Everyone agrees that the IRS screwed up --- but as Chris Hayes of MSNBC makes clear in this video, the real, underlying problem is that the Citizens United decision took our system of fair-play rules that kept tax-exempt groups out of our elections and "blew it out of the water." Watch this video and join us together with Common Cause to demand that Congress focus on the core problem: Citizens United!
By Jeffrey D. Clements, Principal, Clements Law Office, LLC. Mr. Clements filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case on behalf of several democracy advocacy organizations, and serves as general counsel of Free Speech for People. He is also author of the ACS Issue Brief, "Beyond Citizens United v.
December 22, 2010
Most Valuable Idea: Amend the Constitution
Experts call for Constitutional amendment to take back democracy from corporations
Former Attorneys General and Law Professors Call on Congress to Examine Constitutional Amendment To Reverse Citizens United
Bipartisan Group of Former Attorneys General and Law Professors Calls on Congress to Examine Constitutional Amendment To Reverse Citizens United
By SCOTT TUROW
Published: August 17, 2010
The New York Times
"With all respect to Wanda Brandstetter, the Constitutional amendment this nation most urgently requires is one that reverses the notion that unrestricted political spending deserves protection as free speech. Without that, who could fault a juror for looking around at contemporary political life and feeling that Rod Blagojevich had been unfairly singled out?"
By David Swanson
The DISCLOSE Act, a bill passed by the House that would regulate corporate election spending was blocked in the Senate on Thursday by a filibuster -- momentum is building to eliminate that anti-democratic tool.
By Radhika Balakrishnan and James Heintz, Huffington Post
This January the U.S. Supreme Court issued a shattering ruling that will intensify corporate influence in our democracy to an unprecedented degree. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that government restrictions on corporate election spending are unconstitutional because such restrictions violated corporations' right to free speech as set out in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights. In effect, the Court was evoking a core civil right to advance corporate power. This is a dangerous precedent, one that will undermine the obligation of the government to respect and protect human rights by giving corporations full reign to advance their own interests in the democratic - yet increasingly plutocratic - United States.
The idea that corporations have the same rights as you and me comes from a Supreme Court decision over 120 years ago - Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) - the focus of which was whether railroads could deduct their debts from the value of their property for tax purposes. The Supreme Court laid down a much broader ruling, effectively stating that corporations should enjoy the same equal protections under the law as individuals. Equal protection under the law was spelled out in the 14th Amendment which was adopted following the Civil War. The original motivation for the amendment had little to do with advancing corporate influence. It overturned the Dred Scott decision (in which slaves were denied citizenship) and laid the groundwork for ending segregation in the U.S. and subsequent civil rights laws.
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