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Eldridge Joins U.S. Rep. McGovern for 'People's Rights' Tour

Movement is to announce constitutional amendments overturning Citizens United.

A joint effort by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case and call for an end to corporate political spending took place on Thursday in Boston and Worcester.

Labeled a “People’s Rights” tour, the two politicians showed support for two new constitutional amendments filed by McGovern.

"When corporate dollars influence politics, the American people don't have a place at the table to express their principles and voice,” said Eldridge in a statement. “The new legislation proposed by Congressman McGovern would make it clear that First Amendment rights are for people, not corporations, making sure that corporate special interest money stops drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Attorney General Martha Coakley, State Rep. Cory Atkins, Rep. Marty Walz, Rep. Jim O’Day, Harvard Law Professor John Coates, American Sustainable Business Council CEO David Levine, and Free Speech for People co-founders John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements joined Eldridge in support of campaign finance reform.

In 2011, Eldridge and Atkins introduced S.772, “The People’s Rights Resolution,” a successful state resolution supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Eldridge reaffirmed his strong support for McGovern’s two new amendments to restore fair elections and constitutional rights in stops at Suffolk University and Clark University.

“Our election system is broken, awash in special interest money,” said McGovern in a statement. “As any high school civics student knows, the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution are ‘We the People.’ Corporations are not people. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling marks the most extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine which has eroded our First Amendment and our Constitution, and we must work through every grassroots and legislative avenue to overturn it.”

BACKGROUND:

S. 772, “The People’s Rights Resolution,” introduced by Eldridge and Atkins (D-Concord), decries the court’s ruling as a “serious and direct threat to our democracy.” The resolution has the Massachusetts Legislature call upon the U.S. Congress to “pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people.” The bill has more than a dozen co-sponsors.

McGovern’s first amendment, HJ Res 20, advances the fundamental principle of political equality for all by empowering Congress and the States to regulate political spending. It will allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that will withstand Constitutional challenges.

The second amendment, HJ Res 21, would overturn Citizens United and put a stop to the growing trend of corporations claiming first amendment rights. This “People’s Rights Amendment” not only addresses corporate rights as they pertain to campaign finance, but is broader in scope to clarify that corporations are not people with Constitutional rights. Importantly, the amendment clearly protects the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association, and all other such rights of the people.

(Megan Montgomery contributed to this report.)

Debra Simes January 30, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Bravo, MA State Senator Eldridge, U.S. Rep. McGovern, and State Rep. Atkins!
Michael Fleming January 30, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Funny how corporations don't have the right to contribute money for political campaigns but unions do. How does that work out logically? Anybody?
Charlie Kadlec January 30, 2013 at 05:52 PM
All efforts to "regulate political spending" are fundamentally attempts by those in power to limit the free speech rights of political opponents regardless of how such attempts are promoted. A better name for McGovern's proposed legislation would be "A Resolution To Make It Harder For Anybody To Run Against Professional Politicians ". Does Jamie Eldridge and the others really think that "corporations are not people" ? Corporations are current and retired employees, investors, stockholders, customers, vendors, and more -- are they included in Eldridges's and McGovern's "People's Rights" ? Corporations are simply a way to organize people to produce goods and services. Occasionally Jamie et al. issue press releases declaring their commitment to "improving the economy". What do they think "the economy" is ? Charlie Kadlec Acton
Michael Fleming January 30, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Charlie- Somehow, Jamie and others who are against the Supreme Courts finding in the "United" case that found that corporations are an entity that cannot be excluded from the political conversation any more than unions, pro life groups, pro abortion groups, the Boy Scouts, or the cobblers guild, seem to forget that like all organizations, they are comprised of people, who have a stake in the outcome of elections, and as such, have a right to make their voice heard. The left wants the conversation limited because corporations brings lots of money to the table, and a political view that is counter to their own, thus they need to be silenced. If corporations were to agree with the left, like the media, unions and abortion proponents, well, then they would be "ok". The amount of money involved in national elections is high, but no higher than what this nation spends on Halloween candy every year....but they will use that fact as an excuse to limit others speech. You will hear variations of this sentence often: "The cost of elections is approching the obscene. We must limit this outrageous spending" ( a new found concern for spending, I might add)...But when Obama spends a billion dollars on his re-election, that is just "the people" having their say. Frankly, their money was better spent Snickers bars.

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