Senator Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden) submitted a Joint Resolution (J.R.S. 11) on Friday calling on the United States Congress to amend the United States Constitution, essentially to take existing civil rights away from citizens organizing themselves as corporations.
The resolution is a direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, in which the Court ruled that a federal ban on corporate spending during the 60 days prior to an election was a violation of First Amendment rights.
As Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out in his majority opinion,
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”… The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations-including nonprofit advocacy corporations-either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. Thus, the following acts would all be felonies under §441b: The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U. S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate’s defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.
Senator Lyons apparently believes these sorts of acts by citizens, peaceably assembled under the frameworks of corporations and seeking redress of their government should be fined, jailed or both.
To testify in favor of her resolution, Senator Lyons brought in a gentleman by the name of David Cobb to make the case. Mr. Cobb identified himself as a former Green Party candidate for President of the United States, and proudly touted his record as having been “jailed for justice.”
His testimony is an enlightening look at the kind of people our elected representatives turn to for advice on how to govern the rest of us.
The other senators joining Senator Lyons in sponsoring this resolution are Dick Sears (D-Bennington), Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), Claire Ayer (D-Addison), Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden), Sally Fox (D-Chittenden), Harold Giard (D-Addison), Mark MacDonald (D-Orange), Dick McCormack (D-Windsor), Hinda Miller (D-Chittenden) and Anthony Pollina (D-Washington)