I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one ~ unknown author #OWSNYC
Back in 1912, the voters of Montana passed a law that barred corporations from direct contributions to political candidates when mining czar W.A. Clark bought himself a seat in the U.S. Senate. That law was overturned in 2010 when the US Supreme Court declared that granted corporations the same 1st Amendment rights as citizens and allowed businesses to freely spend their way into the nation’s political debates. Being single minded Westerners, the Montana Supreme Court has challenged Citizens United by upholding the state’s century old law that limits corporate contributions:
In a 5-2 opinion, the Montana court’s majority concluded that the state’s long history of well-funded natural resource extractors, small population and historically inexpensive political campaigns allow it to demonstrate compelling government interest in regulating corporate financial muscle. Even one of the justices who dissented – saying that the U.S. Supreme Court left no room for states to exempt themselves – argued forcefully against the broad corporate latitude encompassed in the Citizens United decision.
“Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people – human beings – to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government,” Justice James C. Nelson wrote in his reluctant dissent.
“Worse still, while corporations and human beings share many of the same rights under the law, they clearly are not bound equally to the same codes of good conduct, decency and morality, and they are not held equally accountable for their sins. Indeed, it is truly ironic that the death penalty and hell are reserved only to natural persons,” he wrote.
Clearly, Citizens United is uniting people who oppose the solidification of the corporate take over of the government. In December, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a constitutional amendment, S.J.Res.33 (pdf), that would strip corporations of the same constitutional rights as persons, subject them to regulation, bar them from making campaign contributions and grant Congress the power to regulate campaign finance. There are now four different constitutional amendments to the U.S. House and Senate seeking to overturn the Citizens United ruling.
In Los Angeles, CA, the city council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution in support of such an amendment.
Then, in one of their first acts of the New Year, the New York City Council passed a resolution calling on congress pass an amendment overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Oakland, CA; Albany, NY; Missoula, MO; Boulder, CO and South Miami, FL have all passed similar resolutions.
The Montana decision, which applies only to state elections, is important because it sets the path for the return of the issue to the US Supreme Court, while we wait to see if a constitutional amendment can be passed.