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Letters: Money is not free speech and a corporation is not a person

Akron Beacon Journal | Jan 28, 2024

Jan. 21 marked the 14th anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The ruling increased the amount of money spent in political elections from the very rich and corporate entities, drowning out the voices of people to be heard by elected representatives who didn’t politically contribute. 

Many, if not most, people believe Citizens United was the first time the court ruled that “money equals free speech,” as well as the constitutional right of corporate entities to donate politically. It wasn’t. 

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‘We the People’ Amendment needed

Miami Valley Today, January 20, 2024

To the editor:

January 21 is a good day to reflect on the state of our democracy. Why? Because it’s the 14th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The court’s 5-4 decision upheld two misguided notions: The first, that a corporation has inherent, inalienable constitutional rights same as you and me. The second, that money spent on political campaigns is protected speech.

These interpretations of the U.S. Constitution thwart democracy in two ways: First, something created on paper through a state charter often has more power than flesh-and-blood people (think companies given the right to dump fracking wastewater in communities where residents object). Second, those with the most money have greater access to lawmakers and influence over laws and policies that affect our wallets, let alone our health (think Akron-based FirstEnergy Corporation, the company behind the largest public corruption scandal in Ohio history).

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The 2024 election money train is on the move.

Dayton Daily News | Jan 20, 2024

The 2024 election money train is on the move. I receive emails every day asking for money from candidates near and far. How about you? Of course the dollars that you and I send in are only a small portion of the money being contributed to candidates. Of greater concern is the money given by corporations, trade associations, political action committees, unions—all attempting to have influence over their chosen candidates.

Jan. 21 is the 14th anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the Supreme Court ruling that is widely recognized as ushering in all this money. After Citizens United, we saw the creation of SuperPACs and “dark money”— donations that are made in secret— making it almost impossible to follow the money.

History tells us that this problem started long before Citizens United. In 1886, the Supreme Court gave standing to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company under the 14th Amendment. Later decisions added the 4th Amendment, the Commerce Clause, the 1st Amendment and more. Political spending became a form of free speech in 1976, thus protecting corporate entities from spending restrictions.

Move to Amend is an organization dedicated to ending corporate constitutional rights and money as a protected form of speech. We have legislation in the U.S. House to amend the Constitution, the We the People Amendment, HJR 54. Ask your representative to co-sponsor. Learn more about our efforts and sign our petition at movetoamend.org/motion.

- Mary Sue Gmeiner, Dayton


Overturning Citizens United won’t be enough to restore citizens’ political voice

Cleveland.com | Published: Jan. 10, 2024

The Jan. 21, 2010, “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision has reduced democracy in our country. Federal election spending was $14.4 billion in 2020, up from nearly $5.3 billion in 2008, according to Open Secrets. The flood of spending by the super-rich and corporate entities has drowned the political voices of most people.

It’s a mistake, however, to believe that the following originated with Citizens United:

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A proposal to restore power to the American people

Chronicle Telegram: Elyria and Lorain County Ohio

January 13, 2024

The anniversary of the Citizens United vs. FEC decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is coming up on Jan. 21. It will be 14 years since that damaging ruling was made.

Citizens United is simply the latest in a long line of anti-democratic Supreme Court decisions that have empowered the super rich and corporations to trump the ability of we the people to make decisions protecting our lives, communities and the natural world. What’s needed is not simply a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen United, but rather the proposed We the People Amendment that  would abolish the bizarre constitutional doctrines of “money equals speech” and “a corporation is a person.”

We need to put the people back in we the people. The We the People Amendment (House Joint Resolution 54) has been introduced in Congress. Please encourage U.S Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, or your representative to co-sponsor it.

Kathleen Hazelton


Kent Democracy Day Public Hearing

City of Kent
Wednesday October 4, 2023
City Council Committee Meetings
320 S. Depeyster Street, Kent, OH 44240



Democracy Day Public Hearing
At 6:00 p.m. Mayor Fiala called the Democracy Day Public Hearing to order.

Present: Mr. Jack Amrhein, Mr. Michael DeLeone, Mr. John Kuhar, Ms. Gwen
Rosenberg, Ms. Heidi Shaffer Bish (6:16 p.m.),Mr. Roger Sidoti, Mr. Robin

Also Present: Mr. Jerry T. Fiala, Mayor, and President of Council; Mr. Dave Ruller, City
Manager; Ms. Hope Jones, Law Director; Ms. Bridget Susel, Community
Development Director; Ms. Melanie Baker, Service Director; Mr. Jim Bowling,
City Engineer; Ms. Joan Seidel, Health Commissioner; Ms. Rhonda Hall,
Budget and Finance Director; Mr. Nick Shearer, Chief of Police; Ms. Suzanne
Stemnock, Director of Human Resources; Ms. Amy Wilkens, Clerk of

Absent: Mr. Garret Ferrara, Ms. Tracy Wallach

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[OHIO] Shaker Heights Democracy Day Public Hearing Testimony

September 11, 2023

With passage of Issue 95 in Shaker Heights in November 2016, the voters of Shaker Heights supported a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that money is not speech and that corporate entities do not have constitutional rights which were intended for natural persons only.  Passage of the issue also established a biannual public forum called Democracy Day where individuals could speak before the mayor and city council of Shaker Heights about how money in politics and the construct of corporate personhood are undermining our democracy with the purpose of informing our state and congressional legislators of the will of Shaker Heights voters to establish the We the People Amendment.

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Biennial Shaker Heights Democracy Day rules again in ‘23, letting off a little corporate steam

Updated: Sep. 19, 2023, 7:23 p.m. Published: Sep. 19, 2023, 6:21 p.m.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- City Council hosted its biennial Democracy Day earlier this month -- which Shaker residents overwhelmingly voted into existence back in 2016 -- seeking to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens vs. United ruling.

This in turn led to the “Move to Amend” initiative, seeking a return to the days when corporations were not considered people and money was not equivalent to free speech -- meaning that political campaign contributions could again be regulated.

It’s an opportunity to speak out in recognition of our democratic heritage and principles,” protesting the landmark 2010 decision “as well as other rulings opposed to our democracy,” Mayor David Weiss said before turning the floor of council chambers over to Organize Ohio Executive Director Larry Bresler, serving as emcee.

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Statement of the Move to Amend Ohio Network on the defeat of Issue 1

We celebrate with many Ohioans the defeat of Issue 1 on August 8, but efforts to create an authentic democracy are ongoing.

While it is true that Issue 1 was an indirect vote on abortion, the Ohio legislature’s proposed amendment was first and foremost an attack on direct democracy, the process by which citizens can use ballot measures to create (i.e. initiatives) or reverse (i.e. referendums) laws or recall (remove) elected officials as a means of holding state officials (i.e. legislators and the governor) accountable when they fail to govern in the best interests of the people.

But it is also true that, as both supporters and opponents of Issue 1 pointed out, ballot measures can be—indeed, they are—manipulated by big money from the ultra wealthy and large corporations.  

This is why the concept “one person, one vote” can never be a truly legitimate exercise of democratic principles until we abolish once and for all the misguided doctrine “one dollar, one vote,” established by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that money spent on political campaigns is a protected form of First Amendment free speech rights, first established in the 1976 Buckley vs Valeo decision.

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No time like the present as Cleveland Heights holds 10th annual Democracy Day

Updated: Jun. 20, 2023, 8:12 a.m.

At the podium in Cleveland Heights council chambers at City Hall, Carla Rautenberg served as moderator for the 10th annual Cleveland Heights Democracy Day, held June 7.Tom Jewell/Special to cleveland.com



CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Organizers of the 10th annual Democracy Day held at City Hall earlier this month pointed out that no money was exchanged for the people’s right to free speech.

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