by Jeff Clements. The writer is the Co-Founder and Board Chair of Free Speech For People and the author of the 2014 updated and expanded edition of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money and Global Corporations)
In the November 2012 election, the same Montana voters who gave the State’s presidential electoral votes to Republican Mitt Romney by a wide margin also approved a ballot initiative that called for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Challenging the twin propositions on which that 5-4 decision precariously rests, the ballot question declared the policy of Montana as follows:
(1) Political spending may be regulated in order to defend the integrity of elections, prevent corruption, and to defend the political equality of all Americans; and
(2) corporations do not have the Constitutional rights of human beings but rather have the rights and obligations of state corporation laws.
Montana voters passed the ballot initiative by 75-25%, making Montana the 16th state to call for the 28th Amendment.
Some were surprised by the overwhelming margin. Clearly, many Montana conservatives and Republicans joined Democrats, progressives and independents in supporting the ballot initiative and the overturning of Citizens United. The landslide margin, however, followed similar results in virtually every region of the country when Americans have had a chance to vote on the question of Citizens United (as they did in Colorado and in hundreds of cities and towns that have enacted Constitutional amendment resolutions.) Indeed, conservative opposition to special Constitutional rights for corporations and the protection of political privilege for an elite of large donors is not new. It is rooted in the traditional American concern about concentrations of power corrupting republican government.