Posted on January 16, 2013 (November 20, 2020) Democracy Amendments Share: MassLive has an article that discusses in detail our forthcoming campaign to reform state corporate charter laws. Here’s an excerpt, below. Citizens United opponent ‘Free Speech for People’ wants states to ban companies from political expenditures By Shira Schoenberg, Political Correspondent on January 15, 2013 at 4:22 PM Print 1.20.2012. SPRINGFIELD- More than 50 protesters gathered in front of the U.S. District Courthouse on State Street in Springfield, Massachusetts on Jan. 20, 2012 to protest the 2nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision relaxing limits on election spending by corporations and labor groups. (Republican File Photo by Robert Rizzuto) A Massachusetts-based advocacy group is preparing to launch a new national campaign to convince states to amend their corporate charters to prohibit corporations from making political expenditures. Free Speech for People was formed by Massachusetts attorneys John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements in opposition to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations to make unlimited political expenditures. Bonifaz, who works in Amherst, said Massachusetts is likely to be one of the lead states the group will focus on. “We’re intending to take that idea and promote it in many states where we think local officials and state officials will want to find another avenue for challenging the Citizens United ruling and creating a way to safeguard their elections,” Bonifaz said. “It would be an important vehicle for making clear that states retain the authority to decide what conditions they can place on corporations either chartered in their state or doing business in their state.” Until now, the group has been working to get states to pass legislative resolutions and ballot initiatives calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Massachusetts is one of seven state legislatures that passed a resolution calling for an amendment. The group has not yet determined whether it will push a ballot initiative or legislative action in the new campaign. Currently, there seems to be little interest among Massachusetts lawmakers in pushing for such a law, which would likely affect only companies chartered in Massachusetts (Bonifaz said the group is also determining whether it can target outside businesses operating in the state). Critics of the Citizens United decision are more focused on forcing disclosure of political expenditures. However, if a law does pass in any state, legal scholars say the biggest impact would be in creating a test case for the courts to decide whether states can use corporate law to get around the Citizens United decision. The approach is the brainchild of Kent Greenfeld, a Boston College Law School professor. Greenfield said the idea is to limit corporate spending through corporate law rather than constitutional law. “The reason it makes some sense as a legal matter is that corporations are a creature of state law,” Greenfield said. “They don’t exist in nature. They don’t exist without some state action, and when they are created, (states) can choose which powers they get, what kind of rights they get.” Greenfield said prior case law “is all over the map” on the question of whether states can condition government benefits on willingness to give up rights. He pointed, for example, to the ability of charities to get special tax status on condition that they not lobby or contribute to campaigns. The full article is available here.