MA Congressman Aims to Redefine Corporate Rights

Three years after the historic Supreme Court decision known as “Citizens United” transformed the first amendment, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern is introducing two constitutional ammendments he hopes will limit the influence of money in politics.

The power of campaign donations to sway lawmakers’ votes over controversial issues is not new. But McGovern, who represents parts of western and central Massachusetts, says Citizens United introduced anonymous donations to corporate “Super-Pacs,” which are believed to have spent hundreds of millions on both the presidential and congressional campaigns of 2012.

“And it’s certainly not contributing to a better dialogue in our political campaign season. So I think this is a moment for us to do something that I think will have a positive impact on our democracy and on our political system.”

McGovern says many lawmakers are so busy fundraising they’re less able to keep up with constituent concerns. So he’s sponsoring two constitutional amendments aimed at bypassing the U.S. Supreme Court. The first would authorize congress to regulate how much money is spent on campaigns. The second goes a step further and reverses Citizens United by limiting the rights of corporations.

“They do not breath, they don’t have kids, they don’t go and fight and die in wars. Our constitution is very very clear. ‘It’s we the people,’ not we the corporations. We outta empower people. Give people back their rights, give people back their influence.”

Defenders of Citizens United who oppose McGovern’s efforts say the  decision ensures political freedom and keeps elections competitive. McGovern says when he tried to introduce similar legislation last year, no one in the house wanted to talk about it and it was dismissed. He says he anticipates seeing much of the same opposition from the 113th congress.