March 27, 2013

Clements J.D. ’88: Citizens United Ruled Incorrectly

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Former Mass. Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clements J.D. ’88 spoke Wednesday about his efforts to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The case, settled in 2010, held that the government may not limit corporate spending on political campaigns.

Clements, who has founded a national campaign — Free Speech for People — to try to overturn Citizens United v. FEC,  said Americans face a serious issue of money dominating politics. He said that democratic elections are being dominated — and unfairly influenced — by billionaires.

According to Clements, 200 people contributed 75 percent of donated money to the 2012 presidential campaign, 32 people contributed as much as the entire “small donor pool” — which is comprised of people who donate under $200 per election cycle — and 1,900 donors were responsible for 97 percent of Super PAC money.

These numbers demonstrate that only a small elite controls political debate, according to Clements, which he said means that there is a narrow range of debate that will be heard by elected officials.

Clements said that most Americans do not support the political domination of the elite and would like to see more of a balance in the election process.

“Someone with as much as 10 bucks should count as much as someone with 100 million bucks,” he said.

Clement also said that treating corporations like people — the premise of Citizens United, which extends the First Amendment right to free speech to corporations — has led to corporate influence in politics.

“This idea that corporations are the same as people can have such a detrimental impact … [having the effect of striking] down laws that are essentially inconvenient to corporations,” Clements said.

Clement argued that corporations are not human beings, and that they should not be protected under the Bill of Rights.

As a solution to the Citizens United ruling, Clement proposed creating a twenty-eighth amendment to our Constitution overturning the decision.  Although Clement said he recognizes that passing an amendment is not an easy task, he said it that it is a realistic goal, based on the reality testing that he has done so far.

So far, more than 500 cities and towns, 11 states, 2,000 business leaders and religious leaders have  expressed support for the amendment, according to Clement.

Original Author: Margaret Yoder