New Mexico Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United

The New Mexico Senate has voted 20-9 to condemn Citizens United v. FEC and demand that Congress send a Constitutional amendment to the states for ratification that will reverse the Supreme Court’s decision. The Senate vote follows a similarly lopsided vote in the New Mexico House in favor of overturning Citizens United‘s fabrication of corporate rights to spend unlimited money in elections. Free Speech for People joined Common Cause New Mexico, the Green Chamber of Commerce, and many other organizations and people to win this important step. Here’s Common Cause New Mexico’s press release:

Contact: VIki Harrison, Common Cause New Mexico (505)205-3750,vharrison@commoncause.org

New Mexico a Leader in Nation Calling for Amendment to U.S. Constitution to reverse Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision

Santa Fe, NM – Senate Memorial 3, sponsored by State Senator Steve Fischmann of Las Cruces, was just approved by a vote of 20-9 in the New Mexico State Senate. Along with its companion bill, Rep. Mimi Stewart’s House Memorial 4 (approved 38-29 on January 31, 2012), the bill’s passage makes New Mexico the second state in the nation to call for the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission (Hawaii was the first, in April, 2010).

The Citizens United ruling resulted in an explosion of unlimited, and often undisclosed, Super PAC spending, as we have seen in the current Republican presidential nominating process. The memorial is an important statement by the New Mexico State Legislature because the constitutional amendment process requires ratification by a minimum of 38 states.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Fischmann, emphasized the legislation’s role in defending our nation’s democracy. “Voters need to know their opinions count as much as any corporate entity, trade, or labor association. I’m proud that New Mexico’s State Senate is willing to stand for this principle,” said Fischmann. Lead advocate Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico praised the legislation’s passage as “a frank statement of the State of New Mexico’s intent to correct the egregiously wrong Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to spend millions on electing politicians who will do their bidding.”

The impact of HM4/SM3 was also touted by national partners who joined in advocating for the legislation. “Today’s vote by the New Mexico State Senate marks a great victory for American democracy,” said Maram Abdelhamid, national field director for Free Speech For People, a national campaign pressing for a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling. “The State of New Mexico is helping to lead the way for the nation in this movement to ensure that people, not corporations, govern in America.  We look forward to working with other state legislatures which will follow New Mexico’s example and defend our democracy.”

Addressing the flood of campaign contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals is supported by a vast and diverse majority of Americans, including two-thirds of small business owners. In a press release from the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, the organizations’s President, Lawrence Rael, emphasized that “the Citizens United decision is deeply unpopular with our businesses and the vast majority of small businesses leaders believe the decision hurts small companies.”

As memorials, the two bills need no further approval or signatures in New Mexico.

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And here’s a statement from Free Speech for People:

DATE: February 13, 2012                                    CONTACT:     John Bonifaz, (413) 253-2700

 NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE CALLS FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERTURN THE SUPREME COURT’S CITIZENS UNITED RULING AND RESTORE DEMOCRACY TO THE PEOPLE 

SECOND STATE IN THE NATION TO CALL FOR AN AMENDMENT 

STATEMENT OF JOHN BONIFAZ, DIRECTOR, FREE SPEECH FOR PEOPLE

On February 11, 2012, by a vote of 20-9, the New Mexico State Senate approved Senate Memorial 3, calling on the US Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to overturn the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and to restore republican democracy to the people.  The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a similar bill, House Memorial 4, by a vote of 38-29, on January 31, 2012.  With these votes, New Mexico has now become the second state in the nation to call for such a constitutional amendment.  Hawaii passed a similar resolution in April 2010.

Free Speech For People applauds the New Mexico legislature on this historic vote.  This marks a major victory for the constitutional amendment movement to reclaim our democracy.  The Citizens United ruling presents a direct and serious threat to the integrity of our elections, unleashing a torrent of corporate money into our political process.  The ruling is also the most extreme extension yet of a corporate rights doctrine which has been eroding our First Amendment and our US Constitution for the past 30 years.  As with prior egregious Supreme Court rulings which threatened our democracy, we the people must exercise our power under Article V of the Constitution to enact a constitutional amendment which will preserve the promise of American self-government: of, for, and by the people.

Free Speech For People initiated this campaign in New Mexico, and we are honored to have worked with a coalition of state legislators, grassroots activists, business leaders, public interest groups, and ordinary citizens in pressing for the passage of these memorials.  We thank especially New Mexico State Senators Steve Fischmann and Eric Griego and State Representative Mimi Stewart for their leadership in the legislature on this critical matter.  And, we thank our organizational partners and allies in New Mexico who helped raise the public consciousness on this question and who helped make this victory possible.  These allies include: Center for Civic Policy, Common Cause New Mexico, League of Women Voters of New Mexico, New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, El Centro, Southwest Organizing Project, All Families Matter, New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association, Native American Voter Alliance, Progress Now, and Move On.

The State of New Mexico is helping to lead the way for the nation in this movement to ensure that people, not corporations, govern in America.  We look forward to working with state legislatures across the country which will follow New Mexico’s example and defend our democracy.

Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan campaign launched on the day of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC to press for a 28thAmendment to the US Constitution to overturn the ruling and to restore democracy to the people.  For more information, visit www.freespeechforpeople.org.

 

About Jeff Clements

Jeff Clements, an attorney and author, is the president and co-founder of Free Speech for People, a national, non-partisan campaign to challenge the creation of Constitutional rights for corporations, overturn Citizens United v. FEC, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He is the author of the Corporations Are Not People (Berrett-Koehler, 2012). Mr. Clements, an attorney, has represented and advocated for people, businesses and the public interest since 1988. Mr. Clements served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from early 2007 to 2009. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 attorneys and staff in law enforcement and litigation in the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, healthcare, insurance and financial services, antitrust and consumer protection. Mr. Clements also served as an Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts from 1996 to 2000, where he worked on litigation against the tobacco industry and handled a wide range of other investigations and litigation to enforce unfair trade practice, consumer protection and antitrust laws. In private practice, Mr. Clements has been a partner in the Boston law firms of Clements & Clements, LLP and Mintz Levin. He also has practiced in Maine, where he has represented clients in a variety of appeals and litigation, and in investigations and prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Maine Attorney General’s Office. In the 1990s, Mr. Clements was elected as a Trustee and President of the Board of Trustees of the Portland Water District, a public agency responsible for protecting and delivering safe drinking water and ensuring proper treatment of wastewater for 160,000 people in Portland and South Portland, Maine and several surrounding communities. He was a co-founder, officer, and director of Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental advocacy organization focused on protection and stewardship of Maine’s Casco Bay. He also has served as a Trustee and President of the Board of The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. Mr. Clements graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude with a concentration in Public Law from the Cornell Law School in 1988. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts with his wife and three children.
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