More than seven million voters weighed in directly with their views regarding unlimited money in elections and corporate constitutional rights by ballot measure. From Massachusetts to Montana to Colorado, what they had to say was clear: corporations are not people, money is not free speech!
Voters in 170 Massachusetts cities and towns fought back Tuesday against the barrage of negative ads that marked the 2012 political season, backing a ballot measure that supports a constitutional amendment permitting limits on political spending and affirming that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people.
“Massachusetts voters, along with their counterparts in Colorado, Montana, and dozens of cities across the country, sent an unequivocal message that they are fed up with big money in politics and want a fundamental overhaul of the system,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “Citizens understand that despite what the Supreme Court has said in Citizens United, and other earlier decisions, money is not protected speech under the 1st Amendment and corporations should not have the same rights as ‘we the people.’”
Voters in just under half of Massachusetts towns considered the Democracy Amendment ballot measure supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn 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 have approved the measure by roughly 79%. (The results were calculated through data reported by the Boston Globe on its election results page.)
“Support for the ballot measure cut across Democrat and Republican Party lines. Areas like the Cape, Essex County, and Norfolk County that supported Senator Brown and Mitt Romney also supported the Democracy Amendment in large numbers. The same can be said about regions that supported President Obama and Elizabeth Warren. This is truly a bi-partisan issue,” said Cynthia Franklin of Move to Amend.
73 of Massachusetts municipalities as well as the Massachusetts state legislature have already endorsed a similar amendment. Nationwide over 300 municipalities, 22 attorney’s general, and 9 states have called for such an amendment.
“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 Wilmot.
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. Details on those measures can be found here.