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 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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