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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Boswell pushes constitutional amendment to overturn SCOTUS ruling

By Jason Hancock | 01.21.10 | 2:35 pm

Third District U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines, has introduced legislation amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporations and labor unions from using operating and general treasury funds to “bankroll federal campaign advertisements.”

U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa

U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa

The push comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling Thursday that overturned a 1990 decision that allowed the government to bar corporations and unions from spending general treasury funds on ads expressly urging a candidate’s election or defeat. It also overruled part of a 2003 decision that upheld The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as McCain-Feingold.

Jane Slusark, Boswell’s press secretary, told The Iowa Independent the Congressman’s resolution has been formally introduced and is being circulated for co-sponsors.

“I have introduced this important legislation because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” Boswell said in a statement. “The court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”

Boswell said House Joint Resolution 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to pay for an advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate.

“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”

A coalition of public interest organizations also called for a constitutional amendment. Those groups, which include Voter Action, Public Citizen, the Center for Corporate Policy, and the American Independent Business Alliance, say the court’s ruling poses a serious and direct threat to democracy.

“Free speech rights are for people, not corporations,” said John Bonifaz, Voter Action’s legal director. “In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in US history. This campaign to amend the Constitution will seek to restore the First Amendment to its original purpose.”

For his amendment to become reality it would have to pass by a two-thirds vote in the U.S. House and Senate, then be ratified by 38 state legislatures or state conventions within the next seven years.

Follow Jason Hancock on Twitter


Comments

  • desmoinesdem

    Good for him. I wonder how many co-sponsors he will get.

    • scottalameda

      Rep. Donna Edwards, 4th district Maryland, for one. I pray there will be others. J_Baustian should read “Unequal Protection” by Thom Hartmann. Corporations are NOT people, as the framers of our Constitution knew. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I hope we shall… crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” — To George Logan, 1816.

      • J_Baustian

        Corporations are not people, but they are legal persons and have been since the infancy of the United States. One could go back even further, into English common law, and possibly back as far as Roman law in the early centuries of the Christian era, to find examples where corporate entities were treated as individuals in the courts of law, as either plaintiff or defendant.

  • scottwsomerville

    What did this representative do in response to the Flag Burning case? That was a BIG free speech case–did he support a constitutional amendment then?

  • J_Baustian

    Who does Leonard Boswell think he is? Someone with more wisdom than James Madison?

    Such hypocrisy! Has Boswell never heard of the First Amendment? It says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    When the people assemble into groups, or organizations, or corporations, they do not lose their free speech rights. And it does not matter whether they express their opinions in a newspaper editorial, or a web log, or a feature-length film, or a 30-second TV or radio commercial. Congress does not need to respond to the Supreme Court decision by trying to invent some new scheme to limit free speech. All we really need is complete, accurate, and timely disclosure of who is paying — then we can make up our own minds about how much credence to give to an opinion.

    • betweenthelines

      Bastardizing the Constitution by your deeply flawed interpretation of the First Amendment is exactly what the SCOTUS Justices did. People do not “assemble” into a corporation. There is no loss of the individual rights of anyone in a corporation, but now the very few people at the top of a corporation will have more power than any individual in the country ONLY because of the money they control. Are you really enough of an imbecile to believe that a corporation is a democratic entity created for the good of the many?

      • J_Baustian

        I could merely point out that media corporations can already publish anything they want, and they certainly hide behind the First Amendment whenever it's convenient. Why should they have rights which non-media corporations not enjoy?

        The SCOTUS ruled in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819) that corporations are entitled to be treated the same as individuals. Let's see, that was 190 years ago. So it is absurd to claim that the court did something totally unique in American history when it ruled the way it did in the Citizens United case. Incidentally, Daniel Webster was attorney for the plaintiffs in the Dartmouth College case. Do a Google search. Later, in the 1880s, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment applies to corporations as well as individuals.

  • betweenthelines

    Bastardizing the Constitution by your deeply flawed interpretation of the First Amendment is exactly what the SCOTUS Justices did. People do not “assemble” into a corporation. There is no loss of the individual rights of anyone in a corporation, but now the very few people at the top of a corporation will have more power than any individual in the country ONLY because of the money they control. Are you really enough of an imbecile to believe that a corporation is a democratic entity created for the good of the many?

  • J_Baustian

    I could merely point out that media corporations can already publish anything they want, and they certainly hide behind the First Amendment whenever it's convenient. Why should they have rights which non-media corporations not enjoy?

    The SCOTUS ruled in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819) that corporations are entitled to be treated the same as individuals. Let's see, that was 190 years ago. So it is absurd to claim that the court did something totally unique in American history when it ruled the way it did in the Citizens United case. Incidentally, Daniel Webster was attorney for the plaintiffs in the Dartmouth College case. Do a Google search. Later, in the 1880s, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment applies to corporations as well as individuals.

  • J_Baustian

    Corporations are not people, but they are legal persons and have been since the infancy of the United States. One could go back even further, into English common law, and possibly back as far as Roman law in the early centuries of the Christian era, to find examples where corporate entities were treated as individuals in the courts of law, as either plaintiff or defendant.

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