Editorial

The Berkshire Eagle

December 3, 2011

Passage of a constitutional amendment involves a trip down a long and pothole-strewn road, but if the outcome would mean the overturning of a cynical U.S. Supreme Court decision enabling corporations to corrupt election campaigns with a flood of cash the trip is worth it. The sooner it begins the better.

John Bonifaz, a constitutional lawyer and voting rights activist, spoke in Pittsfield Thursday of the need to reverse the January 2010 court ruling that corporations are people and enjoy the same free speech rights accorded citizens under the First Amendment. By the all-too-familiar 5-4 vote, the court’s right-wing majority tossed precedent and logic to the wind and replaced them with politics, enabling corporations, which as Mr. Bonifaz observed are “artificial entities,” to overwhelm the will of the people through money alone.

Special interest money has been a corrupting influence in America for decades, enabling polluters to buy favorable legislation, Wall Street to fend off government oversight, and drug manufacturers to dilute regulation, to offer a few examples. Both Democrats and Republicans share blame and responsibility. This problem became geometrically worse after one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history, and the flood of corporate money paying for deceitful, misleading campaign ads that polluted the 2010 national campaign will do even more damage in 2012.

But while it is too late to save the 2012 campaign, Mr. Bonifaz’s Free Speech for People, the campaign for a 28th amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decision, offers hope that a court ruling he described as a “direct threat to our elections and to our democracy” will someday be reversed. Berkshire and Massachusetts voters should urge their state and federal representatives to help get this important process rolling forward.

Read the article, here.