Working late into the night last Tuesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution urging that Congress support and send to the states for ratification, a twenty-eighth amendment to the Constitution aimed at curbing corporate and labor union money in politics.
The issue was among several others taken up by the House on the night of July 31, moments before the end of its legislative session and four days after the Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the nonbinding resolution, by a vote of 35 to 1.
Massachusetts is now the seventh state to pass such a resolution.
‘All this is a huge step forward,’ wrote a blogger in a posting on the website of ‘Free Speech for People’, an organization pushing for passage of the resolution . ‘ Thanks to your efforts and those of other citizens throughout the state who stood up for the principle that we, the people, not we, the corporations are the ones in charge of American democracy.’
In 2010, the U.S Supreme Court in its landmark ‘Citizens United decision’, ruled federal laws barring corporations and labor unions from contributing money to outside groups and political action committees running election ads favoring or opposing a candidate, was unconstitutional.
Critics say the decision has ushered in a flood of special interest money from anonymous donors into the election process, under the guise of corporate person hood, leading many to call for a Constitutional amendment clearly stating that free speech and other rights apply only to actual people and that money is not political speech.
Since the ruling, a grassroots movement spearheaded by organizations such as frees speech for people and move to amend, have sought to build support at the state and local level, by introducing nonbinding resolutions at the state and local level endorsing such an amendment. So far, over 200 cities and towns across the country, including 68 in Massachusetts have passed such resolutions along with the states of California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.