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"The third anniversary of Citizens United is three anniversaries too many." (Photo: a Money Out/Voters In action in Chicago on Sat., Jan. 19 by Public Citizen)

Citizens United at Three: Grassroots Fight Against 'Corporate Personhood' Swells

"The good news is the American people are in an uproar, and demanding fundamental reform, including a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United"

Andrea Germanos

Grassroots groups are marking the third anniversary this week of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling with the continued message: 'corporations are not people.'

Since the 2010 decision (.pdf), which opened the floodgates for unlimited spending by corporations and unions on elections, democracy advocates have been working to bring back the voice of the people, as Sue Sturgis writes at Facing South:

[...] at the same time corporate interests are trying to tighten their grip on our democracy, a grassroots movement to challenge Citizens United has risen up. Local governments across the nation have passed resolutions and ordinances challenging corporate personhood, and more than 250,000 people have signed a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to establish that money is not speech and corporations are not persons entitled to constitutional rights.

More signs of resistance are evident across the nation this week.

In Montana, where voters in November overwhelmingly supported an initiative stating "that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings," people gathered in the capital on Monday to say "the third anniversary of Citizens United is three anniversaries too many," and to continue the momentum of the movement that wants to see an end to corporate-dominated politics.

In Maine, a rally organized by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is in the capital of Augusta on Tuesday to mark the anniversary and call for a constitutional amendment "to stop the unlimited flow of secret money into our democratic process."

One of the events organized under the Money Out/Voters In banner was held in Atlanta on Saturday, where protesters called "for taking the money out and putting voters back into our representative democracy."

“The 2012 election – only the second post-Citizens United election – was the most expensive ever, saw more outside money spent than ever, had more secret, Dark Money spent than ever, and subjected voters to unprecedented negative, attack advertising. We can’t keep going in this direction and maintain a functioning democracy,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “As this week’s actions demonstrate, the good news is the American people are in an uproar, and demanding fundamental reform, including a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related decisions.”

“Since the Citizens United decision three years ago, voters have been clear in their disdain for this decision,” adds Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The big question is whether our elected representatives will listen to those voices. Our goal is to build a wave of grassroots support so strong that they cannot ignore it.”

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