By Linda G. Traynor
On Jan. 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are “persons” and their money constitutes “free speech.” With this decision, the U.S. Supreme Court failed the American people by enabling corporations and corporate money to buy our elections and run our government.
We the people know the obvious: That only human beings are people. Corporations are nothing more than legal fictions. We also know money is in no way free speech. Since the November 2010 elections, we have been able to witness the corrupting effect that corporate money has had on our elections and see the clearly destructive result of this U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In 2010, an overwhelming majority of Americans across party lines disapproved of this decision. Now in 2013, even greater numbers reject this misguided U.S. Supreme Court ruling. We have witnessed how obscene amounts of money poured into our elections have made our country far worse for average Americans and diminished our importance in the eyes of elected officials.
At the time of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to review and decide on another equally destructive case that could further exacerbate the negative effects of big money in our elections. In McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold a law that says that no one person can contribute more than $123,000 directly to federal candidates, parties and committees. It’s important to make it glaringly evident that this amount is more than twice the average American’s income and therefore places millionaires and billionaires in a position to have their “speech,” again in the form of their money, amplified well above the voices of average Americans.
To have a democracy and a democratic form of government that is responsive and accountable to the people, it is essential that our elected officials at every level of government represent us and not those corporations or individuals that can afford to make large donations to their political campaigns.
If we want to end the dysfunction in our government and our economy, we the people, state by state, need to take the necessary steps to amend our Constitution to firmly and unequivocally establish that human beings, not corporations, are the only persons entitled to constitutional rights and that money never constitutes free speech. It is incumbent upon us to embrace our democracy, to pledge to actively engage in it, to deliberately and thoughtfully assume our civic duty and work together through legitimate grassroots efforts to achieve this result.
For these reasons, the Social Justice Action Team at Wesley United Methodist Church in Fresno has invited David Cobb of California-based Move to Amend (MTA) for a presentation on why we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to strip corporations of “personhood” and ensure that corporate money is never considered “free speech.” Cobb will describe the specific steps an MTA chapter in Fresno could take to achieve this goal within the structure of our democracy.
The public is invited to attend Cobb’s presentation, on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. in the main sanctuary of Wesley United Methodist Church (1343 E. Barstow Ave.).
The following day, Nov. 23, at 9:30 a.m., the public is invited to a meeting that will also be held at Wesley United Methodist Church to learn what a local MTA chapter could do in our area to further these goals. Cobb will answer questions and explain the structure, tools and resources the MTA can provide for a new Fresno chapter to work with other chapters to set the stage for a statewide 2016 California ballot initiative and ultimately an amendment to the constitution.
As of July of this year, 16 states had officially called on Congress to put forth a resolution overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. California needs to be the 17thstate to make the same demand.
For more information about the MTA, call 707-269-0984 or visit www.movetoamend.org. This California-based nonprofit organization has been diligently working nationwide to educate and engage concerned citizens on this effort. Read the list of cities, counties and states that are already engaged in this effort and have already succeeded in passing such resolutions.
Consider volunteering and becoming a member of the Fresno MTA chapter, which will be created on Nov. 23. These events are free to the general public. There is plenty of free parking, and the church campus is handicapped accessible. Wesley’s Social Justice Action Team looks forward to seeing you there.
Linda G. Traynor, MBA, has worked in marketing, advertising and sales in Fresno, Mexico and Germany. She’s lived in Fresno for 30 years. In the past four years, she has focused on voter registration, voter education and voter participation aiming to transform our government and encourage our elected officials at every level to become more responsive and accountable to we the people, which is the basic premise of our Constitution. She is a founding member of Wesley Methodist’s Social Justice Action Team. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.