Citizens United panel in Boston on April 11
Below is the press release for the panel hosted by BC Law students (including myself) being held April 11 in Boston.
Citizens United Forum Presented by Students of Boston College Law School
A collaborative of Boston College graduate students will be hosting a panel on the subject of Citizens United and campaign finance reform in Jamaica Plain on April 11 at 7pm. Panelists will include State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), President of the New England Legal Foundation Martin Newhouse, constitutional law scholar Professor Lawrence Friedman and WGBH journalist and former Washington Post reporter Ibby Caputo. Admission to the forum is free and residents of Boston and the surrounding communities are encouraged to attend and learn the reasoning behind this important Supreme Court decision and the rationale of the opposition.
“People should care about the Citizens United decision because it is having an effect on the way democracy is practiced in this country, about the way elections work and who gets elected and why,” said Professor Lawrence Friedman, a professor of Constitutional Law at New England Law | Boston and a panelist for the forum.
In January of 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a decision on Citizens United v. FEC, which displaced crucial portions of the McCain-Feingold bill related to political campaign spending limits. Regularly thought to stand for the prospect that corporations are people, in reality it is a far more complicated decision based on Constitutional interpretation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The Citizens United decision has ultimately lead to the establishment of super PACs (Political Action Committees) which facilitate unrestricted spending on political advertising by corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals, and which have allegedly resulted in a shift in the political landscape.
Though heavily criticized by some as a means by which certain parties will be permitted to unfairly influence elections, others, including panelist Martin Newhouse, believe the Citizens United decision replaces a poorly conceived statute and will create a better informed public.
The Citizens United decision has created a unique variety of responses. It is one of the few highly controversial issues on which the traditionally conservative National Rifle Association and the traditionally liberal American Civil Liberties Union find themselves in agreement; both parties supporting the decision. Despite that star-crossed alliance, there is a large and loud movement in opposition to the decision, some parties, including panelist Eldridge, proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would in essence reverse the Citizens United decision.
“For over a century, Congress and the states have limited the role of money in the political process due to its inevitably corrupting influence,” said State Senator Eldridge. “We need to take action to ensure that the right of free speech is preserved for citizens, not corporations and that we require new levels of disclosure and transparency for corporate political spending and prohibiting foreign corporations from influencing elections.”
The informed citizenry of the United States is rightfully abuzz with commentary on the subject of campaign finance reform and the Citizens United decision. Attending the Citizens United public forum on April 11th or monitoring the supporting blog site at http://citizensunitedlegalforum.tumblr.com are easy ways to become better informed no matter what your political persuasion.
The panel will take place at the United Universalist Church located at 6 Eliot Street in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston and will begin at 7:00 PM.