Tell your senator (letter for senate Democrats (PDF); letter for senate Republicans (PDF))and assemblyperson (letter for members of the assembly (PDF)) to sign the letter to Congress in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases. If a majority of both houses sign, New York will become the 17th state to call for an amendment.
Money is not speech
In the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the money spent on the electioneering communications of candidates for political office was protected by the 1st Amendment. This doctrine opened the door to plutocracy, a government of, by and for the wealthy few. We believe that money is not speech, that money is legal tender only, and it is covered under the phrase “manner of holding elections” used in Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution. The Framers gave state legislatures and Congress the power to regulate the manner of holding elections, and the Court took part of the power away both in 1976 and again in 2010 with the Citizens United decision. We, the people, are asking Congress and state legislators to take this power back, so our representatives can regulate campaign spending and contributions to get big money out of political campaigns, abolish plutocracy and restore American democracy.
As the late Senator Goldwater expressed in 1983: “[O]ur nation is facing a crisis of liberty if we do not control campaign expenditures. We must prove that elective office is not for sale. We must convince the public that elected officials are what James Madison intended us to be, agents of the sovereign people, not the hired hands of rich givers, or what Madison called factions.” [Emphasis added]
We are not and can not demand “equality of speech.” We’re demanding “equality of citizenship” and the end to institutional corruption as Professor Lessig describes our plutocratic order in his speech “Equality.” It’s possible that the McCutcheon v Federal Elections Commission decision will make inequality of citizenship even worse than it is.
Corporations are not people
“Corporate personhood” is an incomplete shorthand in the same way that “overturn Citizens United” doesn’t encompass the entirety of the problem of money dominating politics in America. When people say corporate personhood, what they usually mean by “corporate” is all legal fictions, including corporations, non-profits, unions, NGOs, PACs, political parties, incorporated towns and cities, and all other forms of organization that are created in charters granted by government agencies. And what they usually mean by “personhood” are the Constitutional protections afforded to those legal fictions that the Founding Fathers had originally reserved exclusively for individual citizens, i.e., We the People.
Abolishing corporate personhood is not about demolishing corporations or capitalism or anything as radical as an overhaul of our economic system. It is simply putting the reins back on the artificial entities that the Supreme Court has allowed to run amok in our economy, politics and legal system for 125 years. Governments are our creations and corporations are the governments’ creations. We cannot continue to allow the creations of our creations to have control over the destinies of the original creators — we the people. Enough is enough!
- We’re not asking for anything unprecedented in the U.S. For the first 98 years of our Republic, associations, corporations, unions, etc. had no rights. Nothing in the Constitution gives associations rights. Nothing in the Constitution designates money as speech. We aim to reverse undemocratic Supreme Court decisions.
- Majority of Republicans, Independents and Democrats support overturning Citizens United decision. 69% of Americans agreed that “new rules that let corporations, unions and people give unlimited money to Super PACs will lead to corruption.” Only 15% disagreed. Notably, three out of four Republicans (74%) agreed with this statement.
- Ask your state legislators to take the power back that the Supreme Court has usurped with Buckley (1976), Citizens United (2010) and AZ Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC (2011).
- 16 Local Municipalities in NY have passed resolutions in support of this effort.
- A resolution which calls on Congress to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United in West Virginia passed with bi-partisan support.
- Demand a Congress dependent upon “the people alone,” not dependent upon those very few wealthy people who are funding candidates.
- We want a representative democracy; our opponents in government want corporate plutocracy or plutocratic corporatism.
- Advocate for free and fair elections, not the free and expensive elections brought on by the undemocratic lie that money spent on speech is speech. Money is one manner of holding elections, and equal citizens means equal funding from the voters.
- If every voter spent only $50/year on all elections, local and national, it would not get money out of politics. It would re-empower the American voter once again.
- The people want democracy; the plutocrats want the status quo. Ask them to tell Congress NY is ready to ratify an amendment now, during this legislative session.
Thank you for your efforts and support.