John Bonifaz Speaks at the Democracy Awakening

From April 16-18, Free Speech For People joined thousands of supporters and over 300 organizations to celebrate a Democracy Awakening. We mobilized in Washington, D.C. for a weekend long event to protect voting rights and get big money out of our politics.

We gathered at the All Souls Church in DC on Saturday, April 16th for a day of teach-ins, organizing, and enriching discussions.  At the end of Saturday’s teach-in, Free Speech For People co-founder John Bonifaz rallied the crowd listening to a panel on “Solutions”, sharing the growing demand for a 28th Amendment to reclaim democracy for all.

I’m honored to be with all of you. You know, all of you are change makers in this room—and the first thing you have as a capacity to be a change maker is to imagine a different reality. Imagine a different reality that enables us all to create that different reality. So I’m inspired to be among all of you.

I’m going to talk about two solutions in terms of dealing with big money in politics and unchecked corporate power. One is challenging the Citizens United ruling and the doctrines underlying that ruling with a 28th Amendment and to overturn it, that means ending the fiction of money equaling speech and ending the fiction of corporations being treated as people with constitutional rights.

And the second solution I’m going to talk about that you all together can get involved in, is creating test cases in the courts to challenge Citizens United and these doctrines, to fight back in the courts while we fight in the streets for a 28th Amendment. Now, when we launched Free Speech For People, Jeff Clements the co-founder with me at Free Speech For People, when we launched this on the day of Citizens United more than six years ago, there were plenty of skeptics who thought, “we could not build a movement for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution. We just can’t amend the Constitution anymore. That we can’t win.”

Well we have a message for the skeptics. This movement is growing everyday and we are already winning. We are already winning. Sixteen states have already called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. It’s not just in the states, but it’s happening via the state legislators.

Two of those states have put it on the ballot—Montana and Colorado had 75% voting for a 28th amendment to the constitution. We’re already winning in the cities, and towns, and the communities all across this country. More than 650 cities and towns all across this nation have joined the call for a constitutional amendment.

And then they said, “Well, they’ll never vote on it in the Congress, they’ll never vote on it”. Well, in December 2014, 54 United States Senators Voted for the Democracy For All Amendment. We are already winning!

The second solution, that I’m going to offer that we can all organize around, because we’ve got to keep pushing these resolutions calling for an amendment wherever you may be, and if you’re in a community that’s already called for it, push it again, we need to keep the pressure going.

But in addition to these resolutions and in addition to putting them on the ballot where we can, we need to help create the test cases in the courts—ad this is how all of you can help do that. At Free Speech For People, we’re prepared to help defend ordinances at the City Council level, Legislature, and bills at the state level that get passed that to  overturn Citizens United, that say “We’re going to ban corporate money in our elections” to bring it back to the court. And we also think that Super PAC spending-super pac spending that was unleashed by a lower court ruling-a DC circuit court of appeals ruling goes way beyond  what even the Citizens United majority envisioned and that can be challenged by passing laws that set overall spending limits, bringing it back to the Justices and judges all around this country. We need a parallel track, while we fight for an amendment,  we fight in the courts and we fight to we reclaim our democracy back.

Thank you so much!

John Bonifaz spoke on Saturday, April 16 at the All Souls Church in Washington DC.
For more information on the Democracy Awakening, click here.

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