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Local view: Effort to amend Constitution aims to restore democracy

We with Duluth Area Move to Amend are in total support of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s proposal to restore democracy to the people of America (“Nolan, groups push for election reform,” June 9). Our Duluth Area Move to Amend is a grass-roots, multipartisan organization that does not endorse candidates for political office but highlights the efforts of any political leader who mirrors our efforts to move to amend our United States Constitution. Nolan’s “Restore Democracy” effort precisely addresses our primary concerns and has amending our Constitution as its No. 1 proposal.

When Nolan re-entered Congress in 2013, he sought out Move to Amend to help him help America. Move-to-amend legislation was the first he introduced.

Nolan is doing his best to do what he can, at the federal level, to make sure Citizens United is thrown on the trash heap of Supreme Court decisions — where it belongs so multinational corporate money is no longer considered the same as our free speech.

Nolan is doing his best, in Washington, to keep the very, very few, through their use of PAC money, Super-PAC money and dark money, from electing their leaders as our leaders and from making their profits-over-people legislation our laws.

Whatever your primary concern — the environment we’re leaving our children and grandchildren, the inequity of economic recovery, ever-increasing military spending with neverending war becoming commonplace, campaign finance reform or something else — it largely is related to issues surrounding Citizens United and the need to move to amend our Constitution.

No one is talking about taking any individual rights away; the effort to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United is an effort to restore democracy, just as our Founding Fathers envisioned: with the power in the hands of the people. The government should protect the rights of people and regulate multinational corporations instead of regulating people while protecting multinational corporations.

Individuals already have their rights outlined in our Constitution. Corporate rights, “corporate personhood rights,” are on top of individual rights.

People would still, under any circumstance, have their rights of free speech, including their right to use their money as they wish.

There are two conceptions of corporate personhood. The first simply bestows upon corporations the ability to engage in many legal actions like entering into contracts, suing, being sued, etc. This is widely accepted, and we do not object to this.

However, corporate personhood also commonly refers to the Supreme Court-created precedent of corporations enjoying constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings. We believe this form of “corporate personhood” corrupts our Constitution and must be corrected by amending the Constitution.

Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution ever mentioned corporations. But, thanks to decades of rulings by justices who molded the law to favor elite interests, corporations today are granted so-called “rights” that empower them to deny citizens the right to full self-governance.

Multinational corporations as they exist today were illegal when our Declaration of Independence and our United States Constitution were written. They were illegal for more than 100 years after the American Revolution. It is no coincidence our Founding Fathers left out the words “multinational corporations,” “corporations,” and “corporation.” Those words do not exist in either of our cherished documents.

It is only through the use of the best lawyers money can buy and the continuous challenges and assaults on the individual, inalienable rights of the people that Citizens United came to be. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that “we the people,” as it was written in our Constitution, was intended for real people, people with blood in their veins, people who live, love, breathe and die.

That is not a hard concept to grasp. Our Founding Fathers understood this concept. Amending our United States Constitution is at the core of Nolan’s “Restore Democracy” legislation, and we support his work and his efforts to restore democracy, returning it to the hands of the people.

Virgil Boehland of Esko is head of the Duluth chapter of Move to Amend, a group trying to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment on campaign contributions.

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