Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Upcoming talk, action in Vermont Xgr highlights "corporate personhood"

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- A scheduled Feb. 8 talk at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown and action last week in the Vermont Legislature highlight growing interest in the movement to redefine whether U.S. corporations should be "people" for legal purposes under the Constitution.

On Feb. 8, John Bonifaz, co-foudner of "Free Speech for People," and legal director of Voter Action, will speak on "Grassroots solutions to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission." The free talk begins at 7:30 p.m. at the church.


Citizens United v Federal Election Commission was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. The Court struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting "electioneering communications." This was not a Supreme Court decision that left analysts on the fence. Opponents called the 5-4 vote that lifted restrictions on political donations a blow to free speech, and supporters declared it a long-overdue liberation from an unconstitutional gag order.

Bonifaz is a 1999 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. The Foundation award stated: "Bonifaz, a public interest lawyer, uses innovative litigation to reexamine campaign finance reform arguments typically debated on first amendment grounds. Through the National Voting Rights Institute, an organization he founded, Bonifaz recasts the legal arguments to focus on fourteenth amendment protections, challenging the relationship between money and politics."

The following are sponsors of this public conversation: Williams College Political Science Department, Williams Students for Social Justice, Williamstown Democratic Town Committee, Lanesborough Town Democratic Committee, Progressive Democrats of America, The Berkshire Brigades, he Center for Community Engagement, The League of Women Voters of Williamstown and The First Congregational Church, Williamstown.

Meanwhile, in Vermont last week, a state senator introduced a resolution which would withdraw rights of "corporate personhood" from corporations in Vermont. If such a measure were adopted by the state, it would force a constitutional challenge and put the issue again before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here's a link to a story about Sen. Virginia Lyon's action:


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