Home > constitution, corporation, free speech, rent-seeking > Independent business advocates condemn Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate money in US elections, join public interest groups in launching campaign to amend Constitution

Independent business advocates condemn Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate money in US elections, join public interest groups in launching campaign to amend Constitution

No, I didn’t write this press release (but I did add emphasis!). I note my related posts are here.

DATE: January 21, 2009


CONTACT: Jeff Milchen, American Independent Business Alliance



BOZEMAN, MT – A coalition of public interest organizations and
independent business advocates condemned today’s ruling by the US
Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money in US elections, and
announced that it is launching a campaign to amend the United States
Constitution to overturn the ruling.

The coalition
includes the public interests groups Voter Action, Public Citizen, and
the Center for Corporate Policy, as well as the American Independent
Business Alliance (AMIBA). They contend the Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC
poses a serious and direct threat to democracy and to fair market
competition. Immediately following the Court’s ruling, the groups
unveiled a new website – FreeSpeechforPeople.org – devoted to this campaign.

The Supreme Court has leaped into unabashed activism on behalf of
corporate power,
” said Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American
Independent Business Alliance. “Some reports have wrongly suggested the
Roberts Court is ‘pro-business,'” said Milchen, “but overturning these
precedents is radically anti-business when viewed from the perspective
of America’s six million or so independent businesses.

“Independent business owners often face a decidedly uneven playing
field when competing against major corporations due, in part, to tax loopholes, subsidies, federal handouts
and preferential treatment bestowed by politicians,” added Milchen.
“Opening electoral contests to direct corporate campaign spending
further undermines fair market competition and recklessly endangers

AMIBA is a
non-profit network of 70 communities across the U.S. that have formed
local Independent Business Alliances to help local independent
businesses compete successfully and prevent major chains from driving
out local businesses.

“Free speech rights are for people,
not corporations,” says John Bonifaz, Voter Action’s legal director.
“In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the
Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our
political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in US
history. This campaign to amend the Constitution will seek to restore
the First Amendment to its original purpose.”

The public
interest groups say that, since the late 1970s, a divided Supreme Court
has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for
corporations seeking to evade democratic control and sidestep sound
public welfare measures. For the first two centuries of the American
republic, the groups argue, corporations did not have First Amendment
to limit the reach of democratically-enacted regulations.

“Today’s ruling, reversing longstanding precedent which prohibits
corporate expenditures in elections, now requires a constitutional
amendment response to protect our democracy,” says Jeffrey Clements,
general counsel to Free Speech for People.

Jennifer Rockne, AMIBA’s director, added “Even before the banking meltdown, ninety percent
of Americans thought large corporations have been granted too much
power. It’s a remarkable moment for the Court to re-invent the
Constitution to expand corporations’ influence and a slap in the face
to America’s independent business owners.”

In support of
their new campaign, the groups point to prior amendments to the US
Constitution which were enacted to correct egregiously wrong decisions
of the US Supreme Court directly impacting the democratic process,

including the 15th Amendment prohibiting discrimination in voting based
on race and the 19th Amendment, prohibiting discrimination in voting
based on gender.

“The Court has invented the idea that
corporations have First Amendment rights to influence election outcomes
out of whole cloth,” says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.
“There is surely no originalist interpretation to support this outcome,
since the Court created the rights only in recent decades. Nor can the
outcome be justified in light of the underlying purpose and spirit of
the First Amendment. Corporations are state-created entities, not real
people. Corporate spending on elections defeats rather than advances
the democratic thrust of the First Amendment.”

believes the effort will succeed, but makes no predications on a
timeline. “This will be a sustained campaign that will ultimately unite
the vast majority of Americans who recognize the Bill of Rights is for
human beings, not corporations,” said Milchen. “We have no illusions
about the size of the task we are undertaking, but five Justices have
effectively outlawed the republican form of government promised by our
Constitution. We will be as patient as necessary to succeed.”

For more information on the constitutional amendment campaign, see freespeechforpeople.org .


Related articles and websites:

Brenda Wright, Director of Demos and co-author of the amicus brief we submitted for this case, on the decision http://www.acslaw.org/node/15160

Not all business sided with the Court ruling:

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.