Wednesday May 23, 2012

The effort to pressure Congress into overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision opening the floodgates of corporate money into election campaigns may be a long shot but if it is to succeed it must begin with a groundswell at the local level. That grassroots effort has begun and seven Berkshire communities are on record in support.

At town meetings this month, voters in Great Barrington, Lanesborough, Monterey, Otis, Sheffield, Stockbridge and Williamstown approved resolutions urging passage of a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. A total of 57 Massachusetts communities (including nearby Cummington) have passed resolutions so far this spring. Beacon Hill is considering such a resolution by the state as a whole and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has written to Con gress urging this action.

Ignoring years of legal precedents, the Court's five-member right wing majority ended virtually all oversight and restraint of corporate campaign contributions, and the result this year has been the creation of so-called superPACS, which pour millions of dollars into negative and often inaccurate campaign advertising. Whatever laws Congress passes in response will eventually be tossed out by the highly political court majority. The constitutional amendment route is the best response and the process is under way -- here and in much of the nation.


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