Corporations are Not People

By Beacon Staff

If you disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, claiming that corporations are people, be aware of some facts concerning the case. The decision reversed over 100 years of constitutional law based on principles established by this nation’s founders. After all, we fought the Revolutionary War in part to achieve independence from English crown corporations that dominated colonial commerce and governed some of the original 13 colonies. It wasn’t until the Civil War that private corporations gained importance and began exerting increasing influence over government at all levels. After two Montana senators bought their way into office with the support of the Anaconda Copper Company, Congress passed the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913, changing the rules so that U.S. senators were elected by popular vote rather than by state legislatures.

As a result of the Citizens United decision, unlimited and unaccountable corporate money is flooding the campaigns. The court’s decision overruled two precedents of the Supreme Court that upheld restrictions on corporate and union spending to support or oppose political candidates. Annoyance with obtrusive negative ads will be the least of our problems if our elected officials are once again totally owned by corporations and wealthy individuals. Republicans like to complain about “judicial activism” when a court decision doesn’t go their way, but they remain silent when the court overrules precedent and commits this most grievous case of judicial activism.

Consider that all five Supreme Court Justices who voted for the Citizens United decision were appointed by Republican presidents and the four voting against it were appointed by Democratic presidents. If you don’t want our government in complete control of international corporate interests, support Jon Tester and other Democrats in efforts to pass a constitutional amendment repealing the Citizens United decision. Electing a Republican president will perpetuate corporate dominance of our economy, society, and politics. If a Republican president appoints another Supreme Court justice, it will ensure more decisions that transfer power from “we the people” to the corporations. Think about this when you vote in November.

Jerry Elwood

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