Corporate money is not "speech"

The Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court crippled American democracy.  By equating money to speech our Supreme Court shifted the power of our great political system away from the people it was created to serve.  The ability to give political contributions became greater than the ability to stay informed and vote.  Our guest today, John Bonifaz, director and co-founder of Free Speech For People, believes that this decision is wrong and has to be undone.

Our rights to freedom of religion, press, assembly, and speech are some of our most cherished, yet they are being encroached on in a dangerous way.  The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for money to truly be the guiding force in our politics once and for all.

He joined The Dylan Ratigan Showthis week to discuss his amendment, and the problem of money in politics.

“It allows corporations to have these so-called ‘speech rights’ that we the people have.  But also if we take on the money equaling speech doctrine, we go at the other core part of the problem, which makes clear that money is an amplifier to speech,” Bonifaz explained.

Logically, then, the people with the most money can make the largest, or loudest, impact on our elected officials.  When this ventures into the territory of policy decisions, regulations, and laws that impact our nation as a whole, but can be bent and altered only by those with money, then our American democracy is broken.

Mr. Bonifaz penned a potential amendment to the Constitution that would rebuff Citizens United and eliminate corporate money from our political system (you can read the entire amendment here).

There is precedent for Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United to be overturned in the interest of the people.  When the Supreme Court issues a decision that runs counter to the prevailing mood and opinion of the people, there is recourse.

“We’ve done this before, in our nation’s history; twenty-seven times before, seven times to overturn egregious Supreme Court rulings.  We can do it again; we must do it again if we’re going to preserve and defend our democracy.”

John Bonifaz is the director and co-founder of Free Speech for People, an organization dedicated to overturning the Citizens United decision, and celebrated Constitutional scholar.