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 serves as President of American Promise. He has practiced law for three decades in public service and private practice, and is the author of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money & Global Corporations. He is also the founder of Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides sustainable financing to businesses in the local agriculture economy. Previously, Jeff has been a partner in a major Boston law firm and served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the public law enforcement bureau in the Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts. Jeff has helped to start and been a board member of many non-profit organizations and businesses. Today, in addition to the board of American Promise, he serves on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, Massachusetts. Twitter: @ClementsJeff
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