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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/28/12

Labor's Got to Get Serious About Amending to Overturn 'Citizens United'

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Cross-posted from The Nation


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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is pulling no punches when it comes to the US Supreme Court's recent pattern of decisions regarding the way in which corporations can engage in politics versus the way in which unions can engage.

"[This] Supreme Court says you cannot do anything to hamper the First Amendment rights of corporations," argues Trumka. "But when it comes to workers, they haven't seen a detriment to the First Amendment that they haven't liked yet."

Trumka has been increasingly critical of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling in recent months, arguing: "Citizen United has ushered in a new era of elections and it's not a pretty picture."

But now he has even more reason to be concerned. And, hopefully, to swing the labor movement toward even more aggressive support of fundamental reforms in how election campaigns are financed -- up to and including a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Traditionally, major corporations and major unions have both tended to seek maximum flexibility when it comes to political spending. And much of the media has covered corporations and unions as equal players. That was never really the case. Corporations, freed by the Court to spend freely from their treasuries on political campaigns, will invariably have more money at their disposal than unions. And the Court's determination to extend Citizens United, as evidenced Monday by its rejection of Montana's century-old anti-corruption law, which banned restricted corporate influence in state and local elections, sets up even more brutal battles in regions where unions will have a very tough time even competing with corporate cash.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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