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Friday, October 24, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
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Fran Korten
YES! Magazine / Op-Ed
Published: Saturday 9 June 2012
Across the country the momentum is building, spurred by organizations such as Free Speech for People, Move to Amend, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Occupy groups.

Use The People’s Veto to End Citizens United

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When I spoke at an event in February 2010, I gave the audience little boxes of matches. My point was that to achieve the change we were discussing we would need to light a prairie fire of activism. Two years later, I gave a similar talk. I needed no matchboxes. The prairie fire was well underway. 

Both talks were about the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC (CU). The case was the crown jewel of decades of Supreme Court rulings that corporations are “persons” with constitutional rights, including free speech, and that spending money is a form of speech. CU allows unlimited spending on political campaigns directly from corporate treasuries right up to Election Day.

After the decision, most people I knew were in despair. Although polls showed that 80 percent of people who knew about the ruling opposed it, what were we to do? The highest court in the land had spoken. Corporate money would now flood our elections. Only a constitutional amendment could reverse the ruling. At my 2010 talk that possibility seemed remote indeed. 

Two years later, when I spoke at a Move to Amend event, the mood was strikingly different. Organizers had just gotten the Port Townsend, Wash., city council to approve an amendment declaring that corporations are not people. They planned to press county officials and the state legislature to do likewise. Some planned to urge the League of Women Voters to support an amendment. Others wanted their churches to take a stand. 

Across the country the momentum is building, spurred by organizations such as Free Speech for People, Move to Amend, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Occupy groups. The legislatures of Hawaii, New Mexico, and Vermont passed resolutions endorsing a constitutional amendment to reverse CU. The city councils of New York, Los Angeles, and many other cities and towns have passed such resolutions. In April 2012, attorneys general from 11 states recommended an amendment. Thirteen U.S. congress members have introduced amendments addressing CU. In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court defied the CU decision, ruling that Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, which curtails corporate spending on state elections, remains valid—a ruling the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed while it considers whether to review the case.

This widespread, multi-sector activism is exactly what is needed to amend the Constitution. It’s hard to get two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the states to agree on anything, much less a measure that curtails corporate power. The trick is to build relentless pressure from the grassroots. The suffragettes learned this, mounting hundreds of campaigns at every level until the men in all those legislative bodies voted for the 19th amendment and women won the right to vote.

As activism spreads to reverse CU, so will the opposition. The corporate money we would like to restrain will be directed against this campaign. Advocates must make clear that this movement is not anti-business—in fact the American Sustainable Business Council, with members representing over 100,000 businesses, endorses an amendment. And the movement must be trans partisan, attracting people from all parties. 

Corporations are not people and money is not speech. In a true democracy each person has one voice, and its power depends on the weight of the argument, not the size of the wallet. The founders gave us a way to exercise a “people’s veto” by amending our Constitution to overrule our country’s highest court. We have done it before. To save our democracy, we must do it again.



my friends a quick look at

my friends a quick look at the posts here it seems to me the underlying theme is that on some level we are all perplexed. We as a nation have lost our way and our Constitution make provisions, in my mind makes it a citizens duty to rectify all that is at odds with our founding document. As a veteran I swore an oath to protect and defend our Constitution from all foreign and domestic. Is it not time to throw politics out and concentrate on focusing our attention not on the minutiae but on the real issues at hand. We are easily distracted by the irrelevant, perhaps that is what they are counting on...

On this article's comments,

On this article's comments, BIGDAD2542 has made FIVE snotty remarks, three of which involve telling other posters to 'get jobs'. This little pissant probably lives in his mommy's basement and hasn't managed to land his first job yet.

DON'T FEED THE TROLLS. He'll get bored very quickly since he probably has the attention span of a gnat. Ignore him. He'll bugger off. Let him get back to looking for his real parents who never did get married. Poor wee bastard...

Good advice. Yeah, clearly

Good advice. Yeah, clearly BIGDAD2542 is a right wing troll, a worm to infest this site.

He completely misconstrued my

He completely misconstrued my post. I said nothing to disparage Walmart workers. On the contrary, I suggested the miscreant justices be forced to work at Walmart so they gain an understanding of what real working people face every day instead of creating a golden highway for corporations. Typical lying Republican Fox "News" watcher.

This court thinks free speech

This court thinks free speech is only for conservatives and corporations and uses the fourth amendment as toilet paper.
Note to right wing trolls: I have a job.

Right, so that's why the

Right, so that's why the court found the way the ACLU wanted it to, because the ACLU is so conservative right? Look Citizens United was a free speech case, someone wanted to make a movie. That so called "liberals" are so intent on making that illegal if it deals with politics is mind-boogling. Notice which side UNIONS were on in that case?

The ACLU is neutral. They

The ACLU is neutral. They even defend Nazis. Citizens United was one in a two hundred year string of law suits by corporations aimed at taking over America. The goal of the rich is to use entities that live forever and have no liability for their actions to remove our individual freedoms. They are close to succeeding. Rolling back Citizens United is only the beginning. We must get to the point that corporate charters can be revoked by acts of state legislatures for attempting to influence elections, even for merely conspiring to do so.

Country for sale... going...

Country for sale... going... going... gone to the highest paying oligarchs.
SCOTUS is now the supreme power in the United States. The balance of power has gone by the wayside via the power of ALEC and the money of KOCH and the brain of ROVE. Look at Florida Gov. Scott, who is blatantly refusing to abide by the order of our U.S. Attorney General Holder to cease and desist from disenfranchising voter's rights. He knows when he goes to SCOTUS, they will back him up. Same with the Gov. Brewer of Arizona, who went to SCOTUS for a little racial profiling problem she was having and she won. These ALEC anointed governors know that the ALEC powered SCOTUS will back all of them-up as they destroy our democracy in favor of a plutocracy controlled by the very oligarchs who are financing the elections. Roberts is by far, the worst of the bunch, followed by Thomas and Scalia. They ought to be stripped of their power - but at the moment, there is no way to do that.

Country for sale... going...

Country for sale... going... going... gone to the highest paying oligarchs.
SCOTUS is now the supreme power in the United States. The balance of power has gone by the wayside via the power of ALEC, the money of KOCH and the brain of ROVE. Look at Florida Gov. Scott, who is blatantly refusing to abide by the order of our U.S. Attorney General Holder to cease and desist from disenfranchising voter's rights. He knows when he goes to SCOTUS, they will back him up. Same with the Gov. Brewer of Arizona, who went to SCOTUS for a little racial profiling problem she was having and she won. These ALEC anointed governors know that the ALEC powered SCOTUS will back all of them-up as they destroy our democracy in favor of a plutocracy controlled by the very oligarchs who are financing the elections via Citizens United. Roberts is by far the worst of the bunch, followed by Thomas and Scalia. They ought to be stripped of their power - but at the moment, there is no way to do that.
BIGDAD, your judgements of others is really rude.

Lorelei, Time for a little

Lorelei,

Time for a little "Hate Therapy" for you. If you don't like the Justices on the SC, then you are going to hate the three new Justices who will be appointed by President Romney(now that DOES have a nice ring to it.)

"Hate Therapy" now there's a

"Hate Therapy" now there's a moniker that tells so much about you, that you even posted it is revealing. Liking the justices is irrelevant, the decisions they make are what is of concern.
You spoke of the SC the highest law of the land. IMHO they conceded their power and position and gave in to political agendas when they ordered the vote count in Florida suspended, in effect "selecting" W as president. This had distinct effects, first it ignored the will of the people, which I believe the preamble to the Constitution is very clear about " WE the people, establish justice, paraphrased, is our road map for a democratic republic. The SC fell on it's collective face there and IMHO lost all creditability and standing and it will not matter who gets appointed to what would have been the last hold out for the part of our government responsible for supporting and defending our Constitution. Like the other branches of out gov't who have fallen to corporate interests, the last hold out has also conceded their power to the few and the economically powerful.
We had a nation of principles and ideals, something our founders left to us as "self evident", the consequences of this disregard for our Constitution are also "self evident" unless you are deaf, dumb and blind in which case I strongly suggest you take up pinball...

The People's Veto which will

The People's Veto which will work within a month: every day, every Liberal pause their varied agendas to UNITE their voice across the nation, asking a single question, "Why Hasn't The Supreme Court Reversed Citizens United Yet?"

Daily: Tweet it, FB Post it, email Congress Member, include it in Comments posted on media blogs. Doing this activism every day will force Pundits to pick up and repeat the refrain, which means the shows and columns and articles will muse about how disrupted our democracy has become.

Who could ever believe

Who could ever believe Citizens United would be a good idea? These justices are obviously corrupt as there is no reasonable argument for such a decision. They damaged the nation.

I will never be satisfied until they are physically punished. I think they should be forced to work somewhere, maybe Walmart for a month, prison for two years.

Citizens United was not an

Citizens United was not an actual Supreme Court Decision. When judges make decisions, they hew to precedent. Instead, CU shredded 90+yrs of legal precedent, therefore Citizens United was Right-Wing Judicial Activism knowingly handing the country over to the Right-Wing billionaires.

In other words you don't

In other words you don't agree with it, so it's not a real decision. Or do you think that Brown vs. The Board of Education, which broke precedent was not a real decision? How about Wickard vs. Filburn, which aside from breaking precedent was utterly absurd? Look, why don't you read what the ACLU (hardly a "right-wing" organisation) wrote about this?

Bozo, Your screen name is

Bozo,

Your screen name is well chosen. Disparaging Walmart workers will not win you any votes. Working at Walmart is honest labor; you should try it sometime.

working at wall mart is

working at wall mart is honest labor, indeed to bad the corporation is not cut from the same cloth, while they make billions, the state of California paid out 30 million to care for wall mart employees at the emergency rooms they have to use for health coverage as their billionaire bosses do not see fit to provide adequate compensation for the "honest labor" which nets the company even more billions. when is enough , enough?

Criminally indict US Supreme

Criminally indict US Supreme kourt justus Clarence the clown Thomas for repeatedly and deliberately falsifying his financial disclosure forms omitting his wife's obscene Kochroach teabagger lobbying income.
(Thomas also perjured himself at his confirmation hearings about his sexual predatory behavior toward Anita Hill, et.al. while at the EEOC, another good reason to impeach and remove him from the high court bench.)

That would break the 5-4 majority of the corporatist Roberts kourt and make it 4-4.

Roberts could be charged with perjury for lying at his confirmation hearings about his "judicial" activism. Citizens United vs FEC is exactly what he falsely claimed under aoth that he would never do.
(He is the Roger Taney of our time.)

That would remove another right-wing extremist NeoNazi from the high court bench making it 3-4 so the right-wing extremist activist corporatists would be in the minority and we could restore representative democracy..

Criminally indict "Clarence

Criminally indict "Clarence the clown?"

Jeffrey, you need to quit smoking crack, move out of your parents' basement, AND GET A JOB!!!

After the results in WI, it

After the results in WI, it becomes ever more clear that this route to amending the Constitution is going to be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. There is another route, which I think may prove to be more plausable and that is the Constitutional Convention. When we realize that the majority of state governments are controlled by the GOP and that the US House of Representatives is also in the hands of Republicans the road ahead seems most daunting. There is no question that this needs to be done. The question is how. There may be one other possibility, however, and that could be to get the Supreme Court to reverse itself. Following this fall's election cycle, that may be more possible than we tend to think. The court did not contemplate the extent to which money would flow from corporations into the political arena. You may recall Justice Alito's objection to the presidents remarks on the subject. Perhaps the situation in Montana may prove to be the test case we need. If not we should find another. It's worth a shot.

You have the most reasonable

You have the most reasonable comment. I am hopeful that Montana will uphold their historical ban on money in politics! Shame on the Justices to pass Citizens United knowing how WE THE PEOPLE (not corporations) feel about our right to make our one vote meaningful in an election "for the people, by the people" NOT CORPORATE SPECIAL INTERESTS destroying our democracy!!

Ladypenelope, The Supreme

Ladypenelope,

The Supreme Court bases it's decisions on the law and the Constitution, and not on the feelings of a few vapid kooks like you.

Get a job, and then get a life!

BigDad from your numerous

BigDad from your numerous posts devoid of any useful content and understanding of the supreme court maybe you're the one who needs to get a jobor at least pull yourself away from Faux news. I get it. You're a repubi-can't who knows what's best for everyone else- Father knows best - and wants the world to know.

Enuf, While I do enjoy Fox

Enuf,

While I do enjoy Fox News, I also watch MSNBC, mainly for entertainment. You are here to learn, and it is my pleasure to help you do so.

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