Move To Amend: Ithaca teach-in planned to educate about corporate constitutional rights

February 28, 2013
Rob Montana

How are corporations guaranteed rights under the Constitution?

To find out, the Ithaca chapter of the Move to Amend movement is hosting a teach-in from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Unitarian Society, located at 306 N. Aurora St.

“We are not narrowly focusing on Citizens United,” said Ithaca Move To Amend chapter president Victor Tiffany, referencing the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case that prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. In its decision, the court said those restrictions violated the First Amendment right to free speech, and that corporations and labor unions should be allowed to spend their own money to support or oppose political candidates through independent communications such as television advertisements. “We want to get Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution, that states corporations are not subject to the rights of the Constitution. They should be subject to privileges, but not rights.”

Tiffany said this is an important issue because large corporations use those rights to gain advantages over smaller ones.

“On a pure propaganda level, opinion shifts to the corporations away from public interests,” he said.

The teach-in is taking place, Tiffany said, to get more information to members of the public and, hopefully, gain support from those not currently part of the national movement.

“We’re hoping people will plug in on one of two levels,” Tiffany said. “The first would be people joining the movement and becoming active in it.

“On a lower level, we need people willing to contact legislators, state level and local level,” he added.

Tiffany acknowledged the challenge the movement is facing and said he’s hopeful it will continue to gain enough momentum to create support from Congress.

“To be realistic, we don’t expect anything to come out of Congress this session,” he said, though he added he believes they will be able to get support from U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-23rd, who represents Tompkins County.

In addition to presentations planned for the teach-in, a video of Move to Amend co-founder David Cobb giving a speech about abolishing corporate personhood will be shown.

“Rights are for people, not corporations, not non-profits, not unions,” Tiffany said. “They should have privileges, not rights.”

For more information about the Ithaca chapter of Move to Amend, visit www.ithacamovetoamend.org or www.facebook.com/pages/Move-to-Amend-Ithaca/258739367498460.

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