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LWV. “The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake. Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely bring about an anti-democratic revolution in how we finance elections in this country.

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Presentation Transcript
Lwv
LWV

“The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake. Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely bring about an anti-democratic revolution in how we finance elections in this country.

Today, basic pillars of American democracy have been undermined – that elections should not be corrupted by vast corporate wealth and that the voters should be at the center of our democratic system.”

Mary G. Wilson, LWV Press Release1/21/10


Corporate personhood democracy for sale
Corporate Personhood:Democracy for Sale?


Us constitution
US Constitution

We the People

Free and Sovereign

Individual Rights

Private

Government

Subordinate & Accountable

Collective Duties

Public

corporations


The corporation in early america
The Corporation in Early America

Public purpose

Time limited charter passed by a state legislature

Could not influence elections or legislation

Terminated for public harm

Profit was incidental


1868 14 th amendment
1868 14th Amendment

Gave former slaves

legal protections of the Constitution.

“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


1886 santa clara county v southern pacific railroad
1886Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad

This case has been cited as precedent to hold that a corporation is a “natural person.”

(14th Amendment protection)


Of the 14 th amendment cases
Of the 14th Amendment cases…

brought before the

Supreme Court between

1890 and 1910,

19 dealt with African Americans, 288 dealt with corporations.


1919 dodge v ford motor co
1919 Dodge v. Ford Motor Co.

Michigan Supreme Court ruled,

“A business corporation is… primarily for the profit of the stockholders.”


1976 buckley v valeo
1976 Buckley v. Valeo

Political money is equivalent to speech.

--expanded 1st Amendment protections to include political expenditures.

Money = Speech


1978 1 st national bank of boston v bellotti
1978 1st National Bank of Bostonv. Bellotti

Corporations won the 1st Amendment right to spend money on

ballot initiatives and referenda.

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the dissent.


Chief justice rehnquist
Chief Justice Rehnquist

“The question presented today, whether business corporations have a constitutionally protected liberty to engage in political activities, has never been squarely addressed by any previous decision of this Court.

However,…the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Congress of the United States, and the legislatures of 30 other States…have concluded that restrictions upon the political activity of business corporations are both politically desirable and constitutionally permissible. The judgment of such a broad consensus of governmental bodies expressed over a period of many decades is entitled to considerable deference from this Court.”

DISSENT: 1st National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti


2010 citizens united v fec
2010 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC

The US Supreme Court allows

corporations & unions to spend

unlimited money

supporting or opposing

candidates and issues in elections.



Justice anthony kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy

“The appearance of influence … will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

From Citizens United v. FEC majority opinion 1/21/10


2010 citizens united v fec1
2010 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC

Based on two US Supreme Court precedents:

Corporation is a Person

Money = Speech



In perspective
In Perspective

Of the 100 largest economies on Earth, 47 are countries --- 53 are corporations.

The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans.


Corporate personhood
Corporate Personhood


Crucial distinctions
Crucial Distinctions

  • “We the People” have unalienable constitutional Rights.

  • Government has Powers conferred by “We the People.”

  • A Corporation has Privileges granted by a corporate charter of a state government. (e.g., limited liability, perpetual life, property ownership)


Move to amend
Move to Amend

Only human beings, and not other entities, have constitutional rights.

Money is not equivalent to speech and, therefore, can be regulated in the political process.



1803 marbury v madison
1803 Marbury v. Madison

Supreme Court ruled itself supreme among

the 3 branches of government.

Established judicial review.


Common objections to an amendment
Common Objections to an Amendment

  • Corporations always had constitutional rights.

    False

  • Corporations could not sue or be sued.

    False

  • Nonprofit associations would lose their Free Speech rights.

    False

  • “There is no such thing as too much speech.”

    Absurd


How you can help
How You Can Help

  • Take 2 brochures

  • Sign up for emails

  • Other organizations

    Ask LWV to support Move to Amend!



Thomas hoenig
Thomas Hoenig

“A member of Congress…reluctantly confirmed for me that any candidate who runs for national office must go to…the big banks

to raise money.”

NYTDecember 1, 2010


Too big to fail too big
Too Big to Fail = Too Big

Two years after the “too big to fail” bailout, the 5 largest banks were 20% larger

than before the crisis.

The 5 largest banks in the US control

$8.6 trillion in assets = 60% of GDP.

Thomas Hoenig 12/1/10


Lwv

Corporate

Power

and the

Sierra

Club


Lwv
“Over our history the Sierra Club has focused more on the environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…

…focusing less on the INSTITUTIONS AND RULES enabling corporations to apply that power to harm the Earth and its inhabitants.”


1906 hale v henkel
1906 environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…Hale v. Henkel

Corporations won 4th Amendment

“search and seizure” protection.

Justice Harlan dissented: “…the power of the government…to look into the books, records & papers of a corporation of its own creation, to ascertain whether that corporation has obeyed or is defying the law, will be greatly curtailed, if not destroyed.”


Regulatory laws unintended consequences
Regulatory Laws’ environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…Unintended Consequences

  • Can legalize harmful activities

  • Outrage shifts from corporations to government

  • Leads to the “revolving door”

  • Can negatively impact small business

  • Corporations get what they want & escape accountability


Proposed 28 th amendment
Proposed 28 environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…th Amendment

Section 1 (A corporation is not a person and can be regulated)

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.


Proposed amendment cont d
Proposed Amendment, cont’d environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…

Section 2(Money is not speech and can be regulated)

Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

Section 3

Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.


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