DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT COALITION OF MASSACHUSETTS
May 22, 2012
More Than 50 Towns in Massachusetts Call for an End to Citizens United
BOSTON, MA– More than 50 cities and towns in Massachusetts have now called on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which swept away a century of precedent barring corporate money in elections, and, along with other decisions, greatly expanded the corporate rights doctrine.
The milestone was eclipsed May 14 when, at town meetings, four Massachusetts communities approved resolutions calling for such an amendment. Since then, Arlington, Boxborough, Otis and Worcester have also passed resolutions, bringing the total to 56 communities across the state:
- Great Barrington
- Oak Bluffs
- West Newbury
- West Tisbury
Additional Massachusetts communities will vote on resolutions in coming weeks.
The resolutions come as momentum for a constitutional amendment continues to build across the country. Resolutions have passed in the state legislatures of Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico and Hawaii, and are pending in many other states, including Massachusetts (S.722). Major cities have also passed resolutions, including Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Eleven state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, have written to Congress urging action. In addition, 22 state attorneys general have urged the Supreme Court to uphold a Montana law challenging Citizens United.
“Towns and cities from every part of Massachusetts have embraced a simple, powerful proposition: People, not corporations, shall govern in America,” said John Bonifaz, executive director of Free Speech for People, a national campaign pressing for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling and restore democracy to the people. “Like past campaigns for constitutional amendments, this movement will succeed because the American people, at the grassroots level, are standing up to defend their democracy.”
“New England town meetings are among the few forms of real democracy that have not been superseded by Super PACs and ad campaigns by multinational corporations,” said Lee Ketelsen of Move to Amend. “Town voters took action to seek to return our democracy to We the People.”
Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts said, “The outpouring of support for amending the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision has been tremendous. This is a truly a grassroots effort by citizens fed up with big money in politics and an increasingly dysfunctional democracy. People from all across the Commonwealth from all backgrounds have taken up the cause and brought it to their local officials and to town meetings. Fifty-six communities enacting resolutions is just a start.”
“As the superrich and giant corporations spend billions to dominate our elections, we know things will only get worse unless we act now,” said Mark Hays, coordinator for Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “The people are demanding an amendment, city by city and town by town.”
Avi Green of MassVOTE said, “The voice of people is clear, and getting louder every day. Politics should be for people, not corporations. Our democracy should not be for sale. We must amend.”
In a 5-4 decision two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on corporate expenditures in elections violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The ruling dramatically expanded the new “corporate rights” doctrine that has distorted First Amendment jurisprudence in recent years. The decision has unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our elections and has reduced transparency in political spending. The amount of money spent in elections as a result of the decision continues to increase and has negatively impacted federal, state and local races.
Public Citizen www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org
Coffee Party www.coffeepartyusa.com
Common Cause Massachusetts www.commoncause.org/ma
Free Speech for People: www.freespeechforpeople.org
Move to Amend www.movetoamend.org