Friday, February 5, 2010

Rep. Donna Edwards Proposes Constitutional Ammendment

On the issue of corporate advertising, Donna Edwards says no.
Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards turned to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis for guidance in framing the Constitutional amendment she proposed Tuesday as the right and necessary response to the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and a high court majority to abandon law and precedent with the purpose of permitting corporations to dominate the political discourse.
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both," said Brandeis, the lion of law whose defenses of freedom of speech and the right to privacy renewed and extended the American experiment in the 20th century.
Brandeis knew that giving corporations monopoly power over our economic life or our politics would be deadly to democracy.
Unfortunately, that truth is lost on the current Supreme Court's activist majority.
Edwards is relying on Brandeis as an intellectual and legal touchstone as she launches the boldest congressional response yet to last month's Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United v. FEC.
"The ruling reached by the Roberts' Court overturned decades of legal precedent by allowing corporations unfettered spending in our political campaigns. Another law will not rectify this disastrous decision," Edwards said Tuesday. "A Constitutional Amendment is necessary to undo what this Court has done. Justice Brandeis got it right: ‘We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.' It is time we remove corporate influence from our policies and our politics. We cannot allow corporations to dominate our elections, to do so would be both undemocratic and unfair to ordinary citizens."
Edwards explains the amendment in a powerful video where says: "You don't amend the Constitution often, but the Supreme Court really has left us with no choice but to change the Constitution and make sure that people own our government and our elections -- not the corporations."
Edwards does not stand alone. In addition to an array of public interest groups including Public Citizen, Voter Action, The Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance, the congresswoman's proposed amendment is being backed by House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is the dean of civil libertarians in Congress.
Conyers has signed on as an original co-sponsor of the amendment to address the court's move to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
"The Supreme Court's idea that corporate political speech is no different than an individual citizen's political speech was not the law when the Constitution was written, was not the law before the Supreme Court's decision two weeks ago, and should not be the law in the future," says Conyers. "I look forward to working further with Ms. Edwards and my other colleagues to use every tool at our disposal to make sure that elected representatives are accountable to voters, not corporations."…
Inserted from <The Nation>
Here’s the video:
Click through to the article for the full text of the amendment.
For the long term, I agree with Edwards, but think she should go ever further to address that earlier wrongful decisions that a corporation is a person and that political expenditure equals speech.
For the short term, we need a law to serve as a poison pill to corporate spending.  Congress maintains the power to tax corporate activity.  I propose a 500% tax on all corporate spending for advertising, with the receipts split evenly between reducing the national debt and the funding the campaign committee of the opposing party.  Here’s a hypothetical example.  Let’s say Goldman Sachs spends $1 million in eleventh hour smear ads against Donna Edwards.  The Extreme Court decision makes it impossible to block the ads, Edwards is defeated.  Then Goldman Sachs has to pay a $5 million tax assessment.  Of that, $2.5 million goes to reduce the national debt, and $2.5 million goes to the DNC.  Thus, every time corporations try to buy an election, they provide 2.5 times what they spend on that to fund the campaigns of opponents and, at the same time, help pay down the national debt they created with the help of the GOP.  What do you think of both ideas, hers and mine?


Pauline said...

what do you know about this? "The Washington DC firm of Murray Hill Incorporated is first to take the step of running for Congress." True? Hoax?

Jack Jodell said...

Rep. Edwards is a brilliant woman. and I support her call for a constitutional amendment forbidding corporations from meddling in elections!

TomCat said...

It's quite true, Pauline. See "The First Coroprate Candidate" posted here on 1/30.

So do I Jack. What about my idea for the short term?

Jolly Roger said...

I think the SCOTUS hacks drove the last nail in our coffin, and I don't think there's time left to undo what they did.

My advice for those who live in Dixie and have IQs higher than 45: LEAVE. While you still have time. You know the northern republic will have to seal off the borders to stem the flood of illegals trying to flee the third-world theocratic hellhole.

Holte Ender said...

Donna Edwards is a very eloquent woman, and I agree whole-heartedly with her efforts, but how many years would it take? If it gets to the Supreme Court quickly, (not likely) they would pontificate on it forever. But that's not a good reason not push forward with this. Go like hell for it. In the meantime other methods are need to curtail corporate intrusion, perhaps shareholder permissions for publicly traded companies?

TOM said...

A bad law by Congress can be dealt with in many ways.
A bad decision by the Supreme Court can only be dealt with by another Supreme Court ruling, or an amendment to the Constitution.
I get real nervous when people start talking about amending the Constitution, but I get real nervous when the Supreme Court makes a ruling that overturns a century of previous law.
Limits should be able to lesson the harm and not be found to be unconstitutional, but this decision cannot be allowed to stand as law.

TomCat said...

JR, I hope it dores not come to that, but you could easily be right.

Holte, I agree, but she is proposing an amandment not a law.

Tom, I agree.

Tom Harper said...

I like both ideas, yours and Edwards'. Unfortunately they both have the deck stacked against them and are extremely unlikely to go anywhere.

otis said...

Here is something on the subject from an investing blog I follow.
He considers himself a Libertarian, and he is not real keen on political discussion in his blog, but it always manages to eek in there. He tries to keep at an eek, though.
I found this post, which came out earlier today, to be appropriate for sharing.

You may have to copy and paste.

As for corporate spending in politics, I think that we are going the wrong way with this discussion. I think that we should give corporations all the same rights as individuals. Including, but not limited to, tax responsibilities, same as an individual (sorry, no more 'corporate loopholes' corporations don't exist.), land rights same as individual (I'm sorry, an individual cannot force the issue of eminent domain very easily), and political contributions, same as a person $2500, I believe?

Middle Ditch said...

Passing by to say hi Tom

TomCat said...

Thanks, Tom. I agree. The biggest point I wanted to make is to counter the argument that there is nothing to be done.

Otis, I like the cartoon. Limiting corporations with the same limit as people works for me as well. SCOTUS has given them all the rights of person-hood and none of the responsibilities or obligations.

Hi Monique. :-)