Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court Ruling Expanding Corporate Political Contributions Prompts Constitutional Amendment Move

A coalition of public interest organizations strongly condemned today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money in U.S. elections and announced that it is launching a campaign to amend the United States Constitution to overturn the ruling.

The groups - Voter Action, Public Citizen, the Center for Corporate
Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance - argue the court's
ruling in Citizens United v. FEC poses a serious and direct threat to
democracy. They aim, through their constitutional amendment campaign, to
correct the judiciary's creation of corporate rights under the First
Amendment over the past three decades. Immediately following the
ruling, the groups unveiled a new website –
http://www.freespeechforpeople.org – devoted to this campaign.

"Free speech rights are for people, not corporations," said John
Bonifaz, Voter Action's legal director. "In wrongly assigning First
Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now
unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process
unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in U.S. history. This
campaign to amend the Constitution will seek to restore the First
Amendment to its original purpose."

The public interest groups say that, since the late 1970s, a divided
Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool
for corporations seeking to evade democratic control and sidestep sound
public welfare measures. For the first two centuries of the American
republic, the groups argue, corporations did not have First Amendment
rights to limit the reach of democratically-enacted regulations.

The groups point to prior amendments to the Constitution which were enacted to correct egregiously wrong Supreme Court decisions. As example, the 15th Amendment prohibiting discrimination in voting based on race and the 19th Amendment, prohibiting discrimination in voting based on gender.

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