On Jan. 20, 2010, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that will likely go down in history as one of the worst ever made, a decision that literally threatens our democracy.
That decision, Citizens United vs. The Federal Elections Commission, conferred “personhood” on corporations and granted them rights far more reaching than yours or mine as citizens of this country.
It is tempting to just shake one’s head and declare it “business as usual” in Washington, but think about this. Imagine that our state Legislature, concerned about the effect of the “money PACs” (political action committees) in our elections, passed a law to prevent large donations of corporate money to candidates’ campaigns. Then, imagine that a large multinational corporation went to court to challenge the law on the basis of the concept that corporations are people and have free speech “rights.” And the courts ruled for the corporation! That ruling would have overturned a law made by our state Legislature representing us and defying the will of the legitimate representative of the people. That actually happened in Massachusetts.
Using a similar concept, Monsanto, a huge worldwide corporation, won a court decision on its “right not to speak” about the fact that many of its products are made with genetically engineered plants and dangerous chemicals. Therefore, Monsanto did not have to reveal that information on its labels, as the government was requiring them to do, lest consumers who have concerns about genetically engineered food would not buy their products. Monsanto won. Their “right to speak,” or not, is not for the country, the general good, you or me, but simply their bottom line. Corporations are not people.
But we are not powerless!
The Constitution provides a method for the people to correct errors made by the courts when necessary. That method, a Constitutional Amendment, was used seven times in the 20th century to enshrine in the Constitution some of our most cherished rights.
It is time to do it again.
While it seems like a no-brainer that only human beings are people, a 28th Amendment to the Constitution is being proposed to clarify that once and for all. Towns, counties and states across the country as well as organizations, churches, and businesses of all kinds are passing resolutions calling for a Constitutional Amendment. It would declare that only human beings are the “people” referred to in the Constitution.
For more information and to read the proposed amendment, go to the Web site www.freespeechforpeople.org., a non-partisan, grass roots organization, one of several Internet sites providing resources on this issue.
And, if you agree, join others in petitioning Congress to act to preserve our government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Marilyn R. Decker