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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

HCR 282 HD1

Relating to
Corporate Entities

Requesting Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to permit Congress and the states to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech.

Senate Committee on Transportation, International and Intergovernmental (TIA) - chair: English, vice chair: Gabbard

Friday, April 23, 2010, 10:30 p.m.. Conference Room 225

Testifier: JoAnn Maruoka, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view HCR282 HD1

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports this resolution to Congress.

On January 21, 2010 in a 5-4 decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions are persons and thereby entitled to Constitutional protections. The ruling threw out vital protections against corporate and union spending in elections, overturning a 1990 decision that upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates, and a 2003 decision that upheld the part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, aka McCain-Feingold, that restricted campaign spending by corporations and unions.

The term “person” should match reality. Corporations and unions are legal entities; money is not speech, and human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. In a forceful dissent, Justice Stevens said, “The difference between selling a vote and selling access is a matter of degree, not kind. And selling access is not qualitatively different from giving special preference to those who spent money on one’s behalf.” He said that the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings, and pointed out that even before the decision corporations could act through their political action committees or outside the specified time windows.

A February 2010 Washington Post - ABC News poll found that Americans of across the political spectrum overwhelmingly [80% of respondents] oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending to allow unfettered corporate political spending.

The national president of the League of Women Voters of the United States stated in congressional testimony and letters to U.S. Senators and Representatives, “The Court’s majority decision in Citizens United v. FEC was fundamentally wrong and a tragic mistake. But this is the decision of the Court. Congress needs to respond now, recognizing its own authority and responsibility to uphold the Constitution.”

While special interest money has always been a concern in elections, corporations may now intervene in elections, taking power away from voters. That is why it is important for Hawaii to speak up. HCR 282 lets Hawaii’s voice be heard in Congress on this urgent and critical issue, and we ask you to pass it.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify.


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