Group takes aim at Citizens United

There’s a revolution brewing at Inquiring Minds. Each Monday, a group called the Movement to Amend the Constitution meets there to talk about the Supreme Court Citizens United case that opened the flood gates of limitless political spending by corporations under the banner of free speech, and posits that corporations have the same rights as individuals.

“It’s trying to educate people about something called corporate personhood. Over the last 126 years the Supreme Court has actually granted a number of rights that really should be for human beings, like the right to free speech to corporations,” said Maggie Williams, the group’s chairperson. “There’s no legislation that says corporations have the same rights as people, but the Supreme Court has effectively given them more rights than what we have currently.”

The local group was founded this April as a loose affiliate of Move to Amend (movetoamend.org), a national movement formed to oppose Citizens United.

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“There are a number of groups focusing on overturning Citizens United because they are objecting to how it affects election law,” Williams said. “For instance, if we try to regulate campaign financing, corporations have a right to free speech which supersedes our right to a clean election.”

The Saugerties chapter has a core group of five volunteers, who have circulated petitions and generated support from over 200 Ulster County residents. The ultimate goal, Williams said, is to build the movement to the point where local towns are involved.

“It requires a pretty big grassroots movement,” she said, adding that the group is encouraged by what’s happened elsewhere. “In Vermont, in about four months, they were able to get 56 towns to sign resolutions of support. We’re all volunteers, so we’re trying to do what we can do. It’s not going to effect this election season, but the goal is to get something done this year.”

Movement to Amend the Constitution meets at the Inquiring Mind bookstore in the village on Mondays from 5:30-7 p.m., and they’re also hosting a town meeting at the Frank D. Greco Senior Center on Wednesday, July 25 from 7-9 p.m. Williams said the group is hoping for a good local turnout, and she added that anyone can call her for more information at 845-246-1701.

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