Social Policy & Programs Consulting
Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice
Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting ~ Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803 ~ Pittsburgh, PA 15227 ~ 412-310-4886 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley ~ All rights reserved
Nationwide Grassroots Project Will Amend U.S. Constitution
to End Corporate Power in Elections
Restore American democracy. Corporations are not people.
March 12, 2012
The Supreme Court Citizens United decision declared that corporations are people, and now megabucks corporations own our politicians and our democracy. The Wolf PAC is working in several states for a constitutional amendment to change that. You can help.
Who inspires you? Abolitionists? Suffragists? Union organizers? Civil rights workers? Peace activists? Occupiers? They all have one thing in common. They were ordinary people faced with extraordinary injustice. Then they stood up, walked out of their comfort zones, and into history. They made the world better for all of us. Now we can all join them.
Thanks to our right-wing activist Supreme Court, corporations and billionaires now legally and proudly own our politicians. Our elected representatives no longer have to pretend that they give two hoots about us. Americans’ confidence in our public institutions is at an all-time low. But there is a way to turn things around. There are people already working on it. And we need your help.
Citizens United Supreme Court Decision
First, some background. Citizens United is a nonprofit corporation. In 2008, CU produced a video that strongly criticized Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Federal Election Commission prohibited CU from releasing the video, claiming that it violated various federal campaign finance laws. CU claimed that the FEC violated its free speech rights by banning the video, and sued the FEC. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. In its typical 5-4 decision, the court declared that money is equal to speech and that corporations are entitled to spend as much “speech” as they like to influence elections. That statement equates corporations with people.
How the decision affects us
So, now we have a slew of multinational megabucks corporations whose leaders spend billions of dollars to buy our politicians and our elections. Yes, labor unions and other non-charitable nonprofit corporations also fall under the Citizens United ruling, but they can’t come close to spending the money that the banks, oil companies, and other big guys have. Now, the corporate political action committees have more money to spend on a campaign than the candidates themselves have. And that much money gives corporations the power to control a campaign’s message, issues, and the tone of our national conversation.
We’re already seeing that control. No matter what issue concerns you, chances are that Congress is not representing your interests. Congressional and state politicians lead efforts to abolish child labor laws, labor unions, public aid programs, the minimum wage, workplace health and safety measures, and environmental protection regulations, to criminalize birth control and poverty, and to prohibit American citizens from voting, getting an education, and marrying the partners they choose.
They want to destroy everything that created the American middle class.
And they’re always finding new ways to intrude into your life.
Checks and Balances
Since the Supreme Court has spoken, we have only one solution. We can use the checks and balances that our founders so wisely built into the Constitution. We the People can amend the Constitution to declare that corporations are not people. The Constitution’s Article V describes the methods of adopting amendments. The ornate 18th century writing style can be difficult, so I’ll paraphrase:
In order to change the Constitution, an amendment must be proposed and ratified.
There are two ways to propose an amendment.
1. Two-thirds of each house of Congress (290 House members and 67 Senators) can pass a proposed amendment. OR
2. Two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures can ask Congress to convene a convention of state delegations to propose and consider potential amendments.
THEN there are two ways to ratify the proposal.
1. Three-quarters (38) of the state legislatures OR
2. Three-quarters (38) of the state delegations at the convention can ratify the proposed amendment(s).
Then the amendment(s) are valid parts of the constitution.
There are 27 constitutional amendments, including the Bill of Rights. Currently, there are 139 amendments pending before Congress, including five on corporate speech, three on flag desecration, nine on congressional term limits, and 24 on balancing the federal budget. Nothing moves in Congress unless someone pushes it, so don’t look for action on any of them. Since the Citizens United decision allows corporations to buy politicians, we can’t count on Congress to pass an amendment that would kill its golden goose, so we’ll have to use the convention method.
This is an enormous project. We will have to convince the majority of state legislators – in 34 states – to ask Congress to order a convention. Then we have to convince Congress to approve the convention, organize the convention itself, agree on the amendment’s precise wording, and convince convention delegates to accept the proposal. Then we have to convince either 38 state convention delegations or 38 state legislatures to ratify the proposed amendment.
It is possible that this much public pressure can convince Congress to propose the amendment on its own. That strategy succeeded when organizers worked for the 17th amendment – the direct election of senators – in 1913.
Be prepared for a fight. The corporations will not roll over and play dead. It could take as much as ten years and cost a billion dollars. But if we don’t do it, things will only get worse. It took a long time to get into this situation, and it will take a long time to get out of it.
The Wolf PAC
Fortunately, we’re not all wandering around blindly. There are already folks working on it. The Wolf PAC is a political action committee whose only goal is to pass a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that corporations are not people. Wolf PAC planning and outreach events are scheduled in several states, and working groups are rising in even more locations. There’s already been quite a bit of activity in Connecticut.
How You Can Help
Every journey starts with a single step, and we can each take that step.
Working groups need
Whatever your skill, talent, and availability level, there’s a place for you.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned people can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead –
For more information:
U.S. Supreme Court decision: Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission
The Wolf PAC
Wolf PAC Facebook Page
State Legislature Websites
U.S. House of Representatives
Read the U.S. Constitution