Massachusetts Calls for 28th Amendment to Overturn Citizens United; Bipartisan Vote; 7th State to Do So

 Massachusetts is Seventh State to Call for Constitutional Amendment: No to Citizens United and “Corporate Rights:”

Passage of Amendment Resolution is Bipartisan

Massachusetts has become the seventh state to call for passage and ratification of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would overturn Citizens United and restore fair and equal elections. Republicans and Democrats joined in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a Constitutional  amendment resolution.

The House vote followed a similarly overwhelming and bipartisan vote in the Senate earlier in the week, where Senators of both parties condemned the Citizens United decision and voted 35-1 in favor of calling on Congress to pass the 28th Amendment and send it to the states for ratification.  Leading up to the Legislature’s vote, more than sixty Massachusetts city councils and citizen town meetings passed similar resolutions.

Millions of Americans across the country have signed resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment to restore the power of the people to regulate political and election spending and to preserve the Bill of Rights for human beings rather than corporations. The 5-4 Citizens United  decision and related decisions used a “corporate speech” theory to rule that the First Amendment means that the people are not permitted to enact limits on corporate, union, or any other spending in elections.

The action in Massachusetts follows demands for the 28th Amendment from New Mexico, Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, Vermont, and Maryland.

Action for a 28th Amendment is heating up in other states as well. Montana, following a rebuff by the Supreme Court to its challenge to Citizens United, will have a ballot initiative before the voters that would instruct its political representatives to work for the 28th Amendment and hold that corporations do not have the same rights as people under the Constitution. Montana’s Governor (a Democrat) and Lieutenant Governor (a Republican) have done a video together to explain why they support the effort.

Several amendment resolutions are pending in Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution recently held a hearing on Citizens United and the need for a Constitutional amendment. Such an amendment, done right, would restore the ability of all Americans to debate and decide for ourselves (1)  how to prevent unlimited spending and corruption from destroying free and fair elections and (3) how to ensure that state-created corporations are not beyond the control and oversight of the people. My written testimony, with a grid comparing the different amendments, can be accessed here.

More on the Massachusetts vote from many of the organizations involved from their release- – MA bicameral Passage Release 080112 and  here.

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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