Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Most Valuable Idea of 2010: Amend the Constitution

John Nichols at The Nation has posted a "Progressive Honor Roll" of the best ideas, activists and legislators of the year. His pick for Best Idea: amending the constitution to dismantle the rights granted to corporations through the Citizens United decision.

Read the full list online here.

Conservatives know the power of proposing constitutional amendments. Even when they don't succeed, amendment campaigns educate people about issues and get them engaged at the local, state and national levels. In recent years progressives have been cautious about the Constitution. But after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision freed corporations to use their immense resources to buy elections, two groups responded with aggressive challenges to the notion that businesses should enjoy the same rights as citizens. Free Speech for People, a campaign sponsored by Public Citizen, US PIRG, Voter Action, the Center for Corporate Policy and American Independent Business Alliance, seeks to counter the Court's move with "a constitutional amendment of our own that puts people ahead of corporations." (Representative Donna Edwards has introduced an amendment, with backing from outgoing Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers.) Another group, Move to Amend (with support from Progressive Democrats of America, the National Lawyers Guild and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, among others), proposes a broader "multi-year movement to amend the Constitution" that would use state legislative resolutions to force Congressional action on "democracy amendments" or schedule a constitutional convention. These campaigns are capturing the imaginations of activists. By year's end, Move to Amend had almost 100,000 signers.

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