When the Supreme Court ruled in January 2010 that Corporations had the same rights as people, many groups organized to fight back. One of those groups, Move To Amend, has been working at local levels to change state election laws (dealing with financing state campaigns, i.e. Governor, Assembly and Senate, and local elections) and and the federal level to amend the United States Constitution to “firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” Sixteen States have passed resolutions to support this movement to amend the constitution. Twenty-two states, including New York, have resolutions waiting to be voted on.
Move To Amend is collecting signatures on petitions to show support for their cause. Their goal is to have at least 500,000 signatures by the end of 2014. Currently they have over 340,000.
There is one Move To Amend affiliated group in the NY 23rd congressional district, which is in Ithaca. There are also ones in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.
Besides Move To Amend, People Power Initiatives’s Stamp Stampede is working creatively to amend the Constitution. Ben Cohen, Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, is the President of the People Power Initiatives. They are also concerned with Money in Politics, and has developed a unique program that really translates into Money is Free Speech, almost literally. They have developed political phases that can be stamped directly on US Currency. (Move To Amend also has similar stamps.)
“A Corporation Is Not a Person” “Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians”
“The System Isn’t Broken, It’s Fixed” Price= $12 each or all three for $30
“Not to Be Used for Bribing Politicians” “Stamp Money Out of Politics”
“The System Isn’t Broken, It’s Fixed” “Corporations are Not People”
“Not To Be Used for Buying Elections” Prices vary from $7.50-$10.50
StampStampede is quick to point out that stamping these phrases on money is LEGAL—it is not defacing the bill; the bills are still useable.
While both organizations are concerned with the Citizens United, and now the McCutcheon v FEC Supreme Court decisions, StampStampede focuses mainly on stamping the messages on dollar bills, and organizing sampling parties. MTA has a broader view of amending the constitution, and has videos, readings, webinars and other ways to organize their campaign. The sites compliments each other well.
THIS IS WHERE WE CAN STEP IN:
We can download petitions from Move To Amend which holds nine signatures, and get friends, family members, and other like thinking citizens to sign them. According to the coordinator of Ithaca’s Move To Amend, they will deliver petitions from our district to our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed’s office. If we fill out 150 petitions, that will be 450 signatures from the NY 23rd! If you down load petitions, please let Move To Amend/Ithaca or the New NY 23rd know (by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Facebook) We will let you know how to hand in the petitions.
We can buy Stamps and start stamping our own bills. We will be highlighting the problem by purchasing everyday items with our “adorned” stamped currency.
We can combine petition signing and stamping. We can set a card table up and ask people to sign the petition, and let them stamp their money for free. This can happen at events that might draw a lot of people (Art/Music Festivals, or Parades, for example). We can set a up a table on public property (Some municipalities may have rules about not blocking walking traffic on the side walk, or obstructing the view of drivers.) A friendly store owner who believes in the cause might be helpful in finding a location to set up in front of, or, inside their store.
The Move To Amend website has other ideas and a lot of support material.