The 2010 Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ushered in an era of unfettered spending on elections by corporations. In its five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts on elections. Not every corporation is happy with that decision. The iconic ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s sure is not. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield launched their “Get the Dough Out of Politics” campaign on February 13 on the MSNBC’s, Dylan Ratigan Show.
Ben & Jerry’s is using its considerable clout as a beloved ice cream company to raise awareness about the Citizen’s United decision, a Supreme Court decision that, in my opinion, guts democracy. While appearing on the Dyland Ratigan Show, Greenfield said, “We have to get massive grass roots activation.”
The campaign is definitely doing what it can to get such activation. There is a website, GetTheDoughOut.org, which asks people to sign up to campaign against Citizen’s United. Information about the campaign appears on the Ben & Jerry’s website as well. The campaign will have “Scoop Trucks” this summer at the Bonaroo Music Festival, which, in addition to serving ice cream, will ask people to sign postcards.
The launch of Get the Dough Out occured on the fifth anniversary of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, AmeriCone Dream, a flavor inspired by late-night talk show host, Stephen Colbert. The Get the Dough Out message will be featured on AmeriCone Dream containers.
“We feel that the time is now, during an election year, and that this is the major issue to highlight as the NEW American dream,” said said Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim. “We’re speaking on behalf of the 99%, using our pulpit as an activist company to highlight the fact that things are topsy-turvy,” added Solheim.
Two Supreme Court justices seem to disagree with Citizens United
The Supreme Court blocked a Montana Supreme Court decision on February 17 that upheld the state’s 100 year-old ban on corporate spending. The responses of two Supreme Court justices, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer indicate they might be rethinking the decision. Ginsburg wrote:
“Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
“A petition for certiorari [from those challenging the Montana court’s decision] will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”
50 organizations deliver letters to Congress
Alternnet reports that 50 organizations presented letters to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees last week that requested hearings on amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. Organizations that signed the letter include People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause, MoveOn.org, Free Speech For People, Move to Amend and African American Ministers In Action.
“As activists have mobilized and protested across the country,” the letter states, “it is time for Congress to explore in earnest the range of resolutions that have been introduced to undo the harmful effects of the court’s decision.”
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