As we prepare for the beginnings of a new year, we look back on this year’s progress and our many achievements. With your help, we have reached many milestones in our work to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy. To show your support, we urge you to donate to our end of year campaign, here.
Here is an overview of all that we have achieved together this year:
The Constitutional Amendment Movement Reached the Senate Floor
On September 11, 2014, 54 US Senators voted to support the Democracy For All Amendment, which would overturn the Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Buckley, and would allow for overall campaign spending limits in our elections. This historic vote marked a huge victory for the constitutional amendment movement and Free Speech For People played a critical leadership role in making this happen. The vote reflects the growing power of this grassroots movement with 16 states and more than 550 cities and towns on record in support of an amendment.
We continued our leadership in building a democracy movement with cross-partisan appeal.
Free Speech For People continued to serve as a unique leader in making the transpartisan case for ending the big money dominance of our politics. This work included:
- Issuing our updated Across the Aisle report, which documented the more than 100 Republican state officials on record calling for a constitutional amendment to reclaim our democracy;
- Demonstrating that the corrupting influence of unlimited expenditures in elections impacts both parties, and insisting that any constitutional amendment to overhaul this system treat equally incorporated unions and for-profit corporations;
- Highlighting, via social media and video outreach, Republican voices in support of an amendment.
<Free Speech For People launched its Legal Advocacy Program this year.
This work included:
- Challenging corporate claims to religious rights under the US Constitution: In January 2014, with the launch of our Legal Advocacy Program, Free Speech For People filed an amicus brief before the US Supreme Court in the Conestoga Wood Specialties v Burwell case, which, like its companion case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, involved claims of corporate rights to religious expression. On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling finding that closely-held corporations have religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and could be exempt from the contraceptive care requirement of the Affordable Care Act based on the religious objections of the corporations. The Court’s ruling now dangerously opens the door to corporate claims for exemptions from federal civil rights, environmental, safety, and consumer protection laws, among others. We expect to be involved in new cases now likely to emerge where corporations claim religious rights which exempt them from coverage of various public interest laws.
- Continuing to advance political equality interests in defense of campaign finance limits: On July 1, 2014, we submitted an amicus brief before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Lair v. Motl, a challenge to Montana’s campaign contribution limits. We argue that these limits are necessary to protect the constitutional promise of political equality for all, regardless of access to wealth.
- Defending a living wage law against corporate claims of constitutional rights: On October 2, 2014, we filed an amicus brief in federal court in Seattle in defense of the city’s new living wage ordinance. We started a petition in support of Seattle’s living wage law, which can be signed here.
- Challenging Monsanto’s claim of a free speech right to hide GMOs in our food: On November 14, 2014, we filed an amicus brief before the federal district court in Vermont in defense of Vermont’s recently-passed law requiring the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering.
- Defending the SEC’s anti pay-to-play rules: On August 29, 2014, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in support of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s anti-“pay-to-play” rule for investment advisers.
Free Speech For People led the work of advancing a new jurisprudence in defense of our democracy
On November 7, 2014, in partnership with Harvard Law School, we convened our first symposium, entitled “Advancing a New Jurisprudence for American Self-Government and Democracy.” We brought together prominent constitutional law professors and attorneys interested in creating new scholarship and legal arguments challenging the doctrines underlying the Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Buckley rulings. The all day symposium included a keynote speech by Senator Jon Tester of Montana, which can be accessed here. A full recap is available here.
Free Speech For People’s Co-Founder and Board Chair Jeff Clements Released the New Edition of Corporations Are Not People.
- On August 11, 2014, we celebrated the release of the new revised edition of Jeff Clements’s book, Corporations Are Not People, which, like the first edition, has proven to be an incredibly valuable public education and organizing vehicle for the growing movement to challenge unchecked corporate power and end the big money dominance of our elections. Jeff has spent the past three months hitting the road to bring the message of this book, Free Speech For People, and the overall movement to people across the country, and we have joined him in co-sponsoring many of his speaking events. Watch Jeff Clements speak about his updated book at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.
We joined Rhana Bazzini in Tallahassee, Florida to march in the footsteps of the great, Doris “Granny D” Haddock, to get money out of politics.
- On December 3, Free Speech For People joined our national coalition partners for the final leg of Rhana’s 430 mile walk calling for a Constitutional Amendment.
So what is coming in the New Year?
- Free Speech For People will engage in further legal advocacy to push back in the courts to challenge unlimited campaign spending and the fabrication of corporate constitutional rights.
- We will expand our organizing and public education efforts in conservative communities to ensure that the constitutional amendment movement will be framed for what it really is: a transpartisan populist movement.
- We will continue to coordinate with our allies in the amendment movement and in the legal community to broaden further the support for overturning Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Buckley and for restoring democracy to the people.
Join us in the New Year!
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