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Democracy Amendment Ballot Question (#4) wins big!!

79% of Voters in Swampscott agreed: We need to Seek an Amendment to the Constitution to address 'Corporate Personhood" and to assure We Can Regulate Spending in our Elections.

Voters in just under half of Massachusetts towns considered the Democracy Amendment ballot question supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn federal court decisions that give rights of persons to Corporations. The most recent is the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 decision that said corporations and the wealthy can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections, and earlier court decisions that have given corporations constitutional rights.

As of today, voters in 30 state representative districts and 6 senatorial districts in MA have approved the measure by 79%.  In 8th Essex, the overall number was 75% positive, with Lynn, 75%, Swampscott, 79%, and Marblehead, 77%.  In Salem, 76% of voters supported a call for the Democracy Amendment.

The question called on Congress to send an amendment to the states stated that: 

"(1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the States may place limits on political contributions and political spending"

“It is common sense to most people that corporations are powerful artificial entities that are not entitled to the constitutional protections granted to individual citizens in the Bill of Rights,” said Lee Ketelsen, spokesperson for Move to Amend. “We have spoken: The free speech rights of citizens must not be drowned out by a flood of political spending by just a few wealthy individuals or corporations.”

“With today’s vote, the people of Massachusetts have sent a strong message to our elected leaders to get to work on a constitutional amendment that restores a government of, by and for the people, not of, by, and for the corporations. We plan to build on this success by getting even more jurisdictions on record in support and continuing to press Congress to act,” concluded Pam Wilmot of Common Cause. 

Voters in Colorado, Montana, Chicago, San Francisco, and smaller cities including Eugene, Oregon, Ashland, Oregon, and Richmond, California, also overwhelmingly approved ballot measures calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United

"It is our hope that this will provide energy for us to proceed and obtain an amendment that will return control of our democracy to the people," said Kathy Lique of North Shore Move to Amend.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

leah ryan November 10, 2012 at 02:44 PM
as long as this amendment includes unions it is a good one otherwise it is nothing more than a way to give one party a monetary advantage over the other.
Kathy Lique November 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Yes, Leah, you're right and I don't agree with the language that excludes unions. I think that they are organizations and not people. The actual language of an amendment has yet to be worked out. I believe there are 12 or so possible amendments that have been put forth by different members of Congress so far, some exclude unions, some don't. This is a long process but the fact that people can see that the current situation is undermining our democracy and are speaking up is encouraging. Thanks for your comment. Kathy
Lenny November 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I don't see why we should consider restricting free speech at all unless when it incites violence. It is a dangerous and overly litigious path we are put on if we try to do so. I mean aside from unions, what about the media? Most of the of the media favors the left side of politics, and unabashedly so. So NBC supporting Obama for example, they are a corporation and they influence opinion through thier broadcasting. Should the law restrict NBC? I just think laws like this not only never work, but they complicate things that are on balance, quite uncomplicated. Think of it, 2 billion dollars were spent on the most recent election and the result was the status quo. Did Wall Street elect Romney? Did the unions deliver the US House to the Democrats? I think the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was the correct one and we should leave things alone.
Kathy Lique November 11, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Free speech rights were given to the people in the Constitution. Our country has pursued the principle that all people are created equal. Corporations were not mentioned in the Constitution. They are "legal fictions" established by states to allow the conduct of business and accumulation of profit; they are NOT people. They do not have full human judgment (though the people who work for them do.) Through the Federal Courts in the past 115 years, corporations have made the case they should have a number of the people's rights. They've used these rights to circumvent laws which have been passed by the people, protecting public health, the environment, public safety, etc. This is what the proposed amendment that Move to Amend addresses: corporations should not be granted the rights of people. They do not have mouths to speak, they do not die, they are not born, they do not have a commitment to creating a strong and healthy country. Other proposed amendments are more specifically focussed on doing away with Citizens United (which would happen with this amendment as well.) Language of the amendment will be negotiated over the coming months. Most of the proposals do say that this is not intended to infringe of the rights of the press. Can you see how this change in our laws gives undue power to those with money and takes away the principle that each person has equal value and an equal vote?
Lenny November 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Sorry Ms Lique, but the Supreme Court says you are wrong and I happen to agree with them. Corporations are not brick and cement, they are people just as when we refer to the Catholic Church we are not speaking about the steeple and the pews, but about Catholics. The Constitution does not reference abortion rights, nor specifically confer constitutional rights to the unborn child, therefore Rowe v Wade affords the right to women up to a certain point before states are given the authority to offer rights to the unborn child. The Constitution also provides to you and others of like mind the opportunity to pursue amending the constitution which I would encourage you to attempt to do if your passion is there. However it can't be done legislatively because it is not constitutional and the Supreme Court said so. Constitutionally speaking, corporations are people.
Lenny November 11, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Sorry, but I didn't clearly connect Rowe v Wade to my point. I meant that the Constitution made no reference to abortion rights nor to the rights of the unborn. Yet Rowe v Wade is settled law without an amendment to the Constitution. So with respect to the lack of mention of corporations in the Constitution, that does not ipso facto mean that they can't be considered as people with free speech rights once the definition of what they claim to be is accepted by the court. Again, just as the church, the VFW, the Chamber of Commerce, etc are people too and have freedom of speech rights the same as individuals. Lastly, I don't doubt that you have no intention with your bill to restrict the media, but it is an inevitable consequence of what can be litigated. Large media corporations can favor candidates, endorse candidates, and provide free access to airwaves that carry tremendous value and they do so as corporations. That value can be quantified to a certain extent and thus can arguably be restricted under your proposal to limit corporate contributions. Remember, Citizens United was brought about by a suit against an arm of the media, a film seen to be favorable to Hillary Clinton's candidacy. In my opinion, the Supreme Court rightly considered that it is far too messy and complicated to try to restrict free speech by parsing the meaning and intent of every organization.
hammergjh November 11, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Yeah, "Citizens United" worked out great for Rove and company. 400 million dollars spent and they have absolutely nothing to show for it. Don't really think Rove's monied minions will be so easily duped next time around.
Lenny November 11, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Well I think that is the point hammergjh. All the money from the Soros PAC and other PACs supporting democrats and Rove's PAC and other PACs supporting Republicans spent 2 billion dollars and delivered the status quo. A democrat in the White House and a House controlled by Boehner. The Citizens United ruling did not have the effect some people feared, but instead removed complicated, Rube Goldberg like collection of rules nearly impossible to manage, and restrictive of free speech for certain people.
Kathy Lique November 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
The reason we are pursuing an amendment is that this cannot be corrected by the Congress. However, it CAN be corrected by the people. The people's vote still counts more than the Supreme Court.
Kathy Lique November 12, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Lenny, To your second comment, we can define what is a person. The courts have given certain HUMAN rights to corporations, but that does not have to stand. This election demonstrated, that you can't buy an election with your wallet against a less funded opponent working a smart ground game, but you can still buy the obligation of a politician, who won, using your money. This means that corporations and the wealthy can buy and run our country at which point we are no longer a democracy. I feel that that would be a great loss. Kathy
Lenny November 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Kathy, you are correct that you can buy a politician, but that can be done with or without your proposed amendment. Politicians have been bought with free plane rides to the Bahamas, a few hundred dollars stuffed into a bra, and free construction of an addition to their homes. Chris Dodd was bought by CountryWide through a lower than market rate loan. There is just no way you can stop such behavior by attempting to limit free speech which is what the Supreme Court recognized in its decision. Only a jail cell can accomplish a curtailment of such behavior. But hey, you are correct that you can change a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of a law by changing the constitution through the amendment process. But it was a process that was purposely made difficult so that a majority cannot so easily inflict its will against a minority. However it is not to say that I don't admire your pluck in trying to do so, even if I disagree with the change you seek. I think getting 2/3rds of both houses of Congress and 3/4ths of all state legislatures is a mighty tall order. The last one, the 27th, was passed 20 years ago in 1992, and that one took 203 years to pass! So, I guess all I can say is Good luck.

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