Oppose Citizens United—Support Free Speech for People 2011 Action of Immediate Witness

BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists (UUs) believe in the “inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and in the “use of the democratic process” in society at large;

WHEREAS the U.S. Supreme Court decision of January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. FEC enshrined corporations as persons and equated money with speech;

WHEREAS this unprecedented ruling has already resulted in unlimited spending by corporations in state and federal elections in 2010, flooding the political marketplace with corporate money, drowning out the voices of individuals, and jeopardizing the very democracy that we hold dear;

WHEREAS anonymous, unlimited campaign spending and its associated domination of the media conflict with the fourth and fifth UU Principles;

WHEREAS Congress cannot pass a law to overturn the Supreme Court decision, once the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to say that corporations have the First Amendment rights of people;

WHEREAS continuing this precedent might result in ever increasing gaps between rich and poor, concentrated efforts by the wealthy to control elections by vast infusions of money into campaign front groups, and increasing corruption of the democratic process; and

WHEREAS we are entering the first presidential election cycle in which this ruling takes effect, so the urgency is for people to speak up NOW in opposition to this ruling and in support of a Constitutional amendment to overturn it, so that this is part of the presidential debates in 2012;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly urges member congregations to sign the resolution for The People’s Rights Amendment proposed at Free Speech For People and encourage their congressional representatives to sponsor such a resolution in opposition to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United (Find your U.S. Representatives.); and

BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly urges member congregations to support pending and future federal and state legislation requiring maximum disclosure by corporations of all political contributions they make, whether directly to candidates or indirectly to advocacy groups; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages member congregations to support similar motions of other organizations such as Move to Amend, People for the American Way, and Public Citizen; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages member congregations to press their state senators and representatives to file similar state and local resolutions opposing the equation of corporate political speech with the free speech of individual persons and to use as models the 2011 state resolutions of Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State, and the local resolutions of the towns of Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Great Barrington, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Williamstown, Massachusetts& (See Free Speech For People, 2011 resolutions); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages the existing 11 UU legislative ministries in the UU State Advocacy Network (UUSAN) to consider adopting “Oppose Citizens United—Support Free Speech for People” as a core issue among their statewide efforts, and encourages member congregations in states that do not YET have a legislative ministry to start one by contacting Interim Administrator Nancy Banks, at nancy.banks1@verizon.net or 617-835-5426.

Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact in 2011-2012 to restore the effective voice of “we the people” and help to heal our democracy.