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Ear to the Ground

Legislators and Activists Mount Opposition to Citizens United

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Posted on Apr 21, 2012
Caveman Chuck Coker (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Detail of the U.S. Constitution.

Good news for democracy: Lawmakers at all levels of government met with activists on Capitol Hill this week to sign a “Declaration for Democracy” in support of the effort to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. That decision made legal unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, author of one of the proposed amendments affecting the decision, said to the crowd:

The U.S. Constitution has served us very well, but when the Supreme Court says, for purposes of the First Amendment, that corporations are people, that writing checks from the company’s bank account is constitutionally protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger. There comes a time when an issue is so important that the only way to address it is by constitutional amendment.

—ARK

Suzanne Merkelson at United Republic:

Each member echoed Sanders, especially focusing on the momentum building across the country for such an amendment. Hawaii, New Mexico, and this week, Vermont, have all passed resolutions in their state legislatures calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United. They’re joined by over 147 cities nationwide that have passed resolutions. The summit highlighted the Resolutions Week initiative spearheaded by Public Citizen and other organizations, aimed at passing local resolutions the week of June 11.

“We have developing here a grassroots movement,” [Democratic congressman Tom] Udall said.

The speakers had nothing but vitriol for Citizens United, which Schumer derided as the “worst [Supreme Court] decision since Plessy v. Ferguson,” which was the 1896 ruling that supported “separate but equal” racial segregation.

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By heterochromatic, April 25, 2012 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Ana—- OK, then…. I had been taught that there were ethical systems that were
independent of the Gods, but I think I’ve grasped your poin t after that
clarification.


thanks.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 25, 2012 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

heterochromatic, April 24 at 3:19 pm:

Ana—- and when you posit that rich people will commit acts harming those with
less

“...and may well use it to frustrate my will or injure my interests—individually or as
an element of class or caste war…..

am I wrong to think that you find such use to be ethically transgressive?

Not necessarily.  I might be bad, and it might be ethically proper to frustrate my will and injure my interests.  Ethics drags in the gods, who speak ambiguously.  Some have heard them advocating such social configurations as tyranny, empire and slavery.  These are personally repugnant to me, but for personal reasons. I will not venture to call the gods in, since they seem to be rather unreliable.

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By Shenonymous, April 25, 2012 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

Maybe you didn’t read very well…
Senators Sanders was joined by
Tom Udall (D-NM),
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and
Tom Udall (D-NM), as well as
Democratic Reps. John Conyers (Mich.),
Donna Edwards (Md.),
Keith Ellison (Minn.),
Rush Holt (N.J.),
John Sarbanes (Md.),
Betty Sutton (Ohio),
Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas),
Ted Deutch (Fla.),
Hank Johnson (Ga.),
Peter Welch (Vt.), and
David Cicilline (R.I.).
“Many have introduced constitutional amendments of their own; all
signed on to the declaration and expressed their support for the
movement.”  These legislators need to be joined by hundreds in the
House and Senate.  Their constituents need to let them know!

“With this vehicle, we are going to organize America and all Americans
are central to that success,” said Ellison. “We need people to take
personal responsibility…this has to be a mass action.”

Stop whining.  Do something.

Report this

By litlpeep, April 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

The article inadvertently makes very clear that two US Democratic Senators joined; where are the other 49?  Ditto with the few Representatives.

Obviously the D party is only interested in echoing the popular uprising in a token manner; in other words, doing what Democrats do best: follow the crowds.

Terribly like the Republicans.

Both major parties are disgusting disappointments, their blind faith “followers” not even noticing they are the only leaders those parties have.

No wonder the nation is committing suicide with all deliberate speed.

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By heterochromatic, April 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Ana—- and when you posit that rich people will commit acts harming those with
less

“...and may well use it to frustrate my will or injure my interests—individually or as
an element of class or caste war…..


am I wrong to think that you find such use to be ethically transgressive?

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic—The fact that A harms B does not necessarily mean that A is morally inferior to B.  Need I post a lifeboat scenario?

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 24, 2012 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

Ana——-
being rich does not imply having harmful influence

Sure it does.  At least, it does for me.
———

If I’ve misunderstood this (and the rest of the statement) and it’s not a
denunciation saying that they’re more powerful and they’re likely to use that power
to harm the less rich and less powerful because it is in their interest to do just
that, then I’m sorry to failed to grasp your meaning.

I take you seriously and I do try to engage you with honesty.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 24, 2012 at 5:30 am Link to this comment

heterochromatic, April 23 at 9:37 am:

Ana—I did read what you wrote and replied to what was within your writing.

Saying it doesn’t make it so.  In particular, you seem to be locked into regarding the issue I was trying to discuss as a critique of persons rather than what it is, a critique of systems and relations.  I see no point in a ritual moralizing denunciation of the rich and powerful, if we’re just going to continue to serve them anyway, as popular as that ritual might be.  But if that’s what you like, you have plenty of company and need not notice my little interjections.

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By heterochromatic, April 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

and your daffynition of non-profit corporation?

public corporations?

charities?

Report this

By gerard, April 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

Gerard’s copyrighted definition of “corporation”. devised deviously for the benefit of one “hetero” who posts constantly devious comments om a political blog erroniously called “Truthdig” which attempts to sponsor rational discussion on political issues with people who mostly don’t know the meaning of the word.

  Corporation: A body of legalized thieves whose main interest is to take from the poor and give to the rich by a process called “the market” where the only purpose is to “make” money by moving it from one place to another. This “making” is accomplished through the use of two main methods:
  buying real estate cheap and selling it later at inflated prices or lending money at “interest”, then foreclosing on buyers who lose their jobs and can’t pay the loans;
  or by making things useful, useless, helpful or harmful indiscriminately,through processing resources stolen from third world countries or mined from Nature domestically and reprocessed without regard to safety or danger (a process known as “exploitation”) or “manufacturing” to produce products or machinery that usually causes more harm to people than good.
  Corporations are said to “create jobs”—but only when “the economy is good.”  When the economy turns “bad” (for reasons generally believed to have no connection with corporations or bankers), jobs “dry up” as if by accident, and corporations couldn’t care less what happens to “the public”—a polyglot mixture of undereducated “workers” who (unlike the “upper” class) do not “deserve” to enjoy the minimum essentials of life such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water and adequate health care, because they are lazy, looking for a handout, and there are too many of them anyway, so .......
  The Brits used to call them “lesser breeds without the law” but that expression went out of style some time ago.
  For more on “corporations” see the Gerard Updated
Thesaurus, published by Learn and Burn, Inc. a Torture 500 Company, 10 Stone Wall Street, NYC.

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By heterochromatic, April 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

number 9 ?

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By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By berniem, April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Hetero- how ever do you manage that neat trick of talking out your ass on any and all topics? Granted, you know all, have seen all, and been everywhere, and done everything, but even so, the butt-hole verbalizing trick is just the greatest! Instead of the usual inane pronouncements perhaps you should inform yourself in the event that you may have missed some important tidbits while engaged in your diatribes.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

gerard—-huge sums of dollars they more or less stole from other “collections
of citizens” by manipulating markets…..

....dollars that those
“collections of citizens” individually might otherwise have used to support votes
for measures that worked to benefit the general welfare (as understood in the
Constitution)......

——


glad to see that words get away from all of us and that you’re giving us a
demonstration…....


—————-


maybe you can look up the definition of “corporation” g and then explain
where in the definition it mentions that crap about stealing and
manipulation…...


maybe you might evn find out how many corporations are extant in the US and
then give us some figures on what percentage of them manipulate markets and
steal….......


doing that might help you get them words you’re penning back under some
kinda rational control and you’ll stop blindly grabbing the elephant’s tail and
telling us all how elephants are just like snakes


————

Report this

By gerard, April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

Somebody recently seemed to be referring to the so-called “Citizens United” ruling as no more than “political speech funded by collections of citizens.”  You gotta watch or words get away from you. 
  This ruling by the Supremes actually entitles corporations (a particular kind of citizens united) to collect money, to aggregate huge sums of dollars they more or less stole from other “collections of citizens” by manipulating markets, and to move those dollars into “corporate profits”—dollars that those
“collections of citizens” individually might otherwise have used to support votes for measures that worked to benefit the general welfare (as understood in the Constitution).
  Since corporations are noticeably not interested in the general welfare (as understood in the Constitution), the money they take as corporate profits (which they aggregate into huge contributions) they invest to fund measures that may not be at all in the public interest.
  Thus the people who have no money to invest in corporations lose power to influence their government while 9 people on the Supreme Court decide that corporations (acting as “collections of people”) can throw any election toward corporate interests, which endows collections of richer people(via Supreme Court special dispensation) with the “right” to dominate elections. If you ask why, the answer will be “Because we said so!”
  That’s democracy?

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By heterochromatic, April 23, 2012 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Ana—I did read what you wrote and replied to what was within your writing.

Report this

By omop, April 23, 2012 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

No one really, really has come up with the answer to “where is the beef”.

Over $500 billion already spent in Afghanistan, thousands killed and
crippled for life and a commitment to “be there” till 2024 [first got there in
2001] and we is still talking citizens united et enslavement.

Why not day dream as to possibly how Americans could have benefited
from say half that $500 billion spent on education at all in the 50 states.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 23, 2012 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

Heterochromatic—You might want to read what I actually wrote.  I did not say anything about any individual’s character, morals, or destination.

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

Ana—- you’re assigning people to Hell based on nothing more than an o’erbroad
interpretation of Acton’s—power tends to corrupt….replacing it with a flat “money
corrupts”.

some of them ol’ German divines used to go around gassing that poverty was a
mark of God’s disfavor of sinners….and you’re cracking wind of a similar sort
about folks with money.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

We’re not talking about people ‘sucking’.  We’re talking about whether one person has a harmful influence on another’s life, which may be almost inevitable given the configuration of the social order they live in.  I doubt if I actually influence other people’s lives very much, however.

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Ana——-  so if someone is a lot poorer than you, then you suck?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic, April 22 at 8:15 am:

being rich does not imply having harmful influence

Sure it does.  At least, it does for me.  Given our political and social life as it is, if someone is significantly richer than I am, then that person has significantly more power than I do and may well use it to frustrate my will or injure my interests—individually or as an element of class or caste war.

Shenonymous and MeHere—I think we have to pick our battles.  I don’t see the point of going to a great effort to reform liberal capitalism.  The resistance will be terrific and in the end, even if reformed, it will only degenerate again as its ‘natural aristocracy’ fights, lies, schemes and steals for power and wealth.

It is true that it is beyond all reason to say that a creation of the state cannot be regulated or extinguished by the state, but this folly is mere decor, and there are many such follies.  The fault is more basic.

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

then you best not cross the Rubicon

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By gerard, April 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

hetero—and what if I am legion?

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

gerard—-  In the interests of sanity, I hereby reserve the right to make jokes,
make fun of, satirize, use metaphorical analogies, point out absurdities and
concoct double meanings and overstatements under my rights to freedom of
speech—


you ain’t got no right ta if’n you ain’t naturally a person.

Report this

By gerard, April 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Gerard’e Emancipation Proclamation:

  In the interests of sanity, I hereby reserve the right to make jokes, make fun of, satirize, use metaphorical analogies, point out absurdities and concoct double meanings and overstatements under my rights to freedom of speech—all the while trying to avoid pain, slander, infringement of copyright and treading on over-sensitive toes. My decision is based on two premises: 
  1. That people need to laugh, especially when the human situation becomes so absurdly messed up that it is tragic.
  2. People need to laugh at themselves, especially when they take the opportunity to air their prejudices publicly in a manner so deadlly-serious that a poke from the gods of self-righteousness dictates an approriate response.
  3. My entries are no doubt less harmful than the plethora of insulting “fuck yous!” and “ass-holes” that bring rational thought here to a grinding halt.

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By Alex, April 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congressman Sarbanes also signed the Declaration and is doing a lot to combat
Citizens United. Check it out and support the cause:
https://www.grassrootsdonor.com

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

bern-Seems to me that there are at least two members of the SCOTUS eligible for
impeachment for conflict of interest.


WTF are you on about? are you really that clueless ?


follow your idiotic strictures and Bradley Manning is due to face a firing squad.

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By berniem, April 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Seems to me that there are at least two members of the SCOTUS eligible for impeachment for conflict of interest and, possibly, influence peddling. I’m sure such an approach may be more viable than attempting to got a constitutional amendment or significant legislation passed through a congress plagued with the disease of reaction and, unfortunately, a resurgent confederate bloc and all the negativity such entails. FREE BRADLEY MANNING!!!!

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

and BTW—- would you have ruled that “Hilary-the Movie” could not have been
shown on television to people willing to pay for the pleasure of watching the
thing?


or is that something that you’ve not thought about?

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

gerard—- you want to try telling us what’s obscene about refusing to ban political
speech funded by collections of citizens?

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By gerard, April 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

More power to all those who work in any way to destroy the absurd and obscene judgment that corporations have a legal right to have an overwhelming financial effect upon elections for public office. 
  Talk about the “separaton of church and state.”  What about the “separation of courts from elections” or “separation of jurisdictional from electoral?”
  Otherwise we might as well save a lot of time and money and just have the Supremes appoint candidates of their choice to offices as and when they think it is necessary. That way we would have a Supreme Democracy.  What’s not to love?

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 22, 2012 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 22 at 6:11 am – You’re probably right, but any
obstacle will procrastinate action even if what you say is inevitable,
that will give just that extra nanosecond to allow some clever mind(s)
to figure out how to circumvent the rich and powerful. All insurrections
that have been successful started somewhere in the doldrums of
repression.  By small incremental action things, human life, changes,
the history books are full of such stories.

Seems to me that a defeatist attitude is the source for contributing to
one’s own enslavement.  It could be a comfortable state of mind to be
in for some, but I think many many more would not be.

Report this

By MeHere, April 22, 2012 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

As Anarcissie says, this is a false battle. Before the Citizens United ruling, the two parties got their campaign money one way or the other. The only thing that has changed is that now the total amount of funding going to both parties is larger. (Obama went along with it.) The equation has not changed. If the signers of the declaration to overturn the S. Court ruling wanted to work for democracy, they would focus on the broader issues of campaign finance reform and elections in general. It looks like the elimination of Citizens United could make big interests the real winners since they may not have to invest so much in the future in order to get the same results.

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By bigchin, April 22, 2012 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oops, too late…

the time to make a difference was BEFORE all those Democrats voted to confirm the Scalia’s and Alito’s and Roberts’s.  Did you vote for Scalia?  No… I didn’t either but every Democrat in the Senate did… the Dems didn’t even call for a cloture vote on Roberts… and that says nothing of the lower and appellate courts which, over the past 3 decades, have been packed with conservative jurists through Democratic collusion and indifference.

Then again, Kagan’s vote to effectively end Miranda warnings and Sotomayor’s recent majority opinion on why torture victims can only sue individuals and not the coporate personhoods who employ them, blows the whole “SCOTUS needs a Democratic president for good appointments” argument all to hell.

Citizens United will NEVER be overturned and the false “hope” you offer by such articles is beyond grim, it is offensive. 

Go ahead and keep pretending “we” can get our democracy back.  Keep that head in the sand so they can take even more of it from us…

and keep pretending you have a friend in Democrats.

You don’t.

The “success” that has been attributed to the GOP since Reagan was no “success” at all, it was a total failure of the Democratic Party to preserve and extend FDR’s New Deal liberalism.

And now it’s dead.

Do not vote for Dems or Repubs.

Vote for ANYONE else.

Bring those prevaricating bastards to their knees and we might begin, just begin, to have a decent chance for survival.  Keep voting for Democrats like Obama and watch the end draw closer faster.

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By heterochromatic, April 22, 2012 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

being rich does not imply having harmful influence and
Citizens United does not absurdly treat corporations as
natural person but rather states that corporations may
not be prevented from speaking in the political
process.

http://tinyurl.com/ykn94vp


corporations have had rights as artificial persons in
this country about as long as it’s been a country.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 22, 2012 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

This seems like a false battle to me.  While it is absurd to treat a corporation as a natural person, enacting some law to prevent it is not going to stop the rich from being rich and having undue and harmful political influence.  If deprived of corporations, they’ll simply organize their power in a different way.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 22, 2012 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

The only way to effect Supreme Court change is through Congressional
legislation. In this case, the Supreme Court has the foundational agency
of the corporate world with the absolute partisan support of the Republi-
can Party through the Republican politicians in both the House and the
Senate.  The only way to upset the imbalance of power, power which
decidedly is with the Republicans who have a majority in the House and
have a close but crucial only three seats less than the Democrats that
nearly divides the Senate that renders the consequential choking of all
progressive Democratic, liberal legislation, is to replace them electorally
at the local level.  It must never be forgotten that the Republican Party is
the Party Against the People.

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By iyoumeweus, April 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Corporations, companies, businesses, limited liability
concerns and any other similar organization organized
for profit are to be created by the individual states
and can be regulated by all levels of shall government
in accordance with state and federal laws, rules and
regulations.  Under no circumstances they be
considered or equated with being a natural person(s),
individual (s) or citizen(s).

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By heterochromatic, April 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

there ain’t gonna be any amendment….. but drum up enough support and maybe
someone will introduce some useful legislation.


and just maybe SCOTUS can be intimidated a bit , maybe be a little less sweeping
in other decisions, even one being kicked around at present.

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