Move to Amend
On January 21, 2010, with it's 5 to 4 decision in "Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission", the United States Supreme Court reversed long-standing precedent to rule that corporations are persons under the Constitution, basically entitling them to buy elections with unlimited money contributions. But as Justice Stevens stated in his dissenting opinion:
"The Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt."
Sierra Club Position
The Sierra Club passed a resolution on April 21, 2011 calling for the overturning of the holding in Citizens United. The Loma Prieta Chapter supports the efforts of members to overturn Citizens United by working with organizations, such as Move to Amend (http://movetoamend.org), to pass a Constitutional Amendment clearly stating that corporations are not persons endowed with fundamental rights under the Constitution. Corporations are an efficient means of conducting business and would continue to have powers granted by states, such as the right to sue and be sued, own property, and any other characteristics so granted, but they should not be able to escape proper regulation by claiming the rights of human beings.
An example of the environmental destruction encouraged by this decision can be found in the practice of mountaintop removal by the coal industry in West Virginia. To get coal more cheaply than it would cost to hire more miners, vast areas of West Virginia and other Appalachian States, with some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, have been leveled. Even though most residents oppose the destruction of their environment with the resulting pollution of streams and ruining of local economies, the great majority of West Virginia politicians will not stand with them because of the political power of the coal companies. After Citizens United, according to a leaked letter from the coal industry, the industry is now in a position to fund a Super PAC with the purpose of defeating "any anti-coal" candidates as well as electing pro-coal candidates in select races. This sad example is only one of many that could be cited. For those interested in learning how corporate personhood was inserted into the Constitution and what can be done to end it, an excellent book is Corporations Are Not People by attorney Jeffrey D. Clements.
With the huge increase in political spending by Super PACs, many of which are funded by multi-national corporations with significant foreign funding, groups such as Move to Amend, Common Cause, and Public Citizen are responding with a very fast growing movement to end to the political corruption directly caused by Citizens United. It should be noted that this movement is non-partisan with many Republicans, including John McCain, in support. The first practical steps we can take are to ask our elected bodies to pass resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. On July 5, 2012, the California Senate joined the Assembly by passing such a resolution. Hundreds of cities, counties, and states have passed or are in the process of considering resolutions. Locally, Mountain View and Los Altos Hills have passed resolutions, and resolutions are pending in Campbell, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Milpitas, Santa Clara, and San Jose.
Call to Action
You can join us in taking action by supporting a resolution in your city. Move to Amend is meeting with individual council members and attending council meetings. You can review the progress, see updates on the status of resolutions in specific cities, and join a local group at Move to Amend, http://movetoamend.org/resolutions-map. Or contact Brian Carr, the Loma Prieta contact person for the movement, at 408-356-0025 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest Update Jan -07-2013
A new group "Peninsulans 4 Corporate Regulation" is working to set up meeting with US congress persons to pursue reining in the definition of corporate personhood. A letter was sent to Anne Eshoo asking her to schedule a meeting. A copy is attached.