-By Diane Sweet
November 8, 2012- An overlooked development from Montana on election night, a referendum to state that corporations don’t have constitutional rights has unofficially passed by a 75 percent to 25 percent margin. Initiative number 166 stated that “corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings,” and thus is a blow to the Citizen’s United ruling that helped make this presidential election the most expensive one ever.
Montana has been a real leader in efforts to buck Citizen’s United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that equated money with free speech and allowed corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns through super PACs. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that limited political spending in state and local elections earlier this year.
Montana and Colorado are the first states to endorse an amendment through statewide votes. Seven other states — Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey — acted through their legislatures, which passed resolutions calling for an amendment. In two more states, Connecticut and Maryland, majorities of the legislatures signed letters to Congress calling for an amendment.
These votes reflect an extraordinary level of public support for overruling Citizens United, which has also been found repeatedly in national polling, most recently an Associated Press poll found that 83 percent of Americans favor limits on the amount of money corporations, unions, and other organizations can spend on our elections. That's more than 8 in 10 Americans.