April 12, 2012
Public Citizen Hails Vermont Senate Passage of Resolution to Overturn Citizens United Decision
Majority of Senate Republicans Join Colleagues to Affirm Town Meeting Mandate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The clarion call for taking democracy back from the hands of wealthy corporate interests reverberated from the towns to the state Senate late Wednesday as J.R.S. 11 passed with full support from all but three senators.
The resolution echoed those that passed in 64 towns around the state calling for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decisionand rein in corporate power in our democracy.
Public Citizen worked with people around the state, Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Williston), and nearly a dozen partners to coordinate the town meeting and state legislative effort. It now falls to the Vermont House to pass the resolution and put Vermont on the map as the third state in the country to call for an amendment (Hawaii and New Mexico are the first two). Already 43 lawmakers in the House have made public their support.
“The passage of the resolution is just one step toward a U.S. constitutional amendment declaring that the rights of natural persons are protected under the Constitution, not corporations, and that money is not speech,” said Lyons, the resolution’s champion. “Vermonters are proud to send this collective message to Congress from towns across the state and from the Vermont Senate.”
Added Aquene Freechild, senior organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign, “This is a rising democracy movement. It started in the towns of Vermont and it will continue to the U.S. Congress. With strong support in the House, Vermont may yet be the third state to call for an amendment.”
Vermont is not alone in vying to be the third state in favor of a constitutional amendment. Similar resolutions have passed in at least one legislative chamber in California, New York, Alaska and Iowa.
Public Citizen applauds the leadership of Lyons in spearheading this effort, as well as the efforts of Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell (D-Quechee), Sen. Anthony Pollina (D-Montpelier) and Sen. Jeanette White (D-Putney) for making sure the resolution reflected the town meeting mandate.
While opposition to the resolution was low, Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) attempted to gut the resolution through an amendment, but failed. Sens. Peg Flory (R-Pittsfield) and Joe Benning (R-Lyndon) joined him in voting against the final resolution.
Background on state resolution effort: The Vermonters Say Corporations Are Not People partnership, which worked together on town meeting proposals, also is working to pass the resolutions at the state legislative level. The effort includes Public Citizen; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a Move to Amend affiliate; Vermont Peace & Justice Center; VPIRG; Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.; Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility; Move to Amend; Rural Vermont; Vermont Workers Center; Common Cause Vermont; Occupy Burlington; Vermont Action for Peace; and the Safe and Green Campaign.