SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 19, 2013

Letter: Now is time to act to prevent corporate influence in elections


The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

January 21 marks the third anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. The ruling is one of many cases in which corporations have convinced the courts that the Bill of Rights applies to them just as it does to human beings.

In regard to the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, a willfully naïve 5-4 majority of the justices decided that no corruption would result from enabling global corporations, the super rich, and any others who could hide behind the secrecy of super PACs to dump limitless money into our elections at all levels.

The ruling had an immediate impact on the 2010 election, but that was nothing compared to what occurred in the election this fall. It will only get worse if left unchecked. That is why voters in Massachusetts and across the country have said they want action, and why we must take steps now to turn around the runaway campaign spending train before 2014.

“In a July Gallup Poll, Americans ranked reducing the corruption of government as the second-highest priority for the next president — right behind job creation. Clearly, those Americans are concerned about corruption and the appearance of corruption in our electoral system,” according to Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney general.

Politicians are already appealing for contributions. Without a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United, politicians know they cannot let a day go by when they are not raising money, an activity that will eat up time that they should be using to understand and represent the best interests of the people.

A proposed Constitutional Amendment will address campaign finance and also go further, restoring to “we the people” all of the freedoms the founders placed in the Bill of Rights just for human beings. North Shore Move to Amend, an affiliate of the national Move to Amend organization, wants “to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” In November, 75 percent of voters on the North Shore voted “yes” on a referendum question in favor of such an amendment.

To accomplish the goal of Move to Amend, we must continue to urge our U.S. representatives and senators to support a constitutional amendment, and also to work hard to make sure that all of the Massachusetts delegation in Congress does likewise. We also need to let family and friends around the country know about this. To reclaim our democracy of the people, by the people and for the people, we need to be active citizens in that democracy. It is the only way.

Nancy Coffey, Beverly

Inez Folsom, Beverly

Peter Johnson, Beverly

Marie Hall, Salem