Two Winchester residents will be asking Town Meeting in April to support a resolution which would overturn a Supreme Court ruling made in January 2010.
Susan Verdicchio and Vern Blodgett submitted Article 8 for this spring’s annual Town Meeting, which asks members to approve a resolution that calls “Congress to pass and send to the states a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens’ United v. Federal Elections Commission and restore democracy to the people.”
According to Verdicchio, the ruling prohibited the government from restricting political payments from corporations.
The article says that the “Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate democratically-enacted reforms.” And that the ruling “overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending their general treasury funds in our elections.”
One side effect from the ruling, according to Verdicchio, is the creation of Super Political Action Committees, which are free to spend as much money as they want to support their candidate.
“We’re seeing these Political Action Committees effect the presidential race,” Verdicchio said. “It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how this could effect state or local elections.”
Verdicchio and Blodgett point to the current spending in the Republican Primaries as an example of how corporations could potentially hijack elections.
They say that this Supreme Court case “will now unleash a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history.” And that the ruling “presents a serious and direct threat to our democracy.”
“We’re not anti-capitalism,” Blodgett said. “This is about having an even playing field, the way it’s supposed to be. The rights of humans are in place and the rights of corporations should be for corporations, they shouldn’t be the equivalent of people.”
According to Verdicchio, the ruling should be overturned because corporations should not be allowed to have protections under the First Amendment.
“Corporations are an artificial entity,” she said. “They’re immortal; they can’t vote; they can’t be drafted. There’s a lot of precedent to the idea that corporations aren’t people.”
“Corporations can now make massive campaign contributions,” Blodgett said. “They have lobbyist down in Congress. Corporations are in control when it’s supposed to be the people that are in control.”
At Town Meeting, Verdicchio will ask members to pass the resolution, showing Winchester’s support for overturning the Supreme Court ruling.
The resolution “calls upon the United States Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people.”