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Citizens United

Nine More Communities Vote To Amend The U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI  – On Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech. All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in three counties: Jackson (69%), Sauk (72%) and Wood (80%); the villages of Readstown (91%), Westfield (87%) and Weston (83%); and the towns of Kickapoo (85%), Rib Mountain (78%) and Vermont (86%). That brings the total to 142 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment.

Communities Use Direct Democracy To Save Democracy

Madison, WI  – On Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only humans should have constitutional rights and that money is not the same as speech and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process. Voters will cast ballots in Jackson, Sauk and Wood counties, the villages of Readstown, Westfield and Weston, and the towns of Kickapoo, Rib Mountain and Vermont. If all vote in favor, 142 Wisconsin communities will have called for the We The People amendment.

Since ‘Citizens United,’ Just 15 Groups Account For 75 Percent Of The $800+ Million In Dark Money Spent On US Elections

"Dark money groups hold enormous sway over what issues are, and are not, debated in Congress and on the campaign trail," the report explains. "But the donors behind these groups rarely discuss their motivations for bankrolling these efforts, leaving the public in the dark about who funds these increasingly prominent and potent organizations." In addition the new Dark Money Illuminated (pdf) report, which identifies about 400 donors and organizations bankrolling these 15 secretive groups, the researchers also developed profiles for each dark money group and an "extensive, first-of-its-kind database containing nearly 1,200 transactions, each supported by primary source documents."

Newsletter: The Corruption Of Money

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. As tax day approaches, there will be numerous reports about how US oligarchs – wealthy individuals and major corporations – do not pay their fair share in taxes. A GAO report released this week found “at least two-thirds of active U.S. corporations paid zero federal income taxes between 2006 and 2012. The report also found that large, profitable corporations only paid 14% of their profits in federal income taxes on average from 2008 through 2012, while approximately one-fifth of them paid nothing at all.” This is not only due to tax laws that provide corporations with a wide array of loopholes to lower their taxes, but is also due to the intentional hiding of money off-shore. A 2015 report found that nearly 75% of Fortune 500 companies tucked away $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid paying US income taxes.

National Consensus For Transformational Change: Action Needed

By Robert Weissman for Huffington Post. Americans overwhelmingly agree on a wide range of issues. They want policies to make the economy more fair and hold corporate executives accountable. They want stronger environmental and consumer protections. And they want to fix our political system so that it serves the interest of all, not just Big Money donors. These aren’t close issues for Americans; actually, what’s surprising is the degree of national consensus. The problem isn’t that Americans don’t agree. The problem is that the corporate class doesn’t agree with this agenda, and that class dominates our politics. Because this reality runs so counter to the dominant media story, it’s worth diving into the numbers to get a sense of the vast divide between conventional wisdom and empirical data.

A Legal Precedent For A More Equitable Society

By Edward Campbell for Op-Ed News. Article One sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution forbids the grant of any "Titles of Nobility". In promoting the adoption of the Constitution of the United States of America, Alexander Hamilton named these Article One clauses the "Cornerstone of Republican Government". He went on to observe that as long as "titles of nobility" were excluded, there could never be a serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people. "Titles of Nobility" were terms familiar in the language of the times indicating social and economic superiority and political power. The Nobility restrictions referred to equality. In the words of the early Constitutional Scholar, Joseph Story, born towards the end of the Revolution (1779) and a member of the Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845, that as perfect equality is the basis of all our institutions, state and national, the prohibition against the creation of any title of nobility seems proper, if not indispensable, to keep perpetually alive a just sense of this important truth.

California Can Hold Ballot Measure On Citizens United, Court Rules

By Nick Cahill for The Huffington Post - SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - California lawmakers can ask for voters' opinions on campaign-spending laws after the California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the Legislature's power to use advisory ballot measures. In a 6-1 decision, the Golden State's high court ruled lawmakers have the power to place a nonbinding measure on statewide ballots asking voters if Congress should be spurred to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling on unlimited independent campaign donations. Writing for the state high court, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar said lawmakers have a state constitutional right to ask voters about potential federal constitutional amendments.

Super PAC Contributions Can Be Considered Bribes: Judge

By Paul Blumenthal for The Huffington Post - WASHINGTON -- A district court judge on Monday dismissed four corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and his donor Salomon Melgen, but denied motions to toss out other charges including, notably, the senator’s solicitation of contributions for a super PAC. Lawyers for the senator had asked the court to dismiss charges related to the $700,000 in contributions from Melgen to Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that made independent expenditures to support Menendez’s 2012 reelection, which prosecutors allege were made in exchange for official acts. The basis for dismissal offered by Menendez’s lawyers were the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United and 2013 McCutcheon decisions. Those two cases redefined corruption as only explicit bribery, excluding influence and access.

Kings In Black Robes

The Supreme Court is systematically stripping Constitutional Rights from real, live human beings and giving those rights to Corporations and a very small group of plutocrats. There are a lot of living, breathing human beings who belong to a lot of issue advocacy groups and whose "oxen were gored" in the decisions discussed above. It's time for those groups, and so many more, to begin working together to take back the political power that the Supreme Court has stolen from the American people. The only decisive way to do that is, for starters, to amend the U.S. Constitution so that it clearly and unequivocally states that 1) inalienable rights protected under the Constitution belong to human beings, and 2) money is not speech.

Newsletter: Our Task-The Future As A Frontier

Sam Smith gave this talk, “On Becoming and Being an Activist,” at a teen conference. The essence of his message is that we are facing serious crises and we have to make a choice of whether we will act or not. We are on a dangerous path and it takes courage to see that and not be paralyzed into inaction. It is easier to ignore the truth and succumb to the many distractions in our lives. Smith writes: “It is this willingness to walk away from the seductive power of the present that first divides the mere reformer from the rebel — the courage to emigrate from one’s own ways in order to meet the future not as just a right but as a frontier.” Smith goes on to describe that traditional tools for social change, working within the system, are not effective in this time. We must raise our voices, do the unexpected and try the improbable. We need to use our passion, our energy, our magic and music to burst the illusion being hand fed to us in the media and taught in our schools.

Protests Interrupt Supreme Court Over Citizens United

On the anniversary of the Citizens United decision the US Supreme Court was interrupted by a series of protests decrying the corruption of government made worse by the decision. Reuters reports: Activists staged a rare protest inside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, shouting denunciations on the fifth anniversary of a ruling that lifted limits on corporate spending in elections as police rushed to corral them, knocking over chairs and causing a ruckus in the normally staid chambers. While the protests were ongoing they report "Chief Justice John Roberts tried to begin business but kept being interrupted by shouts." The New York Times described the protests reporting: The disruption came shortly after the justices took their seats on the bench at 10 a.m., when a woman rose in the back of the courtroom and yelled, “Overturn Citizens United.” Chief Justice Roberts showed a public cool and tried to use humor, SCOTUS blog reports: "The Chief Justice was heard to mutter, 'Oh, please.'"

Hundreds March Through Snow To End Political Corruption

Concord, NH - From January 11 to 21, hundreds of reform-minded citizens will brave the elements and walk across New Hampshire in a frigid “New Hampshire Rebellion" against big money in politics. Walkers from across New Hampshire and neighboring states will participate in four simultaneous NH Rebellion marches covering more than 300 miles from Portsmouth, Nashua, Keene, and Dixville Notch to Concord, NH. On January 21st, the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the marches will converge on the State House in Concord for a major rally declaring to the 2016 presidential candidates that New Hampshire voters are “Not for Sale.” “We are deeply concerned that elections are being bought and paid for by a handful of private interests looking out for themselves--not the American people,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy in Concord.

From Selma To Citizens United: Struggle For One Person, One Vote

The 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches -- and the brutal backlash to them from Alabama state troopers -- galvanized national support for the Voting Rights Act, changing the balance of power in the South. Building on years of local organizing, "roughly a million new voters were registered within a few years after the [Voting Rights Act] became law," says historian Alexander Keyssar in his seminal book "The Right to Vote," "with African-American registration soaring to a record 62 percent." While Selma and the Voting Rights Act strengthened the voice of ordinary voters, Citizens United has heightened the power of mega-rich donors. By opening the treasuries of companies, unions and other groups to limitless political spending, the decision has fueled a spending spree on elections, especially by outside groups not tied to a candidate. According to a new report by the Brennan Center, outside spending in U.S. Senate races has doubled since 2010, to more than $486 million in 2014.

Maximum Progress On The Minimum Wage

Beyond the hyperbole, beneath the pronouncements of pundits, strong currents are moving, slowly shifting our society. One movement that shined through the electoral morass demanded an increased minimum wage. It prevailed, even in some of the reddest of states. Going against partisan trends, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota approved ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, as they did in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. In Illinois and several Wisconsin counties, both states that elected Republican governors, significant majorities passed nonbinding ballot proposals to increase the minimum wage. Since the Republicans (and some Democrats) in Congress have consistently blocked an increase in the national minimum wage, people are taking control of the issue in their communities, and finding resounding support across the political spectrum.

6 Ways Americans Voted Against Corporate Power In Midterm Elections

Deep breaths, everyone. The midterm election didn't exactly go how many people hoped. The Democrats' loss of the Senate could mean a Congress that's a lot friendlier to things like the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and theadoption of sweeping new trade deals. But don't despair just yet. In a few statewide ballot measures and local elections, Americans voted against corporate interests, embracing progressive policies (and even a couple progressive politicians). They endorsed protecting the environment from oil and gas companies, getting corporate money (like the record $3.76 billion spent during this midterm election) out of politics, and favoring local businesses over chain stores. Here are six local victories that got us excited.
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