RSS

Tag Archives: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Sanders proposes amendment to the Constitution to counter Citizen’s United

According to a story in The Hill, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has proposed an amendment to the Constitution to exclude corporations from First Amendment rights to spend money on political campaigns.

The proposed amendment’s a reaction to the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, wherein the conservative majority Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the government cannot put limits on election advertisements funded by corporations, unions or other groups. Democrats have charged that the decision essentially treats corporations as people who can enjoy First Amendment rights.

“Make no mistake, the Citizens United ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy, further tilting the balance of power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when already the wealthiest people in this country have never had it so good,” Sanders said.”In my view, history will record that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision is one of the worst decisions ever made by a Supreme Court in the history of our country.”

S.J.Res. 33, would state corporations don’t have the same constitutional rights as persons, that corporations are subject to regulation, that corporations may not make campaign contributions and that Congress has the power to regulate campaign finance.

While the Citizens United case affected corporations, unions and other entities, the Sanders amendment focuses only on “for-profit corporations, limited liability companies or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests.”

The Hill reports that Sanders said he’s never proposed an amendment to the Constitution before, but said he sees no other alternative to reversing the Citizens United decision.

“In my view, corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections,” he said. “I do not believe that is what American democracy is supposed to be about.”

This past summer, Republican Tea Party (GOTP) presidential bridesmaid candidate Mittens Romney mewed “corporations are people my friend,” when fielding a question about whether taxes should be raised in order to increase federal revenues, which drew sharp reactions from Democrats.

The Sanders amendment is co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, and a similar amendment has been proposed in the House by Democratic Representative Ted Deutch of Florida.

While it’s true these proposals don’t have a snow ball’s chance of moving forward in the House and Senate, as each would need the support of two-thirds of both chambers to pass, Sanders, Begich and Deutch should all be thanked by liberty loving people everywhere; Citizens United is one of the most infamous Supreme Court decisions since Dred Scott and make no mistake it will one day be overturned.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Constitution

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Democrats Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

While some in the Supreme Court may enjoy treating corporations like people who can spend whatever they want on elections, the American people don’t have to accept it, said Democratic senators who proposed a constitutional amendment this week to retake control of campaign spending.

The Huffington Post is reporting the amendment, introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), while not directly addressing the justices’ legal finding that corporations have a right to free speech that was previously curtailed by election law, it would add to the Constitution language saying Congress and the states can regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.

The amendment would effectively reverse two landmark Supreme Court decisions — the 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, which said spending money in elections is a form of speech, and the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which ruled it unconstitutional to regulate the money spent to influence elections by corporations and unions.

The latter ruling has unleashed a flood of cash from corporations and super PACs into campaigns spending as much as they want without having to disclose where the money is coming from; theoretically opening up American elections to undo influence from a very limited group of citizens or perhaps even to wealthy foreign interests.

“Letting this go unchecked is a threat to our democracy. Campaigns should be about the best ideas, not the biggest checkbooks,” Udall said at the press conference.

Reportedly, the amendment has three main focuses: to authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaign contributions and expenditures (including independent expenditures), to allow states to regulate that raising and spending at their level, and to permit Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that could withstand constitutional challenges. It does not specify what the reforms should be.

Also at the press conference, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the proposed amendment, called the Buckley case “one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court has rendered in the last hundred years” and described the Citizens United ruling as “Buckley on steroids.”

A constitutional amendment could be a welcome proposal for the thousands of demonstrators involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which holds a reversal of the Citizens United ruling as one of its oft-repeated demands.

“The extent to which money and corporations have taken over the [campaign] process is reflected across our cities in the Occupy movement,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another co-sponsor. “It is something we have to do something about if we are going to reclaim American democracy as the shining light to other countries that it has always been.”

The amendment faces a long, unlikely path even to win initial congressional approval. Senate Republicans last year opposed a Schumer measure, the Disclose Act, which simply required additional disclosure about campaign spenders. Big surprise the Republican Tea Party (GOTP) interests in the Senate opposed it; unfortunately we have effectively discovered that conservatives today – almost to the man and woman – serving in the Congress are wholly owned by big corporate business and uber-wealthy interests. They care more for their pocket books than for individual liberties.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Supreme Court

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Thomas believes children are not guaranteed First Amendment liberties?

The United States Supreme Court has handed down its decision on “Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association”, and while the Court decided the California law in question was unconstitutional due to limiting free speech, something everyone on both sides of the political spectrum should be happy about – meaning the Court’s defending of the First Amendment – some on the court, namely Justice Clarence Thomas, believe that children have no guaranteed First Amendment rights.

Thomas once again demonstrated his own inability to sit on the nation’s highest court, declaring that the majority’s opinion in the case “does not comport with the original public understanding of the First Amendment…The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that ‘the freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.”

So, if we were to follow Justice Thomas’s logic on what the founding generation’s view on any number of subjects was, then we would have to effectively turn 200 + years of judicial review on its head. Thomas’s very rigid interpretation of all things constitutional is one of the biggest flaws in “originalists’” theology.

Opening up this Pandora’s Box, and following Thomas’s view of the founding generation’s view of things, what laws or rights would need to be overturned?

First, Justice Thomas would need to resign from the bench, because it should be quite clear to any number of originalists what the founding generation’s view of 3/5 of a person occupying a seat on the Supreme Court would be. So, step down Mr. Justice, step down, or be a hypocrite; but you can’t dare to speak for the founding generation and then not uphold all that generation would have upheld.

Women would no longer have the right to vote, and would belong to their husbands – as property.

African-Americans could still be owned as slaves.

African-Americans would no longer have the right to vote.

African-American children would still be attending school in “separate but equal” facilities, while children with special needs would be placed in state run institutions.

African-Americans would have to sit in the back of the bus, and ride in separate cars from whites on any trains, as well as sit in separate areas of theaters and sporting events, and use separate toilet facilities and drink from separate water fountains.

African-Americans would not be serving in the armed services.

If children are not guaranteed the rights of the Constitution, according to the founding generation, then does that theology extend to the unborn as well?

Interestingly enough, following Thomas’s logic, the infamously recent decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission would need to be overturned because there is no conceivable way any originalists could claim the founding generation would ever have subscribed to the idea of a business corporation being endowed with inalienable rights by the creator.

Mr. Associate Justice, step down before you humiliate yourself any further. You are clearly unqualified as your recent stands on any number of cases prove. You have been shown to be unethical by refusing to recluse yourself from cases where there is clear conflict of interest. You sir, are an embarrassment.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 28, 2011 in Supreme Court

 

Tags: , , , ,