by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
BATH — A number of Bath residents plan to hold a public meeting on Feb. 21 to discuss Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, often referred to as “Citizens United,” the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that granted corporations the right to use unlimited and undisclosed amounts of funds in public elections.
The meeting, which will be held in the Bath city hall auditorium, will feature information about the citizen group’s resolution that will be presented to the Bath City Council on March 9. The resolution aims to join with others being formed across the country in order to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The goal of the meeting is to make sure that any citizens who wish to be are informed about the resolution we want the city council to pass,” said Halcyon Blake, one of the key members of the group pushing for the resolution. “We want citizens to find out more.”
According to Blake, during their petition drive in which they collected 750 signatures from residents of Bath, they were surprised that a large portion of people had no idea that Citizens United was an issue.
The main drive against the Citizens United decision stems from it giving corporations the right to use unlimited amounts of money in an election, without needing to disclose the amount. The worry is that the massive amounts of leverage this money can give corporate interests is skewing elections, as it allows companies to spend as much money as they want to help whichever candidate they feel promotes their interests.
“There are people who don’t know about Citizens United,” said Karen Wainberg, another member of the Bath group. “But I found very few people who don’t get the effect of big money in politics.”
The resolution that the group is pushing for the city council to pass will call for an amendment to the constitution that will prevent a decision like Citizens United from being passed again and remove corporations’ ability to put as much money as they want behind candidates.
“We gathered the 750 signatures, asking our city council to pass a resolution in support of the amendment,” said Wainberg.
With a record amount of money being poured into elections, such as the recent presidential election, many groups are working from the bottom up to try and bring the attention back to the Supreme Court’s decision and force congress to confront the issue.
“We need to bring it from the grass roots upward,” said Blake.
The meeting will also feature speakers from Move to Amend, the political group forming much of the drive behind the movement to get city councils to pass resolutions to amend.
“The public meeting is really the opportunity for community members to express their ideas, concerns, and beliefs on this issue,” said Wainberg. “We want everyone to have a voice.”