Montana, Colorado Voters Overwhelmingly Reject Citizens United
75-25% Cross-Partisan Call for 28th Amendment to the Constitution: “Corporations Are Not People and Money Is Not Speech”
Montana voters, calling for the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, have proved decisively the cross-partisan rejection of activist courts creating corporate rights and unleashing unlimited election spending as in Citizens United v. FEC. Montana voters of all parties overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and the related “corporate rights” doctrine on which the decision rested.
Montana, a state that Governor Mitt Romney handily won in the presidential race, adopted the initiative, I-166, by a 75-25% margin. (See Montana Secretary of State, Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights). The initiative instructs Montana lawmakers to work for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that corporations and unions have a Constitutional right to unlimited elections spending. The initiative spells out that corporations do not have Constitutional rights (as opposed to rights provided by the state laws of incorporation), and that the States and Congress have the authority to enact spending and contribution limits and other measures to ensure free, fair elections.
C.B. Pearson of Stand With Montanans said that Montana’s voters overwhelmingly insisted that “corporations are not people and money is not speech,” and will work to overturn the Supreme Court’s misstep:
With this initiative, Montanans are calling on every elected official in Montana to fight for fair elections and fight to overturn the horrible Citizen United decision with a constitutional amendment that says ‘Corporations Aren’t People and Money is not Speech.’ The fight for fair elections free of the corrupting influence of big money is just beginning. All Montanans need to work together to clean up our elections, end the big money scandal, and address the problem of secret money.
At the same time, Colorado voters passed Amendment 65 by a similarly lopsided margin. The initiative also calls for a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and restore to the American people the responsibility and power to decide how best to ensure that money does not overwhelm republican democracy. The Colorado results are here.
The Press Release of Stand With Montanans follows.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7th, 2012
For more information:
CB Pearson 406-544-0032
Voters Overwhelmingly Endorse Initiative 166
Say Corporate Money Should be Out of Our Elections Montanans to Stand Against Big Money in Elections
HELENA — Montana voters strongly endorsed I-166, the Prohibition on Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections Act, by a margin of three-to-one giving the citizen initiative a vote of 75 percent.
“This election has been unprecedented for big money and secret money; Montanans, and our country, need to stand together to address the problem of corporate money in our elections,” said C.B. Pearson, treasurer for I-166 and a long-time Montana campaign reform advocate. “With this vote, Montanans have provided much needed leadership on this important issue, much as we did 100 years ago with the passage of the Corrupt Practices Act. Montana experienced firsthand abusive, corrupt corporations trying to run the business of this state, and now we face a potential new era of corruption. That is why passing I-166 is so important.”
“With this initiative, Montanans are calling on every elected official in Montana to fight for fair elections and fight to overturn the horrible Citizen United decision with a constitutional amendment that says ‘Corporations Aren’t People and Money is not Speech.’” said Pearson. “The fight for fair elections free of the corrupting influence of big money is just beginning. All Montanans need to work together to clean up our elections, end the big money scandal, and address the problem of secret money.”
I-166 received bipartisan support from prominent Montana political figures. Governor Brian Schweitzer (D), Lt. Governor John Bohlinger (R), and former Secretary of State Verner Bertelsen (R) were the first to sign the petition to place I-166 on the ballot and came together to author the argument for I-166 in the Voter Information Pamphlet.
“We need to get the dirty, secret, corporate, foreign money out of our elections,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer. “Just as we did over 100 years ago, Montanans stood-up and took the first step, sending a clear message to the nation that corporations are not people and money does not equal speech. Now it’s up to Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to get the dirty, secret, corporate, foreign money out of our elections for good.”
Supporters of I-166 believe that the strong passage of the measure in Montana will have a ripple effect throughout the country, and will ultimately lead to the overturning of the Citizens United decision.
“Montana’s rebellion against corporate money in politics has sparked a fire that has already spread to many states and will soon be spreading to many more,” said Derek Cressman, Vice President of State Operations for Common Cause, a good government group and one of the lead supporters of the Stand with Montanans campaign in partnership with Free Speech for People. “We are already getting inquiries from leaders in other states who want to launch similar initiatives in 2014 to keep pushing back against the court’s big mistake in Citizens United,” he added.
“Montanans voting for I-166 in such strong numbers reflects how important it is to Americans everywhere that we overrule the U.S. Supreme Court and overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment, and the fact that it happened in Montana shows the geographic sweep and trans-partisan depth of this growing national movement,” said Peter Schurman, Campaign Director of Free Speech For People, a national non-profit organization founded the day of the Citizens United decision that leads and catalyzes the national movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn it and to rein in unchecked corporate power.
With this historic vote Montana voters became one of the first two states where voters have gone on record calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizen United decision.