1) What tangible affect does adding “Money is not speech, corporations are not people” to the Massachusetts Constitution have on elections?
[I'm realizing that we're not answering his question. He's asking what will happen if we get the language added…and we're answering “why are we doing this”.]
Althought the process is referred to as an Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, we look at it as a clarification. We feel that the Massachusetts Constitution and the General Laws already recognize that corporations are not people, and that money is not speech. In other words, we don't believe that corporations are people and we do not believe that the Constitution provides corporations rights to influence our elections. There could be reviews instigated of cases where election restrictions were overturned. [what does this mean?]. (Read on) For example, subsequent to, the First National Bank v Bellotti case, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted a law that indicated that corporations were allowed to participate in electioneering in Ballot Initiatives directly affecting them, but in no other instances. If corporations had more extensive rights, then this law would not have been specific about “no other instance”. The Massachusetts SJC upheld the law, but SCOTUS overruled. The above was background to give you a sense of why we believe that what we are doing is a clarification that appears to be necessary. But as to your question about what this action will result in, even if the Amendment passes, the AG's office is not compelled to take any actions. The Legislature could be compelled by popular pressure, or elections, but that is about all, even though any restrictions that they would now legislate, would now be legal. The people would also have a greater opportunity through the Ballot Initiative, that was not previously available, because of the restrictions of what measures could previously be moved forward. [these last three sentences seem to say that this is a waste of time I might add the following]
A natural followup question would be, “if it's non-binding, then why bother?”. (It would open an area of Ballot Initiatives that was not legal previously)
The answer to this takes some background as well. Many years ago, populist-oriented State Legislators were urged to ask the State Legislature to demand that Congress amend the US Constitution to declare that “Corporations Are Not People”. A resolution (HR 772) was filed, but according to the co-sponsors, “no one was interested” and it didn't even get to a vote. Years later and about two years ago, after Citizens United, we realized, as an activist community that we needed to be “stronger” in our response to the Legislature's inaction. So we, as part of a large network of activists around the state, led by Move to Amend, Common Cause, Occupy Working Groups, and many others, starting organizing town-level ballot questions and resolutions. This grew to be a huge campaign that educated people around the state. And the response at the polls and at Town Meetings around the state was overwhelmingly in favor of declaring that “Corporations Are Not People”. While we were doing this, the Massachusetts State Legislature saw fit to pass HR772 almost unanimously. (You are misrepresenting, the same way that MTA does. Neither the Ballot Question or 772 states “Corporations are not people”.)
Why is it that in such a short period of time the Legislature went from being “not interested”, to overwhelmingly supporting?
We believe that it was public pressure. We believe that this same public pressure will build to compel the Legislature to act to amend the State Constitution on their own, without having to require the petition to get to the ballot. We believe that the Legislature, when it sees that it's going for a popular vote, will be proactive. (It would still take the same amount of time. We should not back off from our language, as you previously stated an example.)
Why do we believe this? Because the time is right. Because the people want change. And because no one wants to be told what to do by a citizens petition. BUT for this to happne, we believe that we will need to show them that people want the Constitution to be clarified so much that they are willing to go out and petition.
Now we get to your second question.
2) Does it overturn Citizens United v FEC as it relates to Massachusetts elections?
Again, it would give the opportunity to reverse the ramifications of that decision as it affects Massachusetts. Only SCOTUS can overturn CU. I would refer to the previous answer.
3) What affect does this have on Federal Elections?
Any election that is held within the borders of Massachusetts is controlled by our Election laws. That is what was so radical and disturbing about the Bush v Gore decision. All states have their own Election laws, so this question is not clear to me.
4) Do wee need to come up with more specific legislation to pass?
Right now, the Legislature can pass any law that they want to without any restrictions. Massachusetts has one of the most conservative Initiative and Referendum process in the U.S.. If the Amendment were to pass, the citizens would then have greater ability to pursue Ballot Initiatives on these subjects.
I think that we need to redo “Rebuttal to Peter for general consumption. It would answer a lot of questions.I will get started on that.