Republican Congressman: Citizens United = Dred Scott; corporate personhood = oligarchy

“The Constitution begins ‘We the people. . .’ not ‘We the corporations . . .'”

With that, former Congressman Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican, unleashed a barrage on the Citizens United decision and the activist fabrication  of Constitutional rights for corporations by a narrow majority on the Supreme Court.

In a speech to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and reprinted in the Boston Globe,  Congressman Leach explains why Citizens United and the fabrication  of corporate “speech” and corporate Constitutional rights destroy democracy.

There is no escaping the reality that the precept of corporate personhood pushes American politics in an oligarchic direction. Nor is there escaping the only justification for spending corporate assets in campaigns. Money spent on candidates must be considered a good investment for shareholders, a quid pro quo that can be banked.

Congressman Leach says the creation of corporate rights in Citizens United flips the premise of the American republic upside down:

A corporation is an artificial creation of the state which in turn is a creation of the people. To vest with constitutionally protected political rights an inanimate entity makes mockery of our individual-rights heritage. . .

Under a free speech guise, the Supreme Court has authorized masked men to use unlimited resources to rob America of its democratic idealism.

And the effects will be felt at the most local level in America:

A consequence of court-enhanced corporatist power is the nationalization of local elections. Candidates across the country become indebted to the same corporate groups. Farm-state candidates, for example, increasingly find that their campaign coffers are filled by oil companies on one side and out-of-state unions on the other, causing indebtedness to groups that often do not reflect the same views as the majority of their constituents.

Congressman Leach joins other Republicans, including Senator John McCain, in condemning the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that used the First Amendment and a concept of “corporate speech” to strike down election spending limits on corporations and unions. Senator McCain repeatedly has labeled Citizens Unitedthe worst decision ever“.  Numerous Democrats, including President Obama, joined by some Republicans have called for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a measure widely supported by Americans of all parties.

Read Congressman Leach’s entire piece 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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