Jeffrey D. Clements, author of Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It, will lead a discussion about the impact of Super-PACs on campaign financing following the January 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and how this problem can be fixed. His talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, March 8, beginning at 12:15 p.m. in Mail I auditorium, inside Dana Hall on the University of Hartford campus.
Clements is a cofounder and general counsel of Free Speech for People, a national, nonpartisan campaign to oppose corporate personhood and pass the People’s Rights Amendment. The founder of Clements Law Office, LLC, he has represented and advocated for people, businesses, and the public interest since 1988, serving as assistant attorney general and chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau in Massachusetts from 2007 to 2009.
Clements’ talk is presented by Common Cause in Connecticut and by the University of Hartford’s department of social sciences in Hillyer College and department of politics and government in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The January 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission marked a culminating victory for the legal doctrine of corporate personhood. Corporations, as legal persons, are now entitled to exercise their free-speech rights in the form of campaign spending, effectively enabling corporate domination of the electoral process. In his book, Corporations Are Not People, Clements uncovers the roots, expansion, and far-reaching effects of the strange and destructive idea, which flies in the face of not only all common sense but, Clements shows, most of American legal history, from 1787 to the 1970s.
His book details its impact on the American political landscape, economy, job market, environment, and public health—and how it permeates our daily lives, from the quality of air we breathe to the types of jobs we can get to the politicians we elect. Most importantly, he offers a solution: a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and tools readers can use to mount a grassroots drive to get it passed.
Overturning Citizens United is not about a triumph of one political ideology over another, he asserts. It’s about restoring the democratic principles on which America was built. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist both vocally opposed the idea of corporate personhood.