Tuesday, July 24, 2012
NM Senator Udall Advocates for Constitutional Amendment at Hearing
From Senator Tom Udalls office:
At a committee hearing on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) built support for the constitutional amendment he is sponsoring to give Congress the authority to undo dangerous Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and rein in the unprecedented flood of secret money in the campaign finance system.
"Money has poisoned our political system," Udall said. "We, as Americans, believe in government 'of the people, by the people, for the people' – and so we must work to put in place a constitutional amendment that will restore integrity to our elections and the legislative process."
Click above to see video of Udall at today's hearing.
In November 2011, Udall introduced S.J. Res. 29, a proposed amendment to allow Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money, including restricting independent expenditures by so-called “Super PACs”. It would give the states the same authority to regulate campaign finance at their level. Udall’s amendment currently has 23 cosponsors.
Legislatures in six states, including New Mexico, have called on Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification. "Over the past few months, the unfair influence exerted by Super PACs has become abundantly clear to voters in New Mexico – and they are calling for campaign finance reform. Our Founders did not intend for elections to be bought and paid for by secret donors and special interests. My amendment simply puts our elections back in the hands of ‘we the people’,” Udall said.
At the hearing, Udall noted the long and bipartisan history of support for constitutional amendments dealing with campaign finance. Since 1983, bipartisan proposals similar to Udall’s have been introduced in almost every Congress.
“James Madison argued that the U.S. Constitution should be amended only on ‘great and extraordinary occasions’,” Udall said. “I believe we have reached one of those occasions. I know amending the Constitution is difficult. And it should be. But I believe the growing momentum demonstrates that this is the right time for Congress to act," said Udall. "Our elections no longer focus on the needs and interests of individual voters, but are instead shaped by multi-million dollar ad campaigns funded by special interest groups with unlimited resources. Americans’ right to free speech should not be determined by their net worth.”
The hearing included testimony from other members of Congress and outside witnesses before the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, was titled “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs”.
Click here to view the legislative text of Senator Udall’s amendment.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Luján Recognizes Local Efforts to Call for an End to Corporate Influence in the Electoral Process
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District recognized efforts of local governments to call for the end to corporate influence in the electoral process. With localities nationwide this week highlighting resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, Luján applauded the efforts of the cities of Santa Fe and Taos.
Earlier this year, the City of Santa Fe and the Town of Taos passed resolutions expressing strong opposition to the Citizen United decision and urging Congress to take action to reduce the influence of corporate money in the democratic process. The City of Albuquerque is expected to have a similar resolution on the agenda on Monday, June 18.
“Citizens United has opened the floodgates for special-interest corporate money that seeks to influence elections and drown out the voices of the American people. Third party groups can spend unlimited amounts of money and hide their donors to prevent the American people from finding the truth behind where their money comes from,” Congressman Luján said. “I welcome the efforts of local communities around the country, especially those in New Mexico, that are standing up this week to call for action that removes corporate influence in our elections and reaffirms the bedrock principles of our democracy by giving voice back to the people. It is time to restore accountability and transparency, which are so vital to the electoral process, and take steps to get corporate money out of politics.”
Luján is cosponsoring legislation to amend the Constitution to overturn the decision in Citizens United. He has signed onto the House version of legislation introduced by Senator Tom Udall in the Senate. Luján has also cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act, which increases transparency by: enhancing public reporting of campaign-related activity by corporations and other outside groups; requiring corporations and other outside groups to stand by their ads; requiring corporations and other outside groups to disclose campaign-related spending to shareholders; and requiring lobbyists to disclose campaign-related expenditures in conjunction with their lobbying activities.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
ACLU Sues Roswell for Violating Christian Preachers’ Right to Free Speech
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a lawsuit against the City of Roswell, NM, alleging that police officers repeatedly violated the First Amendment free speech rights of two local street preachers, Joshua and Jeremy De Los Santos. Joshua and Jeremy are brothers and members of the Old Paths Baptist Church in Roswell, where Joshua is the pastor. Both believe they have a duty to boldly preach the Gospel in public, and both regularly do so in publicly owned spaces. However, the Roswell Police Department (RPD) has arrested both brothers multiple times for expressing their sincerely held religious beliefs in public, as is their right under the First Amendment.
“Our right to express our religious beliefs is among the most precious of American freedoms,” says ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Freedom of speech and religion means that any person can express any religious belief, no matter how unpopular, in public without fear of arrest or government harassment. Today, the ACLU is standing with the De Los Santos brothers to affirm and defend this right in Roswell.”
In the past two years, Roswell police officers have arrested Jeremy De Los Santos five times for preaching in public and arrested Joshua twice for the same activity. In every case, the charges against the plaintiffs were dismissed by a court of law.
The De Los Santos brothers allege that the Roswell police falsely arrested them without probable cause for exercising their First Amendment right to Free Speech on public property. The brothers also claim that RPD confiscated phones, cameras, camcorders and a bullhorn, some of which have not yet been returned.
Jeremy De Los Santos also claims that RPD officers used excessive force on two occasions. On September 24, 2010, RPD arrested Jeremy for preaching outside in the church parking lot. Before placing Jeremy in the squad car for transport to the local detention facility, an officer sprayed pepper spray or a similar chemical agent in the back seat, making it difficult for Jeremy to breathe. On Memorial Day, 2011, RPD officers again arrested Jeremy as he attempted to preach at a public event held in a park. After RPD booked Jeremy into jail, they handcuffed him behind his back and shackled him to the wall in a painful stress position.
“The Roswell Police Department’s mission is to serve and protect everyone in their community, even the people they disagree with,” says ACLU-NM Staff Attorney Ed Macy. “Arresting people for publicly preaching their religious beliefs tramples on the Constitutional guarantees that the Roswell Police Department officers took an oath to uphold.”
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court by ACLU-NM Staff Attorney Edwin Macy and ACLU-NM Managing Attorney Laura Schauer Ives.
A copy of the legal complaint is attached here: Download De Los Santos v Roswell.
Monday, February 13, 2012
History Being Made In NM; Citizens United US Constitutional Amendment Approved
After a rather short 45 minute debate on the Senate Floor SM3 passed the Senate. The press room was empty but for a few bloggers. DFNM was there and feels we witnessed a great peice of history being made.
The first steps in the long process ahead of overturning the Supreme Court Decision now called "Citizens United". Like other poorly (or cleverly) named efforts that are the exact opposite of what they say; like "Clean Skys" only to be polluters, the Citizens United should really be called; "Corporations United" or "Foriegn Corporations United", or how bout "Filthy Rich PAC's United", or the real name should be "Anyone but Citizens United".
Of course the Republicans held forth in the debate on the floor: the supreme court ruling is fair and right, Corporations are made up of people, what about the unions and their money and influence on campaigns, and how about Obama and that he is going to be the ultimate user of the Citizens United ruling, with the money that is being projected for his Presidential reelection campaign. Even with the Obama card drawn by themselves all R's present chose to not support this Memorial. Why cause they know it is their ace.
Below is a press conference video conducted shortly after the historic vote on Saturday.
Below is from ProgressNow New Mexico.
On Saturday, New Mexico Senate Memorial 3, co-sponsored by State Senators Steve Fischmann of Las Cruces and Eric Griego of Albuquerque , was approved by a vote of 20-9 in the New Mexico State Senate. Along with its companion bill, Rep. Mimi Stewart’s House Memorial 3 (approved 38-29 on January 31, 2012), the bill’s passage makes New Mexico the second state in the nation to call for the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission!
This big step is just the first of many towards overturning Citizens United.
Stay alert to the latest in this important effort on this new webgroup.
Your voice was heard through the petition you signed!
See what just a few of your state senators wrote in response:
Your signing this petition sends a very clear signal to us here in the legislature: corporations aren't people and treating them as if they were is just another way of reducing real people's influence in elections and in the governmental process. Now we have to send that same message to the Congress. Overturn the unimaginably bad Supreme Court decision in "Citizens United"! Jerry Ortiz y Pino, NM State Senate District 12
I introduced the overturn Citizen's United memorial in the State Senate. It has cleared committees and awaits a vote on the Senate floor. . Overturning Citizens United is central to preserving the integrity of our elections, our democracy, and your political speech.
Thanks for your support of this measure, Senator Steve Fischmann
We've set up a special new webgroup for SM3's Citizen Sponsors to follow the latest on work to overturn Citizens United and maintain the integrity of our democratic process.
We won't rest until Citizens United is overturned and the people take back our elections!
Congratulations on achieving this big milestone for New Mexico and our country!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
New Mexico a Leader in Nation Calling for Amendment to U.S. Constitution to reverse Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision
Senate Memorial 3, sponsored by State Senator Steve Fischmann of Las Cruces, was just approved by a vote of 20-9 in the New Mexico State Senate. Along with its companion bill, Rep. Mimi Stewart’s House Memorial 3 (approved 38-29 on January 31, 2012), the bill’s passage makes New Mexico the second state in the nation to call for the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission (Hawaii was the first, in April, 2010).
The Citizens United ruling resulted in an explosion of unlimited, and often undisclosed, Super PAC spending, as we have seen in the current Republican presidential nominating process. The memorial is an important statement by the New Mexico State Legislature because the constitutional amendment process requires ratification by a minimum of 38 states.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Fischmann, emphasized the legislation’s role in defending our nation’s democracy. "Voters need to know their opinions count as much as any corporate entity, trade, or labor association. I'm proud that New Mexico's State Senate is willing to stand for this principle,” said Fischmann. Lead advocate Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico praised the legislation’s passage as “a frank statement of the State of New Mexico’s intent to correct the egregiously wrong Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to spend millions on electing politicians who will do their bidding.”
The impact of HM4/SM3 was also touted by national partners who joined in advocating for the legislation. "Today's vote by the New Mexico State Senate marks a great victory for American democracy," said Maram Abdelhamid, national field director for Free Speech For People, a national campaign pressing for a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling. "The State of New Mexico is helping to lead the way for the nation in this movement to ensure that people, not corporations, govern in America. We look forward to working with other state legislatures which will follow New Mexico's example and defend our democracy."
Addressing the flood of campaign contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals is supported by a vast and diverse majority of Americans, including two-thirds of small business owners. Lawrence Rael, President of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, emphasizes that "the Citizens United decision is deeply unpopular with our businesses and the vast majority of small businesses leaders believe the decision hurts small companies.”
As memorials, the two bills need no further approval or signatures in New Mexico.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Become a "Citizen Sponsor" on NM's Memorial to Overturn Citizens United
From SWOP; SouthWest Organizing Project
New Mexico's State Senate is considering a memorial opposing the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision which now allows unlimited spending by corporations in elections.
The legislation passed the New Mexico State House on January 31, and if approved by the Senate, would place our state on record as the 2nd state in the nation to oppose the ruling (a constitutional amendment would eventually return to states for ratification).
Senators have the option of signing on as cosponsors of this legislation, and so should we. You can add your name to this list of Citizen Sponsors of Senate Memorial 3, opposing this attack on our nation's democracy.
That's why we created a petition to The New Mexico State Senate, which says " Sign me up as a CITIZEN SPONSOR of Senate Memorial 3, opposing the Citizens United ruling that granted corporations the same speech rights as people and the ability to spend without limits to influence elections."
Will you sign this petition? Click here.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
NM State House of Representatives Calls for Amendment to U.S. Constitution to Reverse Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision
House Memorial 4, sponsored by State Representative Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, was approved by a 38-29 vote in the New Mexico State House of Representatives today. HM4 puts the House on record calling for the Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission -- a ruling that has resulted in an explosion of unlimited, and often undisclosed, Super PAC spending in the current Republican presidential nominating process.
"Today, the New Mexico State House of Representatives took a stand for our nation's democracy and the intent of our Constitution, which values the voices of individuals over the voice of money," said Viki Harrison of Common Cause New Mexico. "This legislation is significant because it puts New Mexico on record in support of a Constitutional amendment that will eventually require ratification by 38 states."
Representative Don Tripp of Socorro was the lone Republican to vote in favor of the bill. Three other Republicans -- Paul Bandy, David Chavez, and Bob Wooley -- were recorded as absent for the vote on HM4. All House Democrats and independent Andy Nunez of Hatch voted in favor.
In her opening remarks about the legislation, Rep. Stewart noted that largely due to the Citizens United ruling, more than $20 million had been spent by Super PACs in Florida in the last week alone.
Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D, Bernalillo) discussed the long tradition of popularly-supported campaign finance regulation in the United States that has held that corporate spending in elections should be either prohibited or strictly regulated.
As a House Memorial, the legislation needs no further approval or signatures, although similar expressions of opposition to Citizens United are contained in at least three other memorials.
The current impact of Super PAC spending has already been evident in the Republican presidential primaries. Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul, contributed two $5 million checks to a SuperPAC supporting Newt Gingrich.
Senator John McCain recently called the Citizens United decision the worst Supreme Court decision in history.
A vast majority of small businesses across the nation are also concerned about the impact of the decision. In a recent survey, 66% said the ruling was "bad for business." http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_money_in_politics.html. In an opinion editorial in the Albuquerque Journal last weekend, Albuquerque small business owner Joshua Fristoe of Kosh Solutions noted that "when I make decisions about where to invest in our business, I prefer to do so in innovation and business development. Increasingly, the assumption seems to be that underwriting political campaigns should just be accepted as just another cost of doing business."
Friday, January 27, 2012
FREE Speech for The People
ClearlySK has this to say about Citizens United and FREE Speech for The People:
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Heinrich: Our Government Belongs to the American People, Not Foreign Corporations and Powerful Special-Interest Groups
U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) released the following statement to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which overturned a century of common-sense campaign finance laws and allowed unlimited corporate and special interest donations into our political campaigns. The anniversary is tomorrow, January 21:
“Like most New Mexicans, I was outraged when decades of law was overturned that prohibited corporations from spending unlimited money in political campaigns. The Citizens United decision was a victory for the Wall Street banks and Big Oil, but it was a slap in the face to average Americans.
“That is why I took action in Congress in 2010 and worked to pass the DISCLOSE Act—to increase transparency and disclosure of political spending. And just last year, I introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would regulate the raising and spending of funds in elections—regulating so-called, ‘Super PACs,’ which we’ve all seen concentrate money and political power in the hands of the elite and away from working Americans.
“Our nation’s democracy is founded on the right to vote and the ability of every citizen to participate in that process equally. It’s time we put the American voter first and stop corporate excess in our elections. Make no mistake; our government belongs to the American people, not foreign corporations and powerful special-interest groups.”
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Albuquerque Protests in Support of Constitutional Amendment Spurred by Anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision
The following is a report from Contributing Writer Suzanne Prescott.
A group of about 20 people gathered in Albuquerque at the home of Margaret Viers, to plan protests against the US Supreme Court decision nearly two years ago which ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. While awareness of what Citizens United vs. the FEC means has grown, as we approach the January 2012 two-year anniversary of the decision, its impact is still not widely understood. Protests in Albuquerque against the Citizens United decision are planned for the third week of January, specifically January 17th and 20th. In addition to increasing awareness of the ways in which the Supreme Court decision destroys the integrity of elections, the protests are focused on gathering support for a constitutional amendment which will make it clear that corporations are not people.
The controversy centers on the Supreme Court’s ruling that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited. Citizens United is a conservative non-profit organization. The case, known as ‘Citizens United v Federal Election Commission,’ allows corporations to use their general funds to buy campaign ads. Previous to this ruling, campaign finance rules prohibited TV attack ads funded by outside groups. The decision opened the door for unlimited contributions by corporations as well as unions. The high court cited the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of the right of free speech, and it was the first time a corporate entity was treated like a person. Detractors of the ruling cried foul and correctly point out that the decision by the Supreme Court hands lobbyists even greater powers. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official, “If you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.” The ruling also opened the door for foreign governments to affect the outcome of United States elections.
The planning meeting was sponsored by five national organizations, and held at the home of Margaret Viers, who said of the impact of the Citizens United decision, “The court’s decision gave corporations the same status as people and this unprecedented move increases the influence of corporations in politics at a time when Americans are clearly concerned about corporate influence and are looking to restore the power of people in a government of by and for the people.”
The Citizens’ United ruling was especially welcomed by Republicans who respond to corporations in exchange for campaign contributions. The cozy relationship became more obvious after reports that two Supreme Court Justices attended a secret Koch Industries strategy meeting prior to voting to extend free speech rights to corporations just in time for the 2010 midterm campaigns. The midterm elections saw a record amount of campaign contributions from anonymous sources that were illegal for years until the high court broke with precedent and gave personhood to corporations. The rash of Republican governors’ victories and subsequent corporate favoritism and tax cuts at the expense of poor and working class Americans is evidence that there is a serious need for accountability and transparency in campaign financing.
Margaret Viers also points out an additional concern about the ruling involves its secrecy, “Even worse, the Supreme Court decided that there was no need to disclose where the money came from. By protesting the Citizens United Decision, we hope to spread awareness of the dangers of the ruling and to increase the momentum for a Constitutional Amendment which makes it clear that corporations are not people.”
Details about times and locations will be available shortly. Persons interested in more information should contact [email protected], or 505-242-4107.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Garamendi/Heinrich Bill Clarifies Detention Policy & Protects American Citizens' Due Process Rights
Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) and Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque, NM), members of the House Armed Services Committee, on December 16, 2011, introduced H.R. 3702, the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011. The bill clarifies U.S. law by amending the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to ensure that within the United States, U.S. citizens and permanent residents cannot be detained indefinitely without trial. It is companion legislation to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011.
“Every American deserves their day in court, and this legislation changes existing law to protect our due process rights,” Congressman Garamendi said. “We cannot allow our basic rights to be lost, and there is no legitimate national security reason to deny any citizen in America a trial. We can both keep America safe and maintain our liberties.”
“Detainee provisions included in this year’s Defense Authorization and retained in the final Conference Report do not strengthen our national security and are at complete odds with the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Heinrich. “It is time we restore the proper balance between individual liberties and national security.”
Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the just passed NDAA Conference Report would authorize the indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without explicitly protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this new law, individual American citizens suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.” The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 ensures that U.S. citizens and permanent residents on American soil are protected from this provision.
The bill clarifies existing U.S. law and states unequivocally that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens or lawful U.S. residents. The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 became necessary due to ambiguous language in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Bravo! Heinrich Votes Against Flawed Defense Authorization Bill
Fresh from Rep. Martin Heinrich's office:
U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) voted today against the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has supported all previous defense authorization bills that have been voted on in the House of Representatives.
“Our brave men and women in uniform serve honorably every day, and it is our responsibility in Congress to ensure they receive the funding and resources they need to carry out their mission,” said Rep. Heinrich. “However, the Defense Authorization bill was used as a vehicle to authorize the military to go anywhere in the world to imprison anyone suspected of terrorism—even American citizens on U.S. soil—without charge or trial. By mandating military detention of suspected terrorists, this law places additional responsibilities on the military that they have not sought, nor have the resources to carry out, compromising our national security.”
Section 1022 (formerly Section 1032 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities. This would deny civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective interrogation, detention, and prosecution. Respected bipartisan members of the national security community— including the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division—oppose this provision.
“If we have evidence that a U.S. citizen is planning to or causing harm to our country, that person should absolutely be arrested, tried and brought to justice,” said Rep. Heinrich. “But instead, this law would harm our justice system and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”
Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this authority, any individual—including Americans on U.S. soil—suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.”
“Since September 11, 2001, Americans have made tremendous sacrifices in both blood and treasure,” said Rep. Heinrich. “In President Obama’s inaugural address, he asked every American to ‘reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’ Now, a decade after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, it is time we follow through in rejecting this false choice. America can be both safe and free.”