WASHINGTON – The Communications Workers, the top union proponents of constitutional limits on corporate spending in politics, vowed to step up that drive after the Supreme Court tossed out Montana’s century-old state ban on such corporate cash.

The ruling said the Constitution’s first amendment guarantees of free speech – which the court applied to corporate political speech in its Citizens United ruling two years ago – voids Montana’s law, too. And that would apply to other state laws, also.

After Citizens United, Common Cause began a drive to amend the U.S. Constitution. Its proposal says that, for purposes of political speech, corporations are not people and not entitled to rights like freedom of speech that people enjoy under the Bill of Rights. The CWA has enthusiastically joined the Common Cause constitutional campaign.

The June 25 ruling by the five-person majority of the court, in the Montana case, American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, “will only continue and extend the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics,” the union said.

The same five justices voted for Citizens United, CWA pointed out. It called the Montana decision “yet another example of the court showing its ideological bias over clear constitutional thinking.”

Citizens United let corporate political spending “spiral out of control,” CWA noted. Left unsaid: Almost all of the hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate and big giver political cash is hidden, funneled through pro-GOP anti-worker front groups and radical right organizations and directed against workers and worker-backed candidates.

“CWA agrees with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer who… said Citizens United makes it ‘exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,'” the union stated.

“We will continue to press for constitutional changes and other changes such as public financing of elections that will restore true democracy to our political and election spending,” CWA vowed.

Sen. Bernard Sanders, Ind.-Vt., who has introduced the constitutional amendment, said he would push even harder for it after the court’s ruling. In the Gettysburg address, he said, President Lincoln called the U.S. a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Between Citizens United and the anti-Montana ruling, “We are rapidly moving toward a nation of the super-rich, by the super-rich and for the super-rich.” Added Sanders: “This is not democracy; this is plutocracy.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.