Published On: Mon, Jun 18th, 2012

Dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns Call for an End to Citizens United

According to a Common Cause media release Thursday, citizens in 65 communities across Massachusetts, speaking through their town meetings and city councils, have now called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FECwhich swept away a century of precedent barring corporate money in elections, and (with other decisions) greatly expanded the corporate rights doctrine.

Public domain photo/ECeDee via wikimedia commons

The growing number of Massachusetts communities making their voices heard is  part of a nationwide movement to rid elections of special interest money by overturning the court’s decision, which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.  The week of June 11 marks Resolutions Week, a milestone in the effort to pass local resolutions around the country; to date, hundreds of communities have done so, including major cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and New York. With 65 local resolutions passed, Massachusetts is one of the states leading the movement.

Momentum for a constitutional amendment continues to build across the counry. Resolutions have passed in the state legislatures of Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, and Hawaii, and are pending in many other states, including Massachusetts (S.772).  Eleven state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, have written to Congress urging action. In addition, 22 state attorneys general have urged the Supreme Court to uphold a Montana law challenging Citizens United. 

“The outpouring of support for amending the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision has been tremendous,” said Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts.  “This is truly a grassroots effort by citizens fed up with big money in politics and an increasingly dysfunctional democracy. People from all across the Commonwealth from all backgrounds have taken up the cause and brought it to their local officials and to town meeting.”

“Towns and cities from every part of Massachusetts have embraced a simple, powerful proposition: people, not corporations, shall govern in America,” said John Bonifaz, executive director of Free Speech for People, a national campaign pressing for a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling and restore democracy to the people.  “Like past campaigns for constitutional amendments, this movement will succeed because the American people, at the grassroots level, are standing up to defend their democracy.”

Lee Ketelsen of Move to Amend said, “New England town meetings are among the few forms of real democracy that have not been superseded by SuperPACS and ad campaigns by multinational corporations. Town voters took action to seek to return our democracy to We the People.”

“As the superrich and giant corporations spend billions to dominate our elections, we know things will only get worse unless we act now. The people are demanding an amendment, city by city and town by town,” said Mark Hays, coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign.

Avi Green of MassVOTE said, “The voice of people is clear, and getting louder every day — politics should be for people, not corporations.  Our democracy should not be for sale.  We must amend.”

In a 5-4 decision two years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The ruling dramatically expanded the new “corporate rights” doctrine that has distorted First Amendment jurisprudence in recent years. The decision has unleashed a torrent of corporate money in elections and reduced transparency in political spending.  The amount of money spent in elections as a result of the decision continues to increase and has negatively impacted federal, state, and local races.

The 65 cities and towns include:

Amherst Charlemont Framingham Needham Richmond Truro
Arlington Chatham Great Barrington Newbury Rowe Warren
Aquinnah Chilmark Leverett Newburyport Salem Warwick
Arlington Colrain Lanesborough Northampton Sheffield Wellfleet
Ashfield Concord Lincoln Oak Bluffs Shelburne Wendell
Boston Conway Lynn Orleans Shutesbury West Newbury
Boxborough Cummington Medway Otis Somerset West Tisbury
Brewster Deerfield Montague Pelham Somerville Westport
Brookline Dennis Monterey Provincetown Stockbridge Williamstown
Buckland Edgartown Nahant Quincy Swampscott Worcester
Cambridge Falmouth Natick Reading Tisbury
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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63


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