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October 12, 2012

Letter: Free speech is for people only

To the editor:

This Election Day, voters in Haverhill have the opportunity to vote on Question 4, a non-binding, but very important, ballot question.

A “Yes” vote on Question 4 calls on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment stating that: constitutional rights apply only to people, not corporations, unions, or other incorporated entities, and “we the people” can pass laws to put reasonable limits on political spending.

There should be bipartisan support to restore democracy and make Congress responsible to its constituents. The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission declared corporations to have the same constitutional rights as people and took away the power of Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending. Following this decision, we have seen campaign spending skyrocket. In 2012 campaigns are expected to spend more than $1 billion; much of it undisclosed “dark” money. This makes politicians beholden to the funders of the campaigns, not the people they serve.

Passing Question 4 is the first step toward a government that is accountable to citizens rather than to big campaign donors. The idea of corporate free speech rights would have been shocking to the Founders, who severely curtailed their power. And it should be shocking to us. A “Yes” vote on Question 4 allows “we the people” to express our desire to see our government returned back to us. This is a non-partisan issue.

If you would like to hear more about Question 4 please join us for a forum on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Haverhill. More information is also available at www.DemocracyAmendmentMass.org.

Bill Lang

Haverhill

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