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Ballot question sends signal on campaign money

To the editor:

The 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling defines corporations, which are artificial entities created by state charter, as people with the same free speech rights as human beings. As people, they can flood money into political campaigns without revealing sources of funding.

Remedies to counter the effects of Citizens United have thus far been ineffective or failed:

• The Supreme Court can reverse a misguided decision, but there is no reason to expect this from the current court.

• Existing campaign finance laws can be enforced. But the agency with this charge, the Federal Election Commission, is no longer an effective body with five of the six commissioners serving expired terms.

• Proposed legislation to disclose the donor names for contributions of $10,000 or more has twice failed in the Senate.

• States can challenge the Citizens United ruling. But in June the Supreme Court struck down a Montana ban on corporate political money.

• The U.S. Constitution can be amended as has been done 27 times before. Voters in Stan Rosenberg’s district can register our displeasure at the ballot box by calling for such an amendment.

On Nov. 6 we can vote yes to “instruct the state senator to vote for a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that 1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings and 2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and spending.”

This is Question 4 in Amherst, Northampton, Leverett, Shutesbury and Sunderland. It is Question 5 in Hadley, Hatfield, Pelham and South Hadley.

Even though the Massachusetts Legislature recently became the seventh state in the country to call for such an amendment, this ballot question still matters. With each vote we add to the groundswell of public disapproval of the 2010 Supreme Court decision.

Elaine Trehub
Joan Rabin


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