On Thursday, September 11, 2014, the U.S. Senate voted 54 to 42 on legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. A majority of senators voiced their support (along with that of a solid majority of Americans) for a remedy to a Supreme Court decision that declared money is free speech. Again, because of a Republican filibuster, it needed 60 votes to advance. During debate on this amendment earlier in the week, Senator Elizabeth Warren summed up the grim situation we face:
“When 32 people can outspend 3.7 million citizens, our democracy is in real danger.” Read her full floor speech here.
At the same time the Senate was on the verge of this vote, author Jeff Clements was at the WNDC presenting his new book titled Corporations are not People. Mr. Clements is co-founder and chair of the board of Free Speech for People
A national non-partisan campaign formed in 2010 to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, challenge excessive corporate power, and strengthen American democracy.
Money is NOT speech,” he proclaimed, “it is POWER – an Oligarchy or Plutocracy.” When ordinary citizens have little or no influence in our electoral system, Clements said, they are reduced to mere spectators, so they “check out” and don’t vote. When corporations dominate our government, he explained,” they pretty much get what they want. Virtually every significant issue now reflects a corporate agenda.”
Examples where these perks trickle down to benefit these corporations include decisions and legislation affecting religion and the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision and health, environmental, and minimum wage laws. He further cited Chevron Oil, which dropped $2.5 million into the PAC for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has promised” to oppose cutting oil and gas subsidies and to block action on the climate change catastrophe.
Mr. Clements was hopeful for a positive outcome for the Twenty-eighth Amendment in the Senate that day, but alas, it was not to be. Visit Free Speech for People to learn what more We the People can do to restore our democracy. At its June convention the National Federation of Democratic Women adopted the WNDC resolution we submitted supporting this amendment. Speech available here.
Shelly Livingston, Public Policy Committee