, Kingston, NH

Letters to the Editor

February 20, 2014

Vote ‘No’ on Hampstead’s #17

Vote ‘No’ on Hampstead’s #17

The petitioners of Article 17, Hampstead Town Warrant, ask voters to tell Congress to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to 1) safeguard free and fair elections through authority to regulate political spending and 2) clarify that constitutional rights were established for people, not corporations. Further, they direct voters to instruct all town, state, and congressional representatives to support passage of the Amendment.

The petitioners explained that their goal is to protect our right to free speech by silencing corporations.

Wow, how altruistic and patriotic!

Think again…

This article is simply part of a nationwide, bald-faced effort—led by and—to nullify Citizens United, the 2010 US Supreme Court decision that overturned a federal ban on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The Court rejected the proposition that the government can decide who gets to speak and can ban some from speaking at all.

Isn’t that precisely what Article 17 proposes to do?

Citizens United so infuriated Obama that, during his 2010 State of the Union address, he upbraided the Court for “…revers(ing) a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests–including foreign corporations–to spend without limit in our elections.”

To which Justice Alito mouthed the words “not true” from the floor because the decision upheld free speech and did not affect contributions. It is still illegal for companies and labor unions to give money directly to candidates for federal office.

So, why the tizzy?

Because Citizens United opened the gates for huge contributions to super-PACs, “social welfare”groups, and some other nonprofits, such as business leagues. The latter groups can function the same way as super-PACs, so long as election activity is not their primary activity. But unlike the super-PACs, nonprofits do not report who funds them.

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