To mark the second anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, there will be an Occupy the Courts rally for Western North Carolina outside the Federal Courthouse, 50 Main Street, Bryson City, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20. The rally is part of a national event to heighten public awareness regarding the Citizens United decision related to “corporate personhood.” It will be conducted by the Western North Carolina affiliate of Move to Amend, a grassroots coalition in the forefront of a coordinated campaign to help local groups advance ballot initiatives and resolutions rejecting the 2010 Supreme Court decision.
With its Jan. 21, 2010, ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court gave corporations rights originally intended solely for human beings. The ruling basically stated that setting limits on the amounts corporations could contribute to influence elections would violate the First Amendment right to free speech. It resulted in the opening of floodgates to unlimited corporate spending on elections, allowing corporations to manipulate public opinion, influence legislation and shape public officials. Since the ruling, corporations have spent over $300 million running ads and other activities to sway voters to elect candidates who serve the special interest of the corporations.
Because the interests of individuals seldom correspond with those of corporations, this is a concern for many people. And because the decision is based in the constitutional protections of the First Amendment, Congress cannot simply overturn the decision.
However, because the First Amendment was intended to protect the rights of real human beings, a growing number of those human beings are calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the damage of this ruling.
At least 85 percent of Americans believe that corporations currently have too much power in this country, and individual citizens too little. This concern is the basis for the Occupy the Courts rallies being held at Federal courthouses across the country to help educate people to the need for support for a constitutional amendment to eliminate “corporate personhood” and reverse this Supreme Court ruling. There will also be an opportunity to sign a petition calling for the constitutional amendment.
Mary McGlauflin — submitted by email