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Protestors outside the state house
Protestors outside the state house

Vermonters protest Citizens United, call for constitutional amendment

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Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the supreme court Citizens United decision. The court voted 5-4, saying that corporations have the same protected speech rights as people, including the right to make unlimited financial contributions to groups who want to influence elections. That's upsetting to a lot of Vermonters. And as Sarah Harris reports, they're working to change it.

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Bill Butler from Jericho, Vermont puts up signs for the rally

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Vermont activists and lawmakers gathered at the statehouse in Montpelier on Friday to protest the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court two years ago. They called for a constitutional amendment that would abolish corporate personhood and deny first amendment rights to corporations. That means that corporations would be limited in how much money they can give to political campaigns.

Organizer Aquene Freechild led the crowd in a cheer. “Democracy is for people! Not for corporations!” they cried.

Last December Senator Bernie Sander s introduced a bill calling for such an amendment. But it’s a long road to actually passing it. The first step: getting the issue on town meeting ballots. So far, 20 towns have signed on.

“One thing we can do is put Vermont on record as urging a constitutional amendment urging congress to pass a constitutional amendment and pass it on to the states for ratification,” said Paul Burns, director of Vermont Public interest Research group, who helped organize the rally.

Speakers included state Senator Ginny Lyons and Ben & Jerry’s founder Jerry Greenfield. The rally was part of a series of events across the country in protest of the Citizens United decision. Town meeting day is scheduled for March 6.

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