A Salem group seeking to change the effects of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that granted corporations the right to spend unlimited funds to influence elections, has taken a major step forward.
On June 19, a delegation from Marion-Polk Move To Amend (MPMTA) one of hundreds of affiliated groups in the United States calling for a change in the U.S. Constitution, delivered 1,484 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.
It was a first step towards getting a measure on Oregon’s 2016 General election ballot.
“Today we are taking a big step towards telling Congress that we object to corporations being given Constitutional rights meant only for people,” said MPMTA leader and Oregon District 17 candidate for Representative, Rich Harisay.
The group, whose petition is at marionpolkmovetoamend.org, says it takes offense to the January 21, 2010 decision in Citizen’s United v Federal Election Commission, because it is one in a long line of decisions which have resulted in corporations usurping the sovereignty of “the People.” MPMTA argues that this inflicts irrecoverable disadvantages on real, flesh and blood people who do not have the unlimited resources of corporations.
They insist that corporations are not people entitled to free speech or any other protections of the Bill of Rights.
“It’s exciting because it’s so important,” said Salem’s Beverly Nodzak, a MPMTA member. “It’s important for the rights designated in the Constitution to be for people and real human beings – not corporations.”
“Our amendment,” Harisay adds, “clarifies that corporations… have no Constitutional rights. Whatever rights they have are granted to them through their corporate charters which are under the control of each state.”
The group has a number of hurdles to jump before the petition becomes a ballot measure, including the Secretary of State’s office verifying that at least 1,000 of the signatures are valid, the determination if the effort is appropriate for the ballot measure process and the creation of legal language for the next petition – which will require about 100,000 signatures. The aim is to call for a Constitutional Convention in enough states that legislators will take notice.
“A Constitutional convention is the only way to make the change, and it will take 34 states demanding it to make it happen,” Harisay said. “But Oregon can lead the way.”