By Dan Powers
On November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine more communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.
All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities: Jackson County (69%), Sauk County (72%) and Wood County (80%); as well as the villages of Readstown (91%), Westfield (87%) and Weston (83%); and the towns of Kickapoo (85%), Rib Mountain (78%) and Vermont (86%).
That brings the total to 142 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. According to Wisconsin United to Amend, in total, about three million people (55% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 780 towns, villages, cities, and counties.
In Wisconsin, resolutions calling for a non-binding statewide vote on Citizens United (the 2010 Supreme Court ruling) have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 53 /SJR 54). The referendum asks voters if the Wisconsin legislature and the Wisconsin congressional delegation should support and ratify an amendment stating: "Only human beings - not corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations or similar associations - are endowed with constitutional rights, and Money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to restricting political speech."
In Door County, 18 of the 20 municipal government units (including the Door County Board) have overwhelmingly passed and sent resolutions of support for holding the statewide referendum. Still, neither house has let the bills out of committee for public comment. Hopefully, in the next biennium, Rep. Kitchens and Sen. Jacque will help to get the bills to the floor.
A large majority of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns. And several polls indicate that government corruption is either the most important or a very important issue facing the country. However, only a strong outcry from the public will ever overcome the sway of big money in our state and federal elections.