Montana, Massachusetts, Momentum

The Big Sky pushback on Beltway politics and the fabrication of “corporate rights” by activists on the Supreme Court is expanding. First came the extraordinary Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld the Montana ban on corporate spending in elections, notwithstanding Citizens United v. FEC. Now, the people of Montana are lining up to have their say, no matter what the Supreme Court does with the Montana case.

On February 28, Montanans filed a ballot initiative to ban corporate campaign spending, reject the attribution of human rights to corporations, and instruct Montana’s Congressional delegation to work for a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and restore free, fair elections. Here’s some of the key language:

 Montana’s elected and appointed officials are generally directed as follows when carrying out the policy of the State of Montana:

(1) That the people of Montana regard money as property, not speech.

(2) That the people of Montana regard the rights under the US Constitution as rights of human beings, not corporations.

(3) That the people of Montana regard the immense aggregation of wealth that is accumulated by corporations using advantages provided by the government to be corrosive and distorting when used to advance the political interests of corporations.

(4) That the people of Montana believe there should be a level playing field in campaign spending that allows all individuals, regardless of wealth, to express their views to one another and their government.

(5) That the people of Montana believe a level playing field in campaign spending includes limits on overall campaign expenditures and limits on large contributions to, or expenditures for the benefit of, any campaign by any source, including corporations, individuals or Political Committees.

NEW SECTION. Section 5. Specific Directives.

          Montana’s elected and appointed officials are directed to heed the policy set by Montana citizens and act as follows:

(1)  The Montana Congressional Delegation is instructed to propose a joint resolution offering an amendment to the U. S. Constitution that accomplishes the following:

(a) overturns the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling  in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission;

The entire initiative is here.

Meanwhile, the people of Massachusetts seem poised to deliver another blow to Citizens United and claims of “corporate speech”.  On February 28, the Joint House-Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on S.772, Restoring Free Speech for People, which condemns Citizens United and calls on Congress to send a Constitutional amendment reversing the decision to the states for ratification. A day later, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a similar resolution, becoming at least the sixteenth town and city in Massachusetts to do so. In addition, the Constitutional amendment resolution in Massachusetts has been endorsed by the Attorney General, the Senate President, numerous legislators, and thousands of citizens of Massachusetts.

A February 17 poll from Suffolk University shows 81% of Massachusetts people opposed to the Citizens United ruling and unlimited corporate and union spending in elections.

Here’s a photo from the packed hearing room, courtesy of Concord Representative Cory Atkins, showing legislators from around the state asking the Judiciary Committee to report out the Amendment Resolution for a vote:

About Jeff Clements

Jeff Clements is co-founder and chair of the board of Free Speech for People, a national non-partisan campaign to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, challenge excessive corporate power, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He co-founded Free Speech For People in 2010, after representing several public interest organizations with a Supreme Court amicus brief in the Citizens United case. Jeff has served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 staff in the enforcement of environmental, healthcare, financial services, civil rights, antitrust and consumer protection laws. In private practice, Jeff has been a partner at Mintz Levin in Boston, and in his own firm. Jeff also has served in leadership capacities on numerous boards, including that 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; Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental organization he co-founded with others to protect and enhance stewardship of Maine’s Casco Bay; and The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 2012, Jeff co-founded Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides cost-effective capital to farmers and businesses engaged in local, sustainable agriculture. Jeff graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude from the Cornell Law School in 1988. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts with his wife and three children. Jeff Clements Twitter: @ClementsJeff Email: jclements@freespeechforpeople.org
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