Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Citizens United Amendment Summary


January 21, 2012 is the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

Joint Resolution Proposing the Twenty-third Am...

Today, I choose to look forward to the day it is overturned. In that vein, I offer a survey of Constitutional Amendments proposed to achieve that end. I will analyze them in future diaries. This is just a reference.

Article V of the Constitution provides for two methods of amendment. Congress can propose an amendment with 2/3 approval from each chamber. Joint Resolutions are the vehicles used for this process. Once approved by Congress and signed by the President, 3/4 of the state legislatures must ratify it.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 29:

Section 1

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on–

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2

A State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on–

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and

(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 3

Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 33:

Section 1

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

Section 2

Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.

Section 3

Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

Section 4

Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 35:

Section 1

Congress shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, a Federal office, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.

Section 2

A State shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, public office in the State, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.

Section 3

Nothing contained in this Amendment shall be construed to allow Congress or a State to make any law abridging the freedom of the press.

House Joint Resolutions and others after the fold…

Continue reading

January 21, 2012 Posted by | 112th Congress, Campaign Finance, Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Russell Pearce, Recalled Arizona Senate President, Could Get State Reimbursement For Campaign


Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, standing i...At least one Arizona state senator thinks that an obscure provision in the state constitution could entitle recalled state Senate President (R) to money from the state.

State Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise) said that his reading of Article 8, Part 1, Section 6 of the state constitution would allow Pearce to ask the state to reimburse the cost of his unsuccessful campaign to fight being recalled from office this week.

According to records on the Arizona secretary of state’s office website, Pearce raised $230,282 for the recall campaign and spent $159,587. Pearce, the architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, lost the recall election in his Maricopa County district to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis.

This raises an interestin­g question of constituti­onal law.

Article VIII

Section 6. The general election laws shall apply to recall elections in so far as applicable­. Laws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.

But looking further (figurativ­ely) – Article VIII again: Continue reading

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

112th Congress HJRes78 – A Citizens United Amendment


Ii I analyze any more Democrat Bills, I will have to come up with a new category for them.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.J. Res. 78 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. J. RES. 78

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.
_______________________________________________________________________

                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           September 12, 2011

  Ms. Edwards (for herself and Mr. Conyers) introduced the following 
 joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled   (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

                              ``Article--

    ``Section 1. Nothing in this Constitution shall prohibit Congress 
and the States from imposing content-neutral regulations and 
restrictions on the expenditure of funds for political activity by any 
corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity, 
including but not limited to contributions in support of, or in 
opposition to, a candidate for public office.

    ``Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed 
to abridge the freedom of the press.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

This is similar to my second proposed amendment in that it works to deny Constitutional protection to corporate political spending. This is probably the least disruptive method from a legal standpoint, but it retains the “regulating the hand that feeds” conflict of interest problem.

It does not include organized religion, which should not be engaging in political campaigns but do anyway.

To be fair, it does not include unions either. On the other hand, unions are associations of actual people, not “artificial persons”. They do not pose the same threat to our sovereignty as corporations. Perhaps someday an adjustment will need to be made, but that becomes a slippery slope problem.

Section 2:

The freedom of the press must be maintained, though the corporate media undermines the Fourth Estate through the corrupt use of ownership powers.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 134 (Monday, September 12, 2011)]
[House]
[Pages H6097-H6098]

From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

 By Ms. EDWARDS:
 H.J. Res. 78.

[[Page H6098]]

 Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
 to the following:
 Article V of the Constitution.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

This is a simple and straightforward answer to Citizens United. Without a mandate, I think that there would be many partisan battles over regulation. Especially when one party confuses corporations with living people.

I also think it needs an enacting clause. Other than that, I like it.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , , | 1 Comment

112th Congress SJRes29 – A Citizens United Amendment


I usually reserve my analysis for the republican clunkers. This is the second time I have analyzed a Democrat Bill.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S.J. Res. 29 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
S. J. RES. 29

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.
_______________________________________________________________________

                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            November 1, 2011

   Mr. Udall of New Mexico (for himself, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Harkin, Mr. 
Durbin, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Begich, and Mrs. 
  Shaheen) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read 
          twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States 
within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress:

                              ``Article--

    ``Section 1. Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and 
spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal 
elections, including through setting limits on--
            ``(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for 
        nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; 
        and
            ``(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in 
        support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

    ``Section 2. A State shall have power to regulate the raising and 
spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State 
elections, including through setting limits on--
            ``(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for 
        nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; 
        and
            ``(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in 
        support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

    ``Section 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce 
this article by appropriate legislation.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

I see three problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues. While issues are not directly on the ballot, they are still an integral part of a political campaign.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. The politicians setting the regulations, without direction or mandate, are the ones who benefit from the current state of campaign financing. This leaves plenty of room for continued influence peddling.

Section 2:

There are similar problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. It does not cover referenda.
  4. It does not cover local elections.
  5. It does not cover other Questions put to the voters, such as millage.
  6. It does not cover cross-state interference in local politics. The sovereignty of the individual states is being challenged by out-of-state money.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

None given (yet), but Article V of the Constitution covers it.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

I do not believe that this proposed amendment goes far enough to protect our democratic process from the influence of non-citizens or the excessive influence of the very rich.

November 6, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , | 1 Comment

Tom DeLay: Liberals Sentenced Me To Jail (VIDEO)


Restricted money goes out, unrestrict­ed money comes back – the very definition of “money laundering­”. DeLay either is lying or he does not believe that the law applies to him. I am quite certain that DeLay and his lawyer are familiar with the concept of money laundering­.

DeLay makes pejorative statements about the court and the jury foreman, then claims he is not criticizin­g the jury. Might as well ask how hard it was for the prosecutor to find a court that was not biased in favor of republican­s. Or maybe the grand jury “just sworn in” was the only one not yet corrupted? (Is there a standing Grand Jury, or are they all “just sworn in”?)

He was prosecuted because he was so successful in redistrict­ing Texas? The republican­s were so successful that the courts found they had illegally disenfranc­hised an entire segment of the voters.

Political prosecutio­n? Political crime!

They claim that he was prosecuted because the Democrats turned people against politician­s and Washington­? Spin, Spin, Spin. Project, Project, Project. Lie, Lie, Lie.

There was no corporate money, except that Citizens United made it legal, except that the ruling was not in effect at the time of the crime, except … Their arguments are all over the map because they have no moral compass.

They will delay and appeal until political change gives him a free pass. It’s what Microsoft did ten years ago.

Justice delayed is justice denied, but the defendant is not always the one who gets screwed by delay.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Do you think he will ever spend a day in jail?

No. Simply because the Court of Criminal Appeals is an elected court, it’s all Republican, it’s highly political. It’s known as a prosecutors’ court, but in this case I would bet that they’re going to rule for the defendant. The Third Court of Appeals, where the appeal will start, is also a Republican court.

Lou Dubose, via Salon.com

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Campaign Strategy, Crime, Elections | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Brown Finds Himself On Tea Party’s 2012 Hit List


There is a lot of appeal in a throw-the-bums-out approach, but (like everything else involved) it has it’s down side.

For one thing, some positions of leadership in Congress require experience or expertise. It takes time to learn the intricacies of laws and the consequences of loopholes, or even what a loophole looks like and how it can be exploited, and by whom. If we lose all our experience without replacing it, we make ourselves vulnerable to foreign and corporate interests.

It also takes time to get a boatload of strangers to start rowing in the same direction. A coalition of strangers is not much of a basis for consensus. The congressional whips need considerable influence over their party membership, the kind that only comes from time.

Ultimately, though, it fails to address the root problem. Changing the faces in Congress will mean next to nothing as long as corporate money flows in Washington.

In the mean time, equal protection, religious freedom, and our leadership role in the world are all at serious risk. Not to mention the pending economic crap-shoot.
More on Tea Party Movement
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Candidates, Direction, Elections | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Chamber of Commerce a Subversive Organization?


The more that Corporate America can reach across the border for cheap labor, unprotected resources, and tax shelters, the more they insulate themselves from the American people and the American economy.

The more their interests come in conflict with the interests of the American people, and therefore conflict with government for the people.

It is disturbing to see how many support what are effectively foreign interests instead of the interests of the country. Some are already owned by Corporate America. Others aspire to join them – but with only 4% upward economic mobility, it is generally a vain hope.

Government is the tool we the people have to oppose the otherwise overwhelming power of big business. It is no surprise that they go to any lengths to take that tool away from us.

The working class are the ones who truly need to take back the country.
Take it back from the oligarchs and corporatists.
Take it back from the theocrats and propagandists.
Take it back from fear, prejudice, and ignorance.

Take it back to government of the people, by the people and for the people, because we the people are the ones who ultimately bear the burdens of failure – every failure, regardless of source.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Capitalism, Economics, Elections, Government, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citizens United


Citizens United.

The United States Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Building

Conservative activist judges defied precedent and judicial restraint to give unrestrained political speech to corporate entities and special interests without regard for the chilling effect on free speech for natural citizens. Roberts and Alito violated some of the very principles they claimed (during their confirmation hearings) made a good judge.

There is much I would like to say on the subject, but Justice John Paul Stevens has already said what needs to be said far more thoroughly and in greater detail than I could ever hope to. With difficulty, I condensed part of his dissent into what I devoted a whole page to.

Citizens United

Just for a taste, he  said things like:

The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation. While that glittering generality has rhetorical appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law.

and

The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution (SCOTUS).

and

Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.

and

The unnecessary resort to a facial inquiry “run[s] contrary to the fundamental principle of judicial restraint that courts should neither anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it nor formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.”. Scanting that principle “threaten[s] to short circuit the democratic process by preventing laws embodying the will of the people from being implemented in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”

It is easy to take a few sound bites out of context, stripping it of it’s full and intended meaning. In my excerpt, I strove to remain faithful to the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens,  and the length shows it. The result only covers a portion of the dissent, and I recommend reading the whole dissent. If you do not  have the time, at least start with my excerpts on my “Citizens United” page.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Government, SCOTUS Rulings, Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann Raises Record $5.4 Million In Three Months


Her support has nothing to do with her qualifications as a Representative and everything to do with her notoriety. She is a standard-bearer and symbol for the far right, a leader of their extremism and embodiment of their ineffectiveness and irresponsibility in matters of true governance.

She believes that we should be a theocracy, and her success is a testament to the incompatibility of theocracy and democracy. Christian fundamentalist money loves her.

She wants to dismantle government of the people in favor of corporate domination, no matter how irresponsible and destructive that is. Corporate money loves her.

Her district has the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the state. Little of her money comes from actual constituents.

She has formed a Tea Party Caucus in the House, and effectively dared republicans to join or else. She is accumulating power without any real accomplishment behind it. She says and does anything for political gain. She is the embodiment of what is wrong with American politics.

Those who vote for her fall into three categories:
1) Those who share her extreme ideology. They will vote for her no matter what.
2) Hardline republicans who vote the party no matter the candidate. Long-time republicans are starting to defect in her case as she becomes too extreme for them to accept anymore.
3) Those who don’t pay attention to politics and just vote the party or the name they remember or the ad they believe. A few facts make all the difference for them.

Michele Bachmann is antithetical to our survival as a country. She is pro-religious persecution and pro-corporatocracy, and anti-everything else.

  • Anti-worker
  • Anti-consumer
  • Anti-environment
  • Anti-freedom of religion other than hers.
  • Anti-civil rights that offend her personal prejudices.

Her economic policies have never worked, even for her, yet she clings to them like stone tablets.

She is exactly the sort of politician that we need to get out of government.

More on 2010 Elections
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Candidates, Capitalism, Constitution, Direction, Elections, Government, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meg Whitman’s Campaign Rocked With More Domestic Drama As Ex-Nanny Backs Up Housekeeper


When our forefathers gained independence from England and formed the United States, they eschewed both the forms and trappings of aristocracy. We were to be a country of the people, not kings or lords or bishops. Such is the extent to which we rejected aristocracy that the Constitution explicitly forbids the government from granting titles of nobility, and designates the chief executive as “President” – deliberately rejecting the title of “Lord” or “King” as was common at the time.

Meg Whitman represents a domestic insurgence of that aristocracy so antithetical to our founding principles. The names of the titles may have changed, but aristocracy has come to America nonetheless. They are now called CEOs and COOs and Directors instead of Princes and Lords, but their grip on the levers of power is the same.

Follow the money.

Whitman is putting more of her personal wealth into this race than the vast majority of Americans will ever see in their lifetimes. Are we to believe that she is so philanthropic that she would spend such sums for the chance to help the poor and the middle class? Is there substantial evidence of this in her past actions? How much evidence to the contrary exists? How much would this contradict the principles of her party?

It is easier to believe that she seeks to subdue California, and cause it to submit to the will of the aristocracy.

This is in no respect why we had a Tea Party so long ago.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Candidates, Elections | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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