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Jan-21-2012 13:28printcomments

Merkley Statement on Second Anniversary of Citizens United

Supreme Court decision creates “government by and for the powerful”

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley

(PORTLAND) - Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued a statement Friday on the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited secret donations by corporations in elections.

“Our nation is unique in world history in that it was founded on the simple idea that the people are in charge. However, our legacy of democracy is threatened by this Supreme Court decision that allows corporations unlimited secret spending to influence elections.

“As we’ve seen dramatically in the Republican presidential primaries, the massive amount of money flowing into our elections by super PACs is swamping the airwaves and altering outcomes. Every person should have a right to their say – that’s the beauty of the First Amendment. But corporations are not people, they are legal entities created by our laws to foster commerce.

“When corporate officers spend stockholders’ assets on the officers’ political opinion, it perverts free speech. It takes the assets of many to fund the opinions of the few.

“It was President Lincoln who described the genius of American democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. Citizens United is the opposite: it is government by and for the powerful. It is a stadium sound system drowning out the voice of the people. It is, indeed, a dagger pointed at the heart of American democracy.”

If you are interested in learning more about Citizens United, visit this report published this week:

Occupations and Rallies in Opposition to Citizens United Case - Ralph E. Stone Salem-News.com

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BenDoubleCrossed January 22, 2012 12:43 pm (Pacific time)

Mainstream media corporations are the ultimate Super Pacs and they are exempt from campaign laws. From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms of speech, press and assembly were the sole rights of flesh and blood citizens. From 1886 to 1973 flesh and blood citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms of speech and the press. From 1974 to present only the commercial media enjoy unrestricted freedom of speech and the press. Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs. 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate; And what is the difference between slanted news stories or editorial opinions and political ads anyway? "Section 431(9)(B)(i) makes a distinction where there is no real difference: the media is extremely powerful by any measure, a "special interest" by any definition, and heavily engaged in the "issue advocacy" and "independent expenditure" realms of political persuasion that most editorial boards find so objectionable when anyone other than a media outlet engages in it. The media’s crocodile tears about the evils of money in politics is so hypocritical. Distributing political ads to the masses is the biggest expense of political campaigns. If the media were to carry political ads, as a public service, it would greatly reduce the need for money in politics! But corporate media are the recipient of billions of dollars in campaign ads. The 1st Amendment is not a loophole in campaign laws. Campaign laws are corruption of the 1st Amendment. Amendment 1 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The National Rifle Association purchased a radio station to get around existing campaign laws. Should citizens and citizens groups have to buy a radio station to enjoy freedom of speech or a newspaper to enjoy freedom of the press? To restore equal protection under law the press exemption must be extended to citizens and citizens groups! People don’t lose their rights when they associate in groups, whether it’s a corporation, a labor union, a nonprofit organization or even a newspaper.

Ralph E. Stone January 22, 2012 8:01 am (Pacific time)

Senator Jeff Merkley should consider introducing a resolution in the Oregon Senate opposing the Citizens United decision and supporting a Constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood. Hawaii has done so already and California is now considering such a resolution.

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