By a five-to-one margin, Americans say that U.S. corporations should not be allowed to spend limitless money to influence the outcome of an election.
That is the result of new poll from SURVEY USA of 1,200 Americans conducted for the group, People For The American Way.
The poll was taken in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month.
The Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that corporations have the Free Speech rights of a person and therefore the freedom to support financially whatever candidate they want in elections.
In doing so, the court struck down a long-standing ban on corporate spending on candidate elections. Since 1907, the nation’s campaign finance laws have prevented corporate spending on candidates up for election.
Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision for the court saying that the marketplace of ideas includes corporations, which represent a significant segment of society. He suggested that government interference might amount to censorship since the First Amendment guarantees free speech.
The court overturned rulings that limit the spending by a company, such as ExxonMobil, on direct mail advertising ads, attack ads and robo calls.
Congressman Bruce Braley from Iowa, who spoke passionately on the House floor about health care reform and was booed when he talked about “standing up for patients,” told IB News, “The Citizens United ruling provides big businesses and corporations with an even larger platform to promote their interests. Because the ruling allows groups like the Chamber of Commerce to engage in direct electioneering, individuals and families will have a much more difficult time making their voices heard on critical issues like patient safety.”
Almost immediately, petitions began circulating to remind those who might think otherwise, that persons are the reason the Constitution was crafted, not corporations.
The poll finds that 78% believe corporations should face limitations on how much they can spend to influence elections. Seventy percent believe they already have too much influence over elections. The majority of respondents say the Congress has done little to limit corporate influence over elections. Both Republicans and conservatives joined in the opinion.
The majority, 75 %, believe that a publicly traded company should seek approval from shareholders before it spends money in an election and 85% support a ban on foreign corporations contributing to a candidate.
Michael Keegan, president of PFAW says in the Huffington Post, “This isn't just a liberal or Democratic position - it's the American position, shared by majorities across the spectrum. Republican leaders who have rejoiced at the prospect of more corporate money in elections should take heed.”
Four in 10 Americans polled do not have an opinion on an amendment to the US Constitution, but of those with an opinion, twice as many favor a hypothetical amendment that would limit what corporations can spend over those who oppose the amendment.
Campaigns To Restore People To The Constitution
People For The American Way has launched a campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to nullify the Court’s decision by giving Congress the authority to limit corporate influence.
In announcing the campaign last month, Keegan said, “Corporations can dump unlimited money into influencing elections, overpowering the voice of the voter and undermining our democracy. Even the threat of retribution from a dissatisfied business interest will cow lawmakers and influence their decisions.
We must amend the Constitution to ensure that Congress has the authority to rescue our democracy from unlimited corporate influence.”
People For The American Way was founded by in 1981 by Norman Lear, the television producer, and is dedicated to protecting American rights such as the freedom of speech, of religion, the right to seek justice in a courtroom, the right to cast a vote, and the right to equality.
The Center for Media & Democracy and Public Citizen, both advocacy groups, are circulating a petition, Americans Before Corporations, to pass a constitutional amendment to restore humans to the center of the political process, not corporations.
Public Citizen has prepared a video on what is it planning in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Their Web site with the petition is Don’t Get Rolled. #