Portland, Maine Joins Growing Movement to Push Back Against Citizens United
“Citizens United subverts the essence of democracy"
Thanks to an effort by a Portland City Councilor, Maine could be among the states working to fight back against the US Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United.
The Bangor Daily News reports:
The city of Portland could soon join an effort to reject so-called corporate personhood, the controversial extension of constitutional free speech rights to allow unfettered political spending by corporations.
City Councilor David Marshall is proposing a resolution that, if adopted by the larger council, would urge Maine’s congressional delegation and other federal lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment to throw out corporate personhood.[...]
“The great wealth of large corporations allows them to wield coercive force of law to overpower the votes of human beings and communities, thus denying We the People’s exercise of our constitutional rights,” the resolution states, in part. “The judicial and political bestowal of civil and political rights upon corporations usurps basic human and constitutional rights guaranteed to human persons.”
According to the Portland Press Herald:
Marshall said the Occupy Wall Street movement and its local version, Occupy Maine, inspired him to submit the resolution. One of the movement's core grievances is that the United States has a political system open to corruption, with representative democracy taken over by corporate and special interests.
Marshall said the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Citizens United has allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds on political advertising. In the 5-4 ruling, which gave corporations and unions freedom to spend as much as they want to support or attack candidates, the court said corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people.
The movement to overturn Citizens United has gotten widespread support. From a release from People For the American Way today:
More than 60 organizations have now joined the effort to combat the anti-democratic corporate and special interest spending in our elections made possible by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, by supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision. The movement to fix the Supreme Court’s dangerously flawed decision is being supported by advocacy groups like MoveOn.org, think tanks like Demos, and a range of important allies like the Communications Workers of America (CWA) which recently became the first labor union to take up the cause. Through this effort, millions of Americans are taking action to ensure that our democracy responds to the needs of the American people, not just the bottom lines of wealthy special interests.
For thousands of American citizens, elected officials and progressive organizations standing together to demand a constitutional amendment to reverse the effects of Citizens United, this is a “movement moment.” Now is the time to demand that the American people – and not wealthy special interests and corporations – hold the keys to our democracy.
Public Citizen president Robert Weissman stated today:
“Citizens United subverts the essence of democracy, which means rule by the people,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision with a constitutional amendment is the first step in fixing our broken political system and opening the door to address the great challenges facing the country, from putting people back to work to averting catastrophic climate change.”