The Berkshire Eagle

Scott Stafford


PITTSFIELD — The campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to define free speech and other rights as afforded to people, not corporations, came to the Berkshires on Thursday night.

John C. Bonifaz, a constitutional lawyer and voting rights activist, has been campaigning for a 28th amendment to the Constitution, which clarifies that “we the people are people, not corporations” since the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling giving corporate entities the same free speech rights as individuals.

He said the ruling “unleashed a torrent of millions and millions of dollars” into the U.S. election and governing systems resulting in “a direct threat to our elections and to our democracy.”

The presentation, sponsored by Occupy the Berkshires, was attended by more than 150 people.

To put the effect of the ruling into perspective, he noted that the 2008 presidential and congressional elections generated about $5 billion in campaign spending.

In 2008, the top Fortune 100 companies totaled roughly $600 billion in profits.

“Imagine if they spent just 2 percent of that in the next election,” Bonifaz said. “That would more than double the amount spent in 2008 on all the campaigns for president and Congress combined.”

“That is the threat we now face,” he continued. “It’s a question of whether we allow ‘we the people’ to be ‘we the corporations.’ ”

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