Two brothers, Laird and Robin Monahan, are walking across the United States from San Francisco to focus attention on the Citizens United v. FEC decision, the issue of corporate personhood, and the need to amend the Constitution to say that corporations are not entitled to personhood rights, and money is not equivalent to free speech. They will be in the Parkersburg area on September 26, 2010 and in Charleston on September 27, 2010.
While their personal goals are not endorsed by the League of Women Voters, the LWVUS recently issued an action alert about the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, that failed to pass through the Senate earlier this year, but that is expected to be brought up for a vote again this week.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its decision in Citizens United v. FEC on the morning of January 21, 2010, allowing corporations to be considered persons with respect to free speech rights in elections. This was a big victory for entities like Citizens United, which had produced a film called Hillary, The Movie and wanted to show it within 60 days of the primaries, thereby, violating the 2002 McCain–Feingold Act. On the other hand, LWVUS had presented an Amicus Brief in the case that supported retaining existing federal election campaign finance laws governing campaign contributions by corporations. On February 3, 2010, Mary Wilson, president of the LWVUS, released a strong statement before the Committee on House Administration about “Defining the Future of Campaign Finance in an Age of Supreme Court Activism” in response to the SCOTUS decision. Her conclusion powerfully defines the Leagues sentiments:
Conclusion. The League of Women Voters believes that the Court’s majority decision in Citizens United v. FEC was fundamentally wrong and a tragic mistake. The majority mistakenly equated corporate free speech rights with those of natural persons. And the majority confused associations of individuals with corporations. But this is the decision of the Court. Even though we believe it will be overturned eventually, both in the judgment of history and in the law, Congress needs to respond now, recognizing its own authority and responsibility to uphold the Constitution.
Until the question of personhood for corporations is resolved, the least that voters should expect is the right to know the identity of those paying for the candidates’ campaigns.