PEOPLE FOR BLOG

Stop School Bullying this GSA Day!

Following the increased media attention paid to bullying-related suicides in 2010, Senator Al Franken took a strong stand on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and those who are perceived to be LGBT. His Student Non-Discrimination Act (S. 555) protects them from school-based discrimination, much like Title IX does for gender discrimination, and much like other areas of law do for various protected classes. It recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Today, Senator Franken has an important video announcement for you regarding S. 555.

On the occasion of GSA Day 2012, when we celebrate the work of Gay-Straight Alliances that bringing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied people together to stop bullying, homophobia, transphobia and hate, PFAW has called on you to be part of the solution.

Below are some quick talking points (more detailed talking points here) you can use in your call and to help promote awareness about the bill.
  • Celebrate Gay-Straight Alliance Day by supporting and cosponsoring the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
  • Bullying and harassment are forms of discrimination, but federal civil rights statutes leave LGBT students, and those who are perceived to be LGBT, unprotected.
  • Bullying and harassment in schools is a pervasive national problem.
  • Both Americans overall and education professionals in particular recognize the problem and support congressional action.
  • When students lose their sense of safety, they lose their access to quality education.
  • As Congress works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it should address the bullying and harassment problem.
  • This isn’t just a question of education. It’s a matter of life and death.
Please call your senators now: Capitol Switchboard - (202) 224-3121

You can let us know how your call went with our online call report form.

More than one third of the Senate already supports the Student Non-Discrimination Act. You can check for your senators on the list here and if one or both of your senators are on it, please make your call a “thank you” call.

PFAW

Pressure Increases on Ocean City Officials to Drop Boykin

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch

With Jerry Boykin set to keynote the Mayor’s Prayer breakfast in Ocean City, Maryland on Thursday, pressure is increasing on city officials to drop the controversial speaker. Boykin routinely spouts extremist views, including calling for the U.S. to ban mosques and strip Muslims of their First Amendment rights. People For the American Way sent a letter to members of the city council and mayor Rick Meehan asking them to rescind Boykin’s invitation, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Auburn Theological Seminary, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign and Faith in Public Life have also raised questions about Boykin’s appearance.

The mayor has so far stood by Boykin, absurdly claiming that “Boykin has not said anything controversial in his recent public appearances.” Boykin, however, recently maintained that the Council of Foreign Relations and George Soros are creating a global Marxist government. He has also claimed that President Obama is using the health care reform law to build a Marxist dictatorship with a personal “Brownshirt” army. Boykin himself bragged, “I am intolerant,” and demanded Christians “go on the offensive” against Islam.

ABC Baltimore covered the controversy surrounding Boykin last night, including Boykin’s record of religious bigotry:

The Baltimore Sun also looked into Boykin’s appearance, noting that he was reprimanded during the Bush administration for making speeches in uniform in which he claimed that the U.S. military is involved in a religious war against Islam:

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, said his group wants the mayor to refuse to attend to the event, or to force the organizer to revoke Boykin's invitation. More than 700 people have emailed Meehan and town officials since Monday through a tool on its website to protest the gathering, according to the group, which says its mission is to advocate for equality, free speech and freedom of religion.

"Ocean City works hard to maintain its reputation as a family-friendly destination open to all-comers," Keegan said in a statement. "An official endorsement of Jerry Boykin would send the wrong message about what the city stands for."

Boykin did not respond to requests for an interview. He travels the country for speaking engagements and was near Charleston, S.C., earlier this month to introduce GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown.



Boykin was rebuked by President George W. Bush in 2003 after Boykin publicly described a U.S. Army battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia in 1993, saying: "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." He also gave unauthorized speeches at evangelical church functions while serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has said Boykin has a "long, shameful history of extreme and bigoted views."

Meehan did not respond to a request for an interview. Spokeswoman Abbott said the mayor was tied up in budget meetings Tuesday.

Meehan is hopeful that Boykin's remarks will be respectful, Abbott said.

"We have been assured that remarks made will not be divisive or inflammatory remarks," she said. "He wants to allow the speaker to have his say, and we have been given no indication that the topic will be anything but inspirational."

The breakfast's organizer, Bruce Spangler, did not return a call for comment. Spangler, however, told The Dispatch newspaper in Ocean City earlier this month that he was excited about Boykin's appearance, calling Boykin an expert on Islamic history and saying his "testimony" would be too exciting to miss.

"This country was founded on biblical values, and we are getting away from that," Spangler told The Dispatch.
PFAW

President Sheds Light on Judicial Nominations Crisis, Urges End to Senate Obstruction

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama addressed the unprecedented Senate obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees and urged senators to end the nominations gridlock.

Since Obama became president, the Senate GOP has conducted a steady campaign of obstruction against even entirely uncontroversial judicial and executive nominees. The statistics are unmistakable. Under President Bush, circuit court nominees waiting an average of 30 days for a vote from the full Senate after approval from the Judiciary Committee. Under President Obama, they have waited an average of 137 days. And district court nominees, who have traditionally been quickly and easily confirmed except under the most extraordinary circumstances have waited an average of 90 days for a Senate vote, compared to just 22 days under President Bush. The result has been a historic vacancy crisis in the federal courts, with over ten percent of seats vacant or soon to be vacant.

PFAW’s Marge Baker issued a statement last night echoing the president’s call for an end to the obstruction:

“President Obama is right to call for an end to such irresponsible and politically-motivated obstruction of his nominees,” said Marge Baker of People For the American Way. “For too long, the GOP has gotten away with its destructive agenda of obstruction, which has left more than 1 out of 10 federal judgeships vacant and resulted in unconscionable delays for Americans seeking their day in court. Laws exist to protect all of us, and courts are where the 99% and the 1% stand as equals. But even the best of laws don’t count for much if there aren’t enough judges to enforce them. Republicans in the Senate must start doing the job the American people hired them to do. The American courts are no place for partisan politics.”

We hope that the Senate takes the message to heart.
 

PFAW

Video from PFAW Panel: Constitutional Remedies to Overturning Citizens United

People For the American Way’s Marge Baker moderated a panel discussion on Capitol Hill about the necessity of a constitutional amendment to address out-of-control corporate spending on elections made possible by Citizens United. A rapidly growing constellation of elected leaders, grass roots organizations and by a 48 point margin Americans believe that deep-pocketed corporations should not be able to overpower the will of the American people. Supporters of constitutional remedies to restore the balance of power to the people have reached a “movement moment”: ten constitutional amendments have been introduced in the 112th Congress, and dozens of state and local resolutions opposing the decision have been adopted in towns, cities and states across the country.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way, was joined by Senator Tom Udall, Representative Ted Deutch, Representative Keith Ellison, Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and Colorado Activist Elena Nuñez for the discussion.

 

“Money, lobbyists and special interests have too much influence and we’ve got to get control of it.” –Sen. Tom Udall

“At this moment, we have to amend the constitution to clarify that for-profit corporations cannot spend their money, every dollar of which they raised for commercial purposes, to influence the outcome of elections.”–Rep. Ted Deutch

“I introduced my constitutional amendment because I believe America should be a democracy, not a plutocracy.” –Rep. Keith Ellison

“This is not an anti-business thing. We want corporations to thrive, but we don’t want them to govern.” –Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin

“Money can drown out our voices…we have to take it out of the court’s hands and give it back to the people – and now is the time to do it.” –NYC Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito

“Once people understood that there was something we could do, that a constitutional amendment was a way to regain the people’s voice…people really gravitated to it.” –Elena Nuñez, Colorado Common Cause

PFAW

CAIR and Auburn Theological Seminary Join Call for Ocean City to Disinvite Boykin

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch.

On Thursday, People For the American Way sent a letter to the mayor and city council of Ocean City, Maryland, urging them to rescind their invitation to retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin to headline this week’s Mayor’s Prayer breakfast. Boykin, whom PFAW president Michael Keegan called “one of the most bigoted and offensive figures on the national stage,” makes his living by spreading Islamophobia and conspiracy theories. He has, among other things, said that Islam is not protected under the First Amendment, that there should be no more mosques in America and that President Obama used health care reform to create a “brownshirt” army loyal just to him.

Now, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City are joining the call for Ocean City to rethink its Prayer Breakfast speaker.

In a letter to Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan, CAIR wrote:

We question the appropriateness of this choice for an official event, given Boykin's long, shameful history of extreme and bigoted views. . . It will be a discredit to your office and a disservice to the citizens of Ocean City if such a man is allowed to spread his divisive falsehoods and prejudiced ideas at a government-sponsored function.

We respectfully ask whether any taxpayer funds are being spent on this year's Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, and how your office plans to address the appearance of an official endorsement of Boykin's extremist views. We ask that you reconsider inviting him, given that the biased ideas he espouses -- though protected by the First Amendment -- should be repudiated, not given a legitimizing platform.

Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Theological Seminary, issued a public statement on Boykin’s invitiation:

It is outrageous that Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin is scheduled to be the featured speaker at this week’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Anyone who has conducted a Google search on Boykin would know that he frequently employs hateful rhetoric and endorses wild conspiracy theories about American Muslims.

Our nation is stronger when we place these sorts of attacks on American Muslims out of bounds. A prayer breakfast should be a time for celebrating our shared religious and faith commitments to the dignity of all people, not an opportunity to spout hateful rhetoric about millions of American citizens. The right thing to do in this situation is for Ocean's City's Mayor to respectfully and forcefully tell Boykin that he will not be delivering remarks at the upcoming breakfast because of his history of hateful attacks on American Muslims and Muslims generally.


Meanwhile, DelmarvaNow.com, a local paper, is reporting that the breakfast is scheduled to go ahead, but that the mayor and city council are beginning to feel the heat and distance themselves from Boykin:

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had first heard of Boykin's views in early December, and that she had been assured he would speak appropriately at the breakfast. In the past couple days, she has received more than 300 emails from people about the event, most of which are forwarded versions of the emails circulated about it by the two protesting organizations. Councilman Brent Ashley’s inbox had more than 170 messages.

Knight said Tuesday she is not sure whether she attend — she hadn’t bought a ticket yet. Ashley said he has a prior engagement, and will not attend the breakfast.

Since the story was published, over 700 Maryland members of People For the American Way have written to the mayor and city council urging them to reject Boykin’s message of hate.
 

PFAW

Join the Online March for Trust Women Week!

Yesterday, I asked you to join the Online March for Trust Women Week. PFAW supporters are among the 66,000 and counting who’ve already marched. If you haven’t yet, please join now!

Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, women’s reproductive freedom and health are still under attack.

The Tea Party Congress has moved aggressively to shut down women's access to reproductive health care and deny women the basic right to choose by targeting their health insurance and key healthcare providers, most notably, Planned Parenthood. In the states, a movement is afoot to make abortions illegal by conferring the status of “personhood” on embryos, and various state legislatures have taken up bills that would erect insurmountable barriers to women exercising their right to choose.

People For the American Way is proud to be partnering with the Silver Ribbon Campaign and an extremely broad coalition of organizations to promote the Virtual March celebrating Trust Women Week.

It is imperative that we begin 2012 with a powerful event that builds solidarity and momentum for reproductive health, rights and justice.

Join the Virtual March now and send your views to Congress and other elected officials where key decisions are pending about reproductive health, rights and justice.

You'll see your actions on an online map where you can also see who else is joining you, nearby and nationwide.

Choose from messages like:
  • “I trust women and I vote”
  • “Reproductive rights are human rights”
  • “We are the 99%. Fix the economy, and stop the war on women”
  • And more.
Join the march now and then help spread the word!

You can find out more about Trust Women Week at http://oursilverribbon.org.

Thank you for standing up for women’s rights and against right-wing attacks on reproductive freedom.
PFAW

Newt Still Following His Own Advice: Smear, Slander, Attack

Newt Gingrich fired up the audience at last night's debate when he turned a question about an interview with his ex-wife into a raging diatribe against the news media.  Attacking the media has been one of Newt's key campaign strategies, so last night's deflection should have come as no surprise. But it must be said:  Newt's denunciation of the “destructive, vicious, negative” nature of the news media, and his complaint that it makes it "harder to run this county, harder to attract decent people to run for public office" is even more hypocritical than having an affair while giving speeches about family values. His entire political career has been based on destructive, vicious, negative attacks on his opponents. In the 1990s, his GOPAC produced "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control," an infamous list of words that Gingrich said Republicans should use to smear and denigrate their opponents. Among the suggested words was “destructive,” along with “traitors,” “sick,” and “betray.”  Gingrich perfected the kind of hyper-partisan politics of destruction that are currently making it harder to run the country, and harder to attract decent people to run for office. Obviously, decency hasn’t been a barrier for Newt’s own ambitions.

PFAW

Revisionist History & 'The Food Stamp President': Celebrating MLK Day with the GOP Candidates

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

The GOP presidential candidates had every right to hold a debate in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Day, Jr. Day this week, but maybe, out of a sense of self-preservation, they should have thought twice about the timing. What could have been an opportunity for the candidates to express their support for the myriad advances of the Civil Rights movement and to address the real challenges that remain instead turned into a mess of racially-charged attacks on African Americans, immigrants and the poor.

he fact that the disgraceful show took place on a day dedicated to celebrating the Civil Rights movement threw into sharp relief the narrow cultural corner into which the GOP has painted itself.

The trouble for the GOP's civil rights celebrations started early in the day. Mitt Romney spent the day campaigning in South Carolina with Kris Kobach , the prominent anti-immigrant activist who, after a stint at a nativist hate group, so-called "FAIR", helped write draconian anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama. Romney has praised Kobach's record, calling him "a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country." (Romney's choice of company should perhaps come as no surprise. Another prominent endorser who now heads the candidate's legal policy team, former Judge Robert Bork, has said the Civil Rights Act was built on "a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.")

Meanwhile, the leaders of the South Carolina GOP, including Gov. Nikki Haley, had lunch with right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton , who "led the crowd through a timeline demonstrating the role Democrats of the day played in perpetuating the existence of slavery in the United States." Telling a selective history of American racism is something of a specialty for Barton, a former Texas GOP operative. In his video "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White," Barton attempts to tie the modern Democratic party to slavery, lynching and the Ku Klux Klan - while conveniently ignoring the GOP's "southern strategy" and the party realignment spurred by the Civil Rights movement, which led to many of the Democrats that he referred to becoming Republican. One can only imagine the dubious history lesson the governor and her allies were treated to before moving on to watch the night's debate.

But the GOP's offensive daytime holiday activities could not match the evening's event. Texas Gov. Rick Perry started things off by dusting off the racially charged rhetoric of the segregated south to attack the Voting Rights Act . Under the act, the Justice Department has the power to review voting law changes in states with a history of disenfranchising minorities. Perry called the DOJ's review of Texas' voter ID law an "assault" and said the rejection of a similar law in South Carolina, the home of Fort Sumter, had led the state to be "at war with the federal government." He was met with loud cheers from the audience and a big smile from Gov. Haley.

Never to be outdone, former House speaker Newt Gingrich stepped up the attack on African Americans. Asked by moderator Juan Williams about his previous dubbing of President Obama as the "food stamp president" and his insistence that he would "talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich dug in his heels , to the delight of the audience. "Can't you see that this is viewed, at a minimum as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?" asked Williams. "No, I don't see that," Gingrich replied, to roaring applause, before repeating his call for low-income children to be put to work as janitors in their schools.

And those were just the lowlights. Romney, in response to a trick question from Rick Santorum, declared his opposition to extending voting rights to convicted felons, an issue that disproportionately affects the African American community. Later, he repeated his promise to veto the DREAM Act, which would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to build meaningful lives in the United States.

I can't presume to know what Dr. King would think of the way the GOP presidential candidates celebrated his birthday, but I can't imagine he would have enjoyed the party. Almost fifty years after the March on Washington, the leaders of a major political party are trying to curb voting rights, drinking in revisionist American history, and shamelessly exploiting racial tensions for political gain.

Martin Luther King Day isn't just a celebration of the great strides made by a previous generation -- it's a call to action for those who want to preserve and protect the values that Dr. King preached. The spectacle in South Carolina was a powerful reminder that despite how far we have come, we have a long way to go to realize Dr. King's dream.

PFAW

Citizens United Bad for Small Business

A new poll released by the American Sustainable Business Council shows that two-thirds American small business owners view the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United as bad for small businesses and overwhelmingly believe that corporations have been given too much freedom to spend money to influence political campaigns.

With small business owners joining the majority of individual citizens who believe that the Citizens United decision is bad for America, it is clear who the only beneficiaries are: huge corporations who can afford to contribute millions to Super PAC’s and hire lobbyists to effectively buy the legislations and politicians they want. Here are the main findings of the poll:

 

Unlimited corporate political spending hurts us all, from damaging the small businesses that create jobs to our fundamental democratic values.

People For the American Way, along with thousands of Americans and organizations under the United For the People banner, is organizing a month of action to advocate for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and restore the balance of power to the people.

PFAW

Perry Attacks Voting Rights Act on MLK Day

At yesterday’s Martin Luther King Day GOP debate in South Carolina, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that South Carolina is “at war with the federal government” and that Texas is “under assault” because of disputes over the states’ voter ID laws.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave the Justice Department the power to review voting law changes in states that have a history of disenfranchising minority voters. In December, the Department rejected South Carolina’s law, finding that it unfairly targeted minority voters, who are 20 percent more likely than whites to lack the required ID. Texas’ voter ID law is still under review.

The unmistakable historical echoes of Perry’s comments were disturbing, even more so because they were made on a day dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement. Yesterday, People For the American Way’s director of African American religious affairs, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, wrote in the Huffington Post that many of the voting rights struggles of the Civil Rights era are still alive today:


But since 2008, our right to vote has been under an unprecedented attack. Shortly after the election, over half of Republican voters said that the presidential election had been stolen for Barack Obama by ACORN, an organization that worked to register new voters -- including many African Americans. In response to this myth, promoted by the right-wing media and politicians, state legislatures across the country have been trying to make it harder to register to vote. The most common form this takes is Voter ID laws, which, under the guise of preventing the over-hyped problem of "voter fraud," in fact keep millions of voters from the polls. These laws, which are on the books or being considered in 41 states, target voters who don't have certain types of government ID -- overwhelmingly the young, the elderly and persons of color.


What is even more discouraging than the faulty basis of these restrictive laws is where they come from. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group funded by large corporations that writes legislation for state legislators, is pushing these voter ID laws to states around the country. Why do big business interests care about restricting voting rights? Because voting is the only way those of us without millions of dollars to spend on elections can make our voices, and the issues we care about, heard.


PFAW Foundation released an extensive report last year on right-wing efforts to chip away at the voting rights of minorities, young people and the poor.
 

PFAW

Does Romney Think that 60% of Americans Are Jealous of Him?

In an interview with Matt Lauer this morning, Mitt Romney repeated three times his claim that widespread concern about income inequality is motivated by “envy.”

It’s a pretty bold assertion, given that as recently as November, 60 percent of Americans supported government efforts to address historically high income inequality. And it’s especially bold coming from the mouth of a multi-hundred-millionaire in a time of 8.5% unemployment – especially a multi-hundred-millionaire who made his fortune helping large corporations lay off workers and outsource jobs.

Until fairly recently, Republicans had united behind the vapid phrase “class warfare” to describe efforts to require the wealthiest to pay their fair share in taxes and companies to abide by reasonable regulations. But in the heat of the New Hampshire primary, both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry tapped into the widespread anger about the slash-and-burn capitalism that got Romney where he is today.

In his New Hampshire victory speech last night, Romney accused his rivals of being “desperate” and putting “free enterprise on trial.” But perhaps they were just quicker to realize that dismissing the economic concerns of a majority of Americans as “envy” might not be the smartest move.

 

PFAW

Corporate Court Rewrites Credit Law to Favor the 1%

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued an 8-1 opinion in CompuCredit v. Greenwood, written by Justice Scalia, that will bring cheer to powerful corporations that break the law and leave everyday consumers feeling shell-shocked. It turns out that a congressional requirement that companies tell consumers that they have the "right to sue" really doesn't mean much.

CompuCredit is a "credit-repair company" that marketed a subprime credit card to vulnerable consumers with bad credit. It told them that no deposit was required and that they would get $300 in credit upon issuance of the card. However, in small print separate from the "no deposit" promise, it disclosed that it would charge $185 in fees immediately and $257 in fees over the first year. The customers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of others who were taken in, saying that CompuCredit violated the federal Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA).

However, CompuCredit had required its customers, as a condition of getting the credit card, to sign away their right to sue in a court of law or to engage in any type of class action, forcing them to agree to one-on-one binding arbitration instead. So the company demanded that the class action suit be thrown out of court, citing an obscure but devastatingly important federal law called the Federal Arbitration Act, which generally requires courts to enforce contracts requiring arbitration agreements unless a specific federal statute says otherwise.

The question was whether CompuCredit had the right to make its customers sign a contract agreeing to arbitration. CROA requires credit providers to specifically tell customers in writing that "you have a right to sue," a requirement that CompuCredit had met. In addition, CROA specifically prohibits any contractual provisions that waive a customer's rights under the statute. So the customers argue that their agreement to forego their right to sue in court is void.

In order to rule for the large company that cheated its vulnerable customers, the six-Justice majority opinion had to turn logic on its head. The five conservatives, joined by Justice Breyer, explained with a straight face that:

[The phrase "right to sue"] is a colloquial method of communicating to consumers that they have the legal right, enforceable in court, to recover damages from credit repair organizations that violate the CROA. We think most consumers would understand it this way, without regard to whether the suit in court has to be preceded by an arbitration proceeding.

Yes, it turns out that everyday people interpret the "right to sue" as including private arbitration. If this bizarre supposition didn't hurt so many innocent people, it would be laughable. At least Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, in their concurrence, recognized that the people the statute was designed to protect might interpret "right to sue" to mean "right to sue in court." Unfortunately, even they felt it was a close call as to whether that's what Congress intended.

Only Justice Ginsburg got this one right. As she wrote in her dissent:

The "right to sue," the [majority] explains, merely connotes the vindication of legal rights, whether in court or before an arbitrator. That reading may be comprehensible to one trained to "think like a lawyer." But Congress enacted the CROA with vulnerable consumers in mind—consumers likely to read the words "right to sue" to mean the right to litigate in court, not the obligation to submit disputes to binding arbitration.

Congress wrote this law for the 99%. Yesterday, the Corporate Court rewrote it for the 1%.

PFAW

Republican Party Comes Out in Support of Direct Corporate Contributions to Candidates

The Republican National Committee filed an amicus brief in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today challenging the century-old federal ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates for office. If successful, the challenge would further weaken the clean elections laws that were decimated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Citizens United struck down laws setting limits on the amount corporations could spend to influence elections via outside advocacy, but maintained the ban on direct corporate contributions.

It’s remarkable that the Republican Party is openly supporting a move that would amount to legalized pay-for-play by corporate donors. Under the weakened post-Citizens United rules, secretive groups that channel corporate money to influence elections have already gained enormous influence. Allowing corporations to contribute directly to campaigns would make the ties that bind wealthy corporations with elected officials even stronger.
 

PFAW

Marge Baker: We Are At a 'Movement Moment'

PFAW’s Marge Baker appeared on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan show yesterday, where she described the growing movement to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, the flawed 2010 Supreme Court decision that ultimately led to the “Super PAC,” resulting in toxic levels of corporate and special interest money spent on influencing our elections.

“The only answer we really have to the toxic issue of money in politics is to amend the Constitution,” said Baker. “We are working with a constellation of organizations with literally millions of members around the country, including Public Citizen, Common Cause, Move to Amend, our organization People for the American Way, Center for Media and Democracy and Free Speech For People, we are all working together as part of this umbrella called United for the People, and we are working to call attention to the problem of Citizens United and urge the amendment of the Constitution to address the problems.”

This is truly a grassroots movement, and Americans across the country are demanding change. Throughout this month surrounding the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, demonstrations at courthouses, statehouses and corporate headquarters have taken place across the country. Additionally, dozens of resolutions against the decision have been adopted at the local and state level. In the 112th Congress, ten proposed constitutional amendments have been proposed thus far.

“92% of Americans think there is too much money in politics,” continued Baker. “I think we’re in a movement moment. This movement is going to grow, and we’re going to see some real action.”

 

 

PFAW

Movement to Overturn Citizens United Gains Momentum as Anniversary Approaches

January 21 will mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending in elections, and the movement to overturn the decision is gaining steam.

As we approach the first post-Citizens United presidential election, we are already seeing the damage that unlimited and unaccountable money in politics can do. The 2010 midterm elections were dominated by secretive groups funneling corporate cash to political activities, and the Republican presidential primary has been greatly influenced by so-called Super PACs, which can spend millions supporting or opposing candidates.

In response to the growing outcry against Citizens United, People For the American Way has joined with a number of other advocacy groups to organize protests and organizing parties around the anniversary of the decision. People For’s Marge Baker writes more about the United For People movement in the Huffington Post today.

Marge will be discussing the anniversary activities and the push to overturn Citizens United with MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan this afternoon at 4:20 p.m. Eastern. Ratigan has a new op-ed out about the reasons to get money out of politics. Here’s an excerpt:

1) The Candidate With More Money Wins: From the 2008 elections: "In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, 2008 the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning."


2) Congress's Main Job Is to Raise Money, Not Govern "Here is a general rule of thumb for US House incumbents. They need to raise roughly $10,000 a week started the day they are elected."


3) 48 Percent Say Most Members of Congress Are Corrupt "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that most members of Congress are corrupt. Just 28% disagree, and another 24% are not sure."


4) Voters Think That Cash is King "A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 86 percent of the public thinks elected officials in the nation's capital are mostly influenced by the pressure they receive from campaign contributors."


5) No Trust in Elected Officials According to Pew Research less than 25% of people believe they can trust our government at all, particularly our elected officials.


Read the whole piece at the Huffington Post…and be sure to tune in this afternoon to hear Ratigan’s conversation with Marge Baker.
 

PFAW