September 17. 2012 10:53PM

We The People event pushes to revise Supreme Court ruling

Union Leader Correspondent

Joe Bagshaw of Center Conway is working with WeThe People MWV in a grassroots movement to amend the Constitution to clarify the rights of corporations so that their contributions to poltical campaigns can be limited. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)
CONWAY — The We The People Mt. Washington Valley’s event for the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution didn’t draw a lot of visitors at the Conway Public Library on Monday, but those who did stop by agreed with the group’s mission to stop the influence of money in government.

With informational posters set up in the Ham Room, Joe Bagshaw of Conway and Ken McKenzie of Eaton explained that the Mount Washington Valley group is hoping to get a special article on town warrants in 2013 that would enable campaign finance reform.

The resolution would call for the townspeople to instruct their congressional representative to propose and ratify a constitutional amendment that would deny corporations personhood, so that they would not be entitled to the rights of people. Such an amendment would allow Congress to enact laws limiting campaign spending.

The effort is in response to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows corporations and unions to make unlimited contributions to groups that advocate for a candidate independently from the candidate’s campaign. A later Supreme Court ruling extended that right to nonprofits.

Bagshaw said that a similar article had passed recently in two nearby towns in Maine, and that Vermont voters have also passed warrant articles at their town meetings.

“Almost every time a citizen group gets together and supports it, it goes right through, because this is what people want,” Bagshaw said.

“There are efforts like this all over,” McKenzie said, people, he said, “just trying to take away (corporations’) undue influence.”

Without a constitutional amendment, McKenzie said, the court would have to rewrite previous decisions before Congress could enact laws restricting the flow of this money.