March 2, 2012
On Super PAC Tuesday, Vermont Towns to Vote on
Whether Corporations Are People
Vermont Pushes for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn
Citizens United Decision
MONTPELIER, Vt. – As people across Vermont cast their votes on Super Tuesday, many will vote on local resolutions challenging corporate personhood. Nearly 50 towns will vote on initiatives calling on Vermont legislators and the state’s congressional delegation to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission with a constitutional amendment.
The Citizens United decision allows corporations to spend unlimited sums from their treasuries to influence elections. The result: a flood of corporate cash in the 2010 congressional elections and again in the 2012 presidential race.
The initiatives call on the Vermont Legislature and congressional delegation to support a constitutional amendment that clarifies that money is not speech and corporations are not people. Such an amendment would make it possible for Congress to limit election-related expenditures by for-profit corporations, nonprofits, unions and individuals.
“Vermonters are taking a lead in the growing movement for a constitutional amendment to limit the influence of big money and corporations in our democracy,” said Aquene Freechild, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. Public Citizen – along with Move to Amend/Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Vermont Peace and Justice Center, VPIRG, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Rural Vermont, Common Cause Vermont, Occupy Burlington, Vermonters Say Corporations Are Not People, Vermont Action for Peace, Vermont Workers Center, and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream) – has worked with Vermont activists to collect signatures and get the resolutions on town meeting agendas.
In the wake of the Citizens United decision, campaign spending by outside groups has skyrocketed. In the 2010 election cycle, the first since the Supreme Court decision, outside groups spent nearly $300 million. This election cycle, just the two top spenders of 300 legal Super PACs plan to spend as much. Cities across the nation have voted to rid elections of corporate cash.
The towns with ballot measures challenging corporate personhood include Albany, Barnet, Brattleboro, Bristol, Burlington, Calais, Charlotte, Chester, Chittenden, Craftsbury, East Montpelier, Fayston, Fletcher, Greensboro, Hardwick, Hinesburg, Jericho, Lincoln, Marlboro, Marshfield, Monkton, Montgomery, Montpelier, Moretown, Mount Holly, Norwich, Plainfield, Putney, Richmond, Ripton, Roxbury, Rutland City, Rutland Town, Sharon, Shrewsbury, South Burlington, Starksboro, Sudbury, Thetford, Tunbridge, Waitsfield, Walden, Warren, Waltham, Williamstown, Williston, Winooski, Windsor, Woodbury, Woodstock and Worcester. The list is also available at www.citizen.org/Towns.
A state resolution – introduced by state Sen. Virginia “Ginny” Lyons and currently in the Senate Government Operations Committee – calls on the Vermont delegation to support an amendment clarifying that corporations are not people under the U.S. Constitution. Lyons was also a leader in starting the town meeting effort, working with diverse groups to put forth sample language.
To learn more, visit: www.DemocracyIsForPeople.org.