As The Anti-Citizens United Movement Grows, The Plutocrats Will Surely Attack
Continued from previous page
Perhaps we need state constitutional amendments to clarify that land use policies do not amount to unauthorized “takings” of property, whether that property is held by an individual or a corporation. Alternatively, maybe we just need states to be more responsible about granting, and revoking corporate charters when they do not fulfill the public interest, or placing limits on the size and location of stores that utilize incorporation. In any case, we ought not pretend that ending corporate constitutional rights is a silver bullet. Rather, it is one of many necessary steps.
Not Losing the Forest for the Trees
As we head into the third phase of passing an amendment, where our opposition moves from ridicule to fighting, we should not only work to clarify our aims, but also look to our history for guidance as to how detailed an amendment must be. The 16 th Amendment to authorize a federal income tax was similarly designed to overrule a controversial 5-4 ruling of the Supreme Court that held income taxes to be unconstitutional. Reformers wanted the tax as a progressive measure, and early versions of the 15 th Amendment specifically authorized a progressive tax code that allowed for higher rates on the rich. The final language that passed Congress and was ratified by the states stripped the stipulation for a progressive tax, and yet the courts eventually upheld progressive income taxes under the 15 th amendment. The people’s will that was demonstrated by the movement to enact the amendment carried more weight than the actual text of the amendment itself.
So while we need to take seriously the task of drafting actual amendment language, we ought not take the purity of the words so seriously as to frighten our allies and divide ourselves. The strength of our movement is more important that the strength of whatever words get enacted. Fifty years from now, a 28 th amendment dealing with the underlying issues of Citizens Untied will mean what the people in our country think it means, and what lengths they are willing to go to impeach or vote out officials who defy it.
Our task at hand, then, is to build a strong, clear, and durable movement as we can. Our opponents will play a valuable role by pushing back with arguments, some with merit and some without. As we move from ridicule to the fight, we should remember to thank our opponents for taking us seriously, and to return the favor by responding to their critiques with thoughtful answers that go beyond the slogans that have brought us this far along.