______________________________

New Four-Color Bumperstickers


We are making available for no charge (not even shipping) your choice of one of two absolutely gorgeous
full 4 color process bumper stickers.

Take a "Corporations Are NOT The People" bumper sticker, OR a "Impeach The Supreme Court 5" bumper
sticker for free.

You can request your bumper sticker from the return page after you submit either of the action pages above. Or you can do directly to this page and get them there.

Bumper Stickers for no charge:
http://www.peaceteam.net/bumper_stickers.php

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.millionfaxmarch.com/in.htm



Move to Amend 'Citizens United' and Abolish Corporate Personhood

Source:   http://www.movetoamend.org/learn-more

Republished here as a public service with full attribution to the originating source, MovetoAmend.org

Learn More

The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is here:
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf

Read the opinions, and you will see why Justice Stevens, in his dissent, was compelled to state the obvious:

. . . . 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.

Like to learn more? Here are some good places to begin . . .

~ History of the Corporation ~
~ The Need for Constitutional Reform ~
~ Building a Democracy Movement ~

History of the Corporation

Sourcewatch: Corporate Rights
This special SourceWatch page has links to the real story about the Supreme Court's revolutionary and unconstitutional decision to asserting that federal laws cannot limit corporate "speech."
See: http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Portal:Corporate_Rights

Abolish Corporate Personhood
This speech, given by Molly Morgan of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, follows the history of corporate power from the American Revolution to the present, detailing the ways in which the powerful elite have used the Constitution, the Courts and the corporation to quash the rights of We the People.
See: http://www.wilpf.org/docs/ccp/corp/ACP/Personhood_Talk.pdf

The Democracy Crisis
In this PowerPoint presentation, Riki Ott--a marine biologist and toxicologist from Alaska who fought Exxon for twenty years after the Valdez oil spill--shows that the spill was not just an ecological crisis, but a manifestation of a democracy crisis.
See: http://ultimatecivics.org/spresent.html

Corporatization: An Internal Clash of Civilizations
The authors write that, "Within the framework of U.S. constitutional law, in which personhood conveys fundamental protections against state action, the dubious doctrine of corporate personhood has allowed corporations to gain constitutional insulation from democratic control of corporate investment in key activities, including electioneering, lobbying, advertising, resource extraction, and manufacturing."
See: http://www.democracysquare.org/files_public/TNIyearb05us.pdf

The "Right" to Harm the Environment
Jan Edwards and Alis Valencia use this article to make the connection between corporate personhood and the destruction of the environment, going through the Bill of Rights and citing specific instances in which corporations used these rights to devastate the planet and local
communities.
See: http://www.californiademocracy.org/corporations/resource/environ.pdf

Taking Care of Business
Richard Grossman explains the history of corporate rule, contrasting it with the power of state legislators to control corporations and offering specific stories of states exercising their power to reign in corporate power. Explains the relationship between the Supreme Court and corporate constitutional rights, and explains how to use the state charter power to abolish those rights.
See: http://www.nancho.net/bigbody/chrtink1.html

The Essence of the Corporation
Ben Manski follows the legal history of the corporation from the ancient world to the early days of the Republic in order to understand its essence.
See: http://www.libertytreefdr.org/publications/manski_essence_of_the_corpora...

The Need for Constitutional Reform

Significant Cases in the Evolution of Corporate "Rights"
Reclaim Democracy has developed an excellent compendium of 20th century federal court decisions that have expanded federal protections for corporations against the public good.
See: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/#significant

Timeline
This timeline by Jan Edwards lays out the cases that gave corporations the
rights of persons and compares it to the struggles for rights for actual
persons.
See: http://www.californiademocracy.org/corporations/resource/timeline.pdf

Voting Rights Amendment
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., is the lead sponsor of the Right to Vote Amendment, knows that, "In a democracy there is nothing more fundamental than having the right to vote."
See: http://jackson.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72...
and: http://archive.fairvote.org/?page=205

Voter Bill of Rights
The Voter Bill of Rights is a document embraced by hundreds of voting rights organizations. It was originally a product of the 2001 Democracy Summer program, following the election debacle of 2000. It was amended for the 2004 No Stolen Elections! campaign, and amended again for the No More Stolen Elections! campaign in 2008.
See: http://www.nomorestolenelections.org/resources/voter_bill_of_rights

Why So Many Good State Laws Are "Unconstitutional"
Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris writes that, "Using the commerce clause, the "free trade" mantra of the time, they decided that states could not ban the manufacture, import, and sale of a substance that obviously many states wanted to ban. In other words [the] . . . . Supreme Court acted as a legislature."
See: http://www.poclad.org/bwa/Spring08.htm#pinkoleo

Municipal Government and Local Democracy
As provided by CELDF, J. Allen Smith informed us in 1907 that, "The powerful corporate interests engaged in the exploitation of municipal franchises are securely entrenched behind a series of constitutional and legal checks on the majority which makes it extremely difficult for public opinion to exercise any effective control over them."
See: http://www.celdf.org/HomeRule/JAllenSmithMunicipalGovernment/tabid/227/D...

Why Regulation Alone Won't Work
Regulatory agencies are often controlled by the industries they were formed to regulate. There is even a term for the phenomenon-- "regulatory capture." And a captured regulatory agency that serves the interests of the corporations that are supposed to regulate--with the power of the government behind them-- is very often worse than no regulation whatsoever. Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris describes the history, and suggests what to do about it.
See: http://www.poclad.org/bwa/fall98.htm

Building a Democracy Movement

Extending Democracy
In this video, Ben Manski, Diane Farsetta and Kevin Alexander Gray join the Progressive Magazine in addressing the challenge of extending democracy in the United States:
See: http://www.democracysquare.org/publications/video_extending_democracy

How and Why the People of Humboldt County Defended Local Democracy
Katilin Sopoci-Belknap, co-campaign manager the Measure T initiative banning
corporate money in local elections, speaks at a community forum about the
history of corporate power. She describes how corporations seized our First
Amendment right to free speech, equated speech with money and hijacked the
ability of communities to govern and defend themselves against abuse.
http://votelocalcontrol.org/sopoci-belknap.htm

'Citizens United' Decision Further Weakens U.S. Democracy

Source:  OpEdNews
http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Supreme-Court-decision-by-Ralph-Nader-100122-424.html


January 22, 2010

The Supreme Court Decision Further Weakens Our Democracy

By Ralph Nader

Yesterday's 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations.

With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars. Without approval from their shareholders, corporations can reward or intimidate people running for office at the local, state, and national levels.

Much of this 183 page opinion requires readers to enter into a fantasy world and accept the twisted logic of Justice Kennedy, who delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. Imagine the majority saying the "Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker's corporate identity."

Perhaps Justice Kennedy didn't hear that the financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report titled: "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America" (See: WallStreetWatch.org).

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that last year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $144 million to influence Congress and state legislatures.

The Center also reported big lobbying expenditures by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which spent $26 million in 2009. Drug companies like Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly also poured tens of millions of dollars into federal lobbying in 2009. The health insurance industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) also spent several million lobbying Congress. No wonder Single Payer Health insurance - supported by the majority of people, doctors, and nurses - isn't moving in Congress.

Energy companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are also big spenders. No wonder we have a national energy policy that is pro-fossil fuel and that does little to advance renewable energy (See: OpenSecrets.Org).

No wonder we have the best Congress money can buy.

I suppose Justice Kennedy thinks corporations that overwhelm members of Congress with campaign contributions need to have still more influence in the electoral arena. Spending millions to lobby Congress and making substantial PAC contributions just isn't enough for a majority of the Supreme Court. The dictate by the five activist Justices was too much for even Republican Senator John McCain, who commented that he was troubled by their "extreme naivete."

There is a glimmer of hope and a touch of reality in yesterday's Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately it is the powerful 90 page dissent in this case by Justice Stevens joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Stevens recognizes the power corporations wield in our political economy. Justice Stevens finds it "absurd to think that the First Amendment prohibits legislatures from taking into account the corporate identity of a sponsor of electoral advocacy." He flatly declares that, "The Court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation."

He notes that the, Framers of our Constitution "had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind." Right he is, for the words "corporation" or "company" do not exist in our Constitution.

Justice Stevens concludes his dissent as follows:

"At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics."

Indeed, this corporatist, anti-voter majority decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a simple Constitutional amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is time to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow "King Corporation" and restore the sovereignty of "We the People"! Remember that corporations, chartered by the state, are our servants, not our masters.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative John Larson (D-CT) would encourage unlimited small-dollar donations from individuals and provide candidates with public funding in exchange for refusing corporate contributions or private contributions of more than $100.

It is also time for shareholder resolutions, company by company, directing the corporate boards of directors to pledge not to use company money to directly favor or oppose candidates for public office.

If you want to join the efforts to rollback the corporate concessions the Supreme Court made yesterday, visit Citizen.Org and freespeechforpeople.org.