McFarland voters will weigh in on if the Village Board should pass a resolution supporting restricting constitutional rights to only humans, often referred to as the Citizens United case.
The village’s April 3 ballot will ask voters if they agree the Constitution should be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech and that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights.
George Penn of the Wisconsin United to Amend provided some information on the purpose behind the question at a March 7 informational session. Penn believes money in politics is the root cause of many of governments ails as politicians cater to those who provide them the most financial backing.
The United to Amend movement came out of the 2010 Citizen’s United vs. Federal Elections Commission United States Supreme Court case dealing with regulating political campaign spending by organizations. The court found the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.
“It opened the floodgates,” Penn said. “Money owns our politicians now.”
Penn said $6 billion was spent on 2012 federal elections. While only .26 percent of contributors gave more than $200, that same group accounted for 68 percent of all contributions, he said.
“This issue is screwing everything up,” said McFarland resident Sheila Plotkin, who also said removing money from politics is common ground for all political ideologies.
Thus far, 120 Wisconsin communities have passed United to Amend referendums; three of those communities had 91 percent of the voters who showed up supporting restricting the amounts of money corporations, unions and other organizations could donate to political candidates.
Penn said nationally, more than 760 communities have passed similar referendums, and 19 states have also agreed to the United to Amend proposal. If 15 more states take up the issue, it will be forced to be addressed in Washington, D.C.