Milwaukee Supervisors Override Abele To Hear the Voice the People

May 13, 2014
Mary Laan, Move to Amend of Southeastern Wisconsin

The Milwaukee County Board decided to let the voters have a voice on the subject of money in politics by overriding County Executive Abele's veto.

In November 2014, the County will be voting on whether there should be a U.S. Constitutional Amendment stating that money is not speech and a corporation is not entitled to Constitutional Rights. A yes vote will mean you want to reverse the narrow 5:4 Citizens United Decision by the Supreme Court, not change the Constitution, as some want us to believe.

The Supreme Court Decision is destroying our democracy by declaring corporations are people and money is speech. With this decision the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to allow big money and large corporations to drown out the voice of citizens. They can now use their money and influence to buy elections, own our elected officials, write laws to "regulate" their own industries and twist government policies and decisions in ways that benefit the rich at the expense of the rest of us.

The four Supervisors voting against were Alexander, Borkowski, Schmidt, and Taylor. Supervisor Lipscomb changed his original no vote because he listened to his constituents who called him in favor of the referendum and received no calls to the contrary. He strongly disagreed with Abele's veto message of "the appropriate way for people to engage is with their money and through the courts". Supervisor Jursik spoke in favor, also noting many phone calls to her office, adding, " If we agree that corporations, not national, but multinational, corporations, can spend money to control decision-making, not for the common good, but for the corporate good, will citizens be willing to pledge allegiance to THAT flag?" She displayed a Wolfgang Puck poster from the '70's with an American flag with corporate logos in front.

Supervisor Broderick questioned the $40,000.00 price tag on the referendum and the cost being "too high to hear the voice of the people". "The Executive's veto seems to be based on the cost of hearing the people's voice. It seems that is the cost of ink, since the ballots will already be printed. $40,000.00? Really? Could it be that our private corporate government, headed by Sheldon Lubar, doesn't approve of this question even being asked and has asked their fellow oligarchs to intercede in their behalf?"

Supervisor Haas answered Supervisor Schmidt's "no" vote reasoning by informing him that the Supreme Court's Montana Decision, after their Citizens United Decision, made it clear they would not change their minds and even expanded the range of Citizens United.

Since then there has been further evidence of the Supreme Court's not changing their  minds: the McCutcheon Decision, further expanding the freedom of money in politics by adding this leniency toward individual donors.

Some people are afraid that the proposed Amendment would take away First Amendment Rights, but what it really restores is the regulation of money in politics again. The 2010 Citizens United Decision reversed the regulatory abilities of Congress and allowed money to be spent in elections as freely as speech could be spoken. This was because, they said, money was equivalent to speech. If money is equivalent to speech, it cannot be regulated. After an Amendment like the one proposed in the County Referendum, however, all corporate CEO's, for instance, will continue to have their First Amendment Rights and be able to speak freely, even when speaking in the name of the corporation. That is because they are, and always will be, people.

What such an Amendment would do is disconnect corporate money from being as freely spent as free speech is spoken and real human beings will be the only entities with constitutional rights.

We the People could then begin to influence our legislators again, rather than big money and powerful corporate interests actually writing the laws. We could write campaign reform laws that would not be invalidated by the Supreme Court. That would happen because such a people's Constitutional Amendment would override the Supreme Court's decision that the freedom to speak and the freedom to spend money are equivalent, and that the freedom to spend money on advertising is a First Amendment right.

"Spending money is not a First Amendment right, because the word money is not even in the First Amendment. The Supreme Court played with the Constitution's writers' words when they formed their decision. I think the writers of the Constitution knew exactly what they were saying when they said freedom of speech and did not say freedom to spend money. As for corporations having our God-given, inalienable rights, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were not written for corporations. It was written for We the People. The word corporation is not anywhere in the Constitution. So it stands to reason it was not written for them. It's the Supreme Court that has changed the original intent of that document and we want to correct that.

The Citizens United Decision is wreaking havoc with our democracy now and that has to change. Progressives and conservatives, even the Tea Party people, agree on this. I know; they signed my petition in West Allis, where the same referendum passed in their Republican Presidential Primary by 70% in 2012", said Mary Laan of Move to Amend Milwaukee.

CONTACTS:
Mary Laan,
Chair, Co-Founder,
Move to Amend of Southeastern Wisconsin
414 491 3871 (cell)
414 231 3965 (home)

James Ito,
Secretary,
MTA of Southeastern Wisconsin
414-491-0705 (cell)

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For more information on Constitutional Amendments and the Movement, go to:

https://movetoamend.org (national site)

http://wimta.org (Wisconsin Move to Amend site)

http://milwaukeecounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=543 (video of county Board speeches and vote)

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