Under the Radar: The Movement to End Corporate Personhood

Three years ago, the Supreme Court, in what Keith Olbermann correctly called "Our Dred Scott," ruled that corporations had all of the rights of human beings and, more importantly, that  any attempt to limit their campaign contributions violated their First Amendment right to free speech in the infamous 5-4 Citizens United v. FEC decision. 

Since then, there has been a growing movement to overturn that decision. Today, on Democracy Now!, thanks to a college NPR station on my way home from work, I heard the following exchange:


I did not know that Senator Sanders and Congressman Deutch had introduced a Constitutional Amendment to ban corporate personhood and forever overturn Citizens United. Neither did I know that 11 state legislatures had passed resolutions calling upon Congress to pass such an amendment, nor that similar resolutions are moving forward in other states. I suppose that's no surprise: why should the corporate media report this development that is potentially inimical to their own interests?

Not to mention that my time is limited. I'm lucky enough to have a job, but it's mostly on a computer, so I prefer to do other things than surf the net during most of my own time, believe it or not. 

This is potentially very important. There are all sorts of people across the political spectrum who find the idea of corporate personhood ridiculous at best and insidiously dangerous to representative government at worst. The movement to abolish the abomination of corporate personhood has the potential to create a truly powerful popular movement that can effectively challenge our corporatist oligarchy's transparent attempts to turn this nation into a neofeudal aristocratic plutocracy. 

IOW, I think it's a Good Thing. I think it's definitely worth some of my time to follow, and to participate in. I'm curious to know if anyone else feels the same way. 

Feedback is welcome. Even, maybe especially,  from you, Pope Francis I. 



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I absolutely feel the way you do.

Glinda's picture

Constitutional Amendment Sponsors Renew Push to Undo Citizens United

March 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, March 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted, secret campaign spending by corporations and billionaires. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) filed the “Democracy is for People” amendment in the House.


The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermineddemocracy by opening the campaign spending floodgates. Already 11 states including Vermont and more than 300 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for the ruling to be overturned.


As a result of the controversial decision, a record $7 billion was spent in the 2012 election cycle. The secretive billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch reportedly steered at least $400 million into campaigns.


Said Sanders, “What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to tell billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, ‘You own and control Wall Street. You own and control coal companies. You own and control oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own and control the United States government.’ That is the essence of what Citizens United is all about. That is why this disastrous decision must be reversed.”


“The Democracy is for People Amendment will stop corporations and their front groups from using their profits and dark money donations to influence our elections while reaffirming the right of the American people to elections that are fair and representatives that are accountable,” Deutch said.


The amendment would make it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people. The amendment would effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns. Congress and states would have specific authority to regulate campaign finances by, for example, limiting donations, requiring disclosure of donors or creating public-financing systems for campaigns.


A similar constitutional amendment introduced by Sanders and Deutch in the last session of Congress would have addressed spending by for-profit corporations in elections. Much of the “dark money” funneled through nonprofit organizations in 2012 would not have been restricted, but would be covered by the new version of the amendment.


An amendment originating in Congress must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate in order to be submitted for consideration by the states. Ratification by three-fourths of the states is required to amend the Constitution.


To read the amendment, click here.


For a fact sheet on the amendment, click here.

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excellent news. remarkably embarrassing court decision

sartoris's picture

hopefully, this court decision will be overturned. the idea that corporations are people is simply unfathomable. do they breathe? do they bleed? can one be drafted into military service? can one be executed or fined for speeding?


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All good questions.

Glinda's picture

When I think back on it, good for Obama for calling this decision out in the SOTU.  Bad on Obama for everything else.

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you're right, I forgot about that moment

sartoris's picture

Yeah, I forgot all about that incident. That was a good moment for him. See, that's how I interpret the 'bully pulpit'. When he speaks people do listen. He has the power to start conversations. If he was constantly talking about offshore wind power or reviving our space program then those topics would be in the national conversation.


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I've seen him use his bully pulpit on a few occasions.

Glinda's picture

Actually three.

The SOTU, but that was just a blip in time.

The other was extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  Remember the impromptu appearance at a press briefing where he brought along the Big Dog?  And many of his cabinet secretaries going out on the talk shows in one week with their white boards and all?

Now it's the sequester.  And almost every speech he gives about the sequester includes comments about a "grand bargain."  My words, but too tired to find the links now.  You know what I mean.


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