What will it take to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United? Perhaps a viral video! Here is “It’s Viral,” with The Nation’s own Katrina vanden Heuvel, Jim Hightower and more. Exec produced by the We the People Campaign. Think it’ll work? And while you’re thinking, repost!
Two years ago, the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, struck down federal limits on corporate and union political spending. As we can see from the wealth war that is the GOP primary campaign, Citizens United is serious stuff. Luckily, so is the movement to overturn the ruling, or at least reverse its effects. Last month it was Los Angeles; last week, New York CIty’s City Council passed a resolution that calls for an amendment “so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech,” and called on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution.
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) has already proposed such an amendment. Udall’s measure would reverse both Citizens United and the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision (which equated campaign money with speech). There’s a similar proposal, introduced by Representative Betty Sutton (D-OH) in the House.
On the legal front, Montanan state law bans corporate spending in elections. That law was passed by folks who remembered coal company “bagmen” delivering cash (literally in bags) to key lawmakers every month. Earlier this month, the Montana State Supreme Court rejected Citizens United, declaring their state law still valid and in effect. This sets up what could be a new challenge to the 2010 case at the federal level. And just this Monday, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed a decision upholding a ban on foreign nationals’ donating money to political candidates. One consequence of that decision could be that the US Chamber of Commerce is finally forced to prove that it doesn’t launder campaign cash from foreign-owned corporations and governments. The Christian Science Monitor News Service says it “signals a possible retreat—in a presidential election year—from the expansive free speech principles championed by the high court.”
Between now and the anniversary of the 2010 ruling on January 21, campaigns across the country are heating up. The “It’s Viral” video is going viral—of course. (The We The People Campaign is also on Facebook.) MoveToAmend.org is keeping a list of resolutions and ordinances abolishing corporate personhood (New York joins Los Angeles; Missoula; Boulder; Madison; and Dane County, Wisconsin.)
Next week will be busy—Common Cause is launching an “Amend 2012” campaign, laying out how people can get “voter instruction” measures on state ballots in the same way, they say, that voters guided the drafting of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the passage of the Bill of Rights. People for the American Way has issued a new report: “Citizens Blindsided.” You can download the PDF here and read up.
Prefer direct action? Move to Amend and others plan to “Occupy the Courts” on January 20. There is a large demonstration planned at the US Supreme Court, plus actions by seventy-five local/regional groups. The next day, January 21, Occupy the Corporations with Public Citizen and others target Bank of America. Tell me what’s happening where you are, below, in the comments. It’s going to be a long year.
UPDATE: MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan and the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington will be talking about this with Deepak Chopra at ABC Home Carpet in New York Tuesday night. I’ll be there. And you can be too—upload your videos or ask a question here.