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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.

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Presentation on theme: "LWV “The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake. Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely."— Presentation transcript:

1 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

2 Corporate Personhood: Democracy for Sale?

3 US Constitution We the People Free and Sovereign Individual Rights Private Government Subordinate & Accountable Collective Duties Public corporations

4 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

5 th 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.”

6 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad This case has been cited as precedent to hold that a corporation is a “natural person.” (14 th Amendment protection)

7 14 th Amendment Of the 14 th Amendment cases… brought before the Supreme Court between 1890 and 1910, 19 dealt with African Americans, 288 dealt with corporations.

8 1919 Dodge v. Ford Motor Co. Michigan Supreme Court ruled, “A business corporation is… primarily for the profit of the stockholders.”

9 1976 Buckley v. Valeo Political money is equivalent to speech. --expanded 1 st Amendment protections to include political expenditures. Money = Speech

10 st National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti Corporations won the 1 st Amendment right to spend money on ballot initiatives and referenda. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the dissent.

11 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: 1 st National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti

12 2010 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC The US Supreme Court allows corporations & unions to spend unlimited money supporting or opposing candidates and issues in elections.

13 Citizens United, a 501(c)4

14 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

15 2010 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC Based on two US Supreme Court precedents: Corporation is a Person Money = Speech

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17 In Perspective Of the 100 largest economies on Earth, 47 are countries are corporations. The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans.

18 Corporate Personhood

19 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)

20 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.

21 Why an Amendment?

22 Marbury v. Madison 1803 Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court ruled itself supreme among the 3 branches of government. Established judicial review.

23 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

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25 How You Can Help Take 2 brochures Sign up for s Other organizations Ask LWV to support Move to Amend!

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29 Distribution of Wealth

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33 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.” NYT December 1, 2010

34 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

35 CorporateCorporate SierraSierra Power Club and the

36 …focusing less on the INSTITUTIONS AND RULES enabling corporations to apply that power to harm the Earth and its inhabitants.” …focusing less on the INSTITUTIONS AND RULES enabling corporations to apply that power to harm the Earth and its inhabitants.” “Over our history the Sierra Club has focused more on the environmental and public health EFFECTS of corporate power, while…

37 1906 Hale v. Henkel Corporations won 4 th 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.”

38 Regulatory Laws’ 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

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40 Proposed 28 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.

41 Proposed Amendment, cont’d 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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