The Nation

Katrina vanden Heuvel

January 17, 2012

On December 30, the Montana Supreme Court delivered a New Year’s gift to the nation, upholding a century-old ban on corporate political expenditures in state elections. The decision has gone underreported amidst the hoopla of the Republican primaries—even as super PAC spending skyrockets and there is an emerging understanding of its corrosive impact—but the Montana case sets up the first direct challenge to the disastrous Citizens United decision as we approach its second anniversary.

Free Speech For People—a national non-partisan campaign challenging the fabrication of corporate rights under the US Constitution—filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Montana case. It led a coalition that included the American Sustainable Business Council, a network of more than 70,000 businesses across the country; the American Independent Business Alliance; and a local supermarket business and non-profit corporation.

Jeff Clements is the author of the coalition’s brief. Co-founder and general counsel of Free Speech, Clements did two stints as Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts, litigating in the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, healthcare, insurance and financial services, antitrust and consumer protection, and taking on the tobacco industry. He’s also the author of a new book, Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It. This is a book that anyone who cares about taking back our democracy of, by and for the people must check out.

Clements tells a vivid story of how some of the largest corporations organized to take over our government and Constitution, culminating with the Citizens United decision. He also lays out a vision of how we can return democracy to the people.

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