The TN State Senate: Pass A Constitutional Amendment To Ban Citizens United In Tennessee
  • Petitioning Constitutionally Ban Citizens United in Tennessee

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Constitutionally Ban Citizens United in Tennessee

The TN State Senate: Pass A Constitutional Amendment To Ban Citizens United In Tennessee

    1. John Watts
    2. Petition by

      John Watts

      Nashville, TN

Citizens United is a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to donate unchecked and undisclosed amounts of money to politicians, political candidates, and political campaigns in the United States which allows those corporations to influence how our government operates giving them an unfair advantage to sway votes and elections for their own financial benefit.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)

In short, the ruling states that corporations are people (corporate personhood) and therefore have the same constitutional rights as every other American citizen like you or me.

The Citizens United ruling is a direct threat to our democracy, to our rights, and to our freedoms. Our votes do not matter when politicians can be bought and traded like stock. Our voices are not heard by ears that are plugged with corporate handouts. The will of ‘We The People’ is ignored so that the will of the few can be freely inflicted on the public. That is NOT what democracy looks like.

There are currently proposals going before the Senate and House of Representatives to adopt constitutional amendments that would put an end to Citizens United federally.

While this is encouraging news and I highly recommend supporting the above proposals, individual states do not always do what the federal government says. Hence one of the reasons we have two constitutions.

The Constitution of The United States of America, and the Constitution of The State of Tennessee.

This petition seeks to ensure that our elected officials here in the state of Tennessee do not have an opportunity to exploit legal loops holes or hide behind our state constitution as an excuse for not abiding by a federal ruling in the form of an amendment to the constitution of the state of Tennessee.


‘We The People of The State of Tennessee, by way of signed petition, hereby demand that the Tennessee Senate and House adopt the following amendment to the Constitution of The State of Tennessee either by direct action or by way of the Constitutional Convention’*

`Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Tennessee to clarify the authority of Congress and the State to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of the state of Tennessee, the United States, or any foreign state.

It is hereby proposed by the citizens of the state of Tennessee (by way of an open public petition) That the following article is adopted as an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Tennessee which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee when ratified by the legislature:


`Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution of the State of Tennessee intend the rights protected by this Constitution of the State of Tennessee to be the rights of natural persons, scientifically classified as Homo-Sapiens, also racially classified as Human Beings.

`Section 2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution of the State of Tennessee do not and shall not at any time for any reason include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate and/or business entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the State under this Constitution of the State of Tennessee.

`Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the peoples rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

`Section 4. The citizens of the state of Tennessee, through their elected State and Federal representatives, shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State and Federal elections, including through setting limits on--

`(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State or Federal office; and

`(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

`Section 5. The citizens of the state of Tennessee, through their elected State and Federal representatives, shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.’


*The proposed amendment should be seen as a living document. A public discussion space is being sought so that the citizens of Tennessee can openly discuss this amendment and propose changes to improve it.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 250 signatures
    2. How A Republican Appeals Court Just Made Citizens United Even Worse

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      "One of the few silver linings on the Supreme Court’s election-buying decision
      in Citizens United was its holding that — although corporations are now free to spend as much money as they want to elect their preferred candidates — such spending could still be subject to disclosure laws so long as those laws bear a “substantial relation” to “‘providing the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending.” The most Republican federal court of appeals in the country just wiped away much of this silver lining, however, striking down a Minnesota law requiring corporations seeking to buy elections to register their political fund and make regular public disclosures of its activities."


    3. Chance to Vote on Citizens United!? Yes, This November!

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      This is certainly great news! In November we will have the ability to vote to overturn citizens united. Whether that will include a constitutional amendment or not is yet to be seen, but is obviously the preferable way of dealing with this ruling.


      What does that mean for this petition to ban citizens united in Tennessee? It means that we have an opportunity to take care of the problem at the federal level, however it still needs to be banned at the state level. As many of you are aware states don't always obey what the federal government hands down, hence the reason each state has its own constitution as a way to contest the federal governments rulings.

      When I started this petition it was in hopes of supporting the effort on the federal level. Now it seems as if the effort on the federal level is going to help support the effort at the state level.

    4. The Fed Audit - Yet More Reasons To Constitutionally Ban Citizens United

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      The recent findings of the Fed audit are yet more proof that Citizens United should be constitutionally banned in all states. From Senator Bernie Sanders' website ( Full Story: )

      "The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. "As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world," said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.""

    5. Update about A Constitutional Amendment To Ban Citizens United In Tennessee

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      Forward progress!
      Today I sat down and began drafting what will eventually be the proposal for a constitutional ban to citizens united in the state of TN. As I stated before it pulls heavily from the two proposals that have been presented to the United States Senate, though reverse-engineered to be implemented at the state level.
      With the initial draft in the works I'm working on getting together with our legal adviser, Tripp, this week so that we can hash out the legalese to make sure what we are putting forward is fairly rock solid. There will of course be an opportunity for public input and I certainly want to be able to hear from each of you on your ideas and/or concerns. This is a decision that affects us all, therefore all of us should have the opportunity to have our voices heard in this matter.
      We still have a very long way to go so please don't let up. Keep spreading this petition to others, educate them on why this is so important not only for us but gravely so for our future

    6. Reached 100 signatures
    7. Citizens united against Citizens United decision

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      Imagine you discover that our nation is being taken over by alien super-beings. These beings are immortal, there is no limit on how wealthy they can be, and their sole purpose is to make money. Imagine further that you discover that one of the branches of our federal government has said to these beings: “Help yourselves. This nation is yours.”

      Would you be alarmed? Would you think that we ought to defend ourselves?

      I am speaking of corporations and unions and the frightening power to corrupt our political process that was handed to them by the radical decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC. The effects of this case are now rippling — no, that's too mild a word; let's say tsunami-ing — through our political system.

      Not everyone is worried. Here's what candidate Mitt Romney has to say about these super-beings: “Corporations are people, my friend. … Of course, they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes?

    8. Upton Town Meeting to consider Citizens United ruling

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      The town won't have to hold a special Town Meeting to consider the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, but the matter will be on the warrant for the regular November session.

      On Tuesday, it appeared as if the town would be obligated to hold a Town Meeting to consider a non-binding vote on a constitutional amendment to counteract the court's Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ruling, as a citizen had filed a petition requesting it.

      The ruling determined that First Amendment protections apply to corporate and union political donations. Some fear the ruling opens the way to unlimited donations - and influence - by corporations over state and national elections.

      The matter briefly caused a stir at Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, as it appeared the town would be forced to hold a meeting within 45 days on that single issue.

    9. Montana Supreme Court removes tax rebate, allows corporate personhood

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      In separate rulings Friday, the Montana Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling to strike a tax rebate referendum from the November ballot, but rejected an attempt to remove a campaign finance initiative.

      Here was the outcome after the court’s actions:

      • Off the ballot: Legislative Referendum 123, which would have provided for automatic tax credits – dollar-for-dollar reductions in tax liability – to individual income taxpayers and individual property owners if the state general fund budget surplus hit certain triggers.

      • On the ballot: Initiative 166, a nonbinding policy statement that would direct the state’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to say that corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech.

      In the LR-123 case, the Supreme Court issued a brief order affirming District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena, who found the ballot measure unconstitutional.

    10. Reached 50 signatures
    11. The Senate is listening. Time to speak up!

      John Watts
      Petition Organizer

      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012, the U.S. Senate held its first-ever hearing on the need for a constitutional amendment to over-rule the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which said corporations have the same constitutional rights as people -- so they can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. The result is a flood of secret money, drowning out the voices of real people. This is not democracy, and we’ve got to do something about it. Amending the constitution is the only way to over-rule a Supreme Court decision. Now is the moment to tell your Senators that you support amending the constitution to put America in the hands of We the People.

      Specifically, we support 2 amendments: H.J. Res. 88, which makes it clear that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as people; ( )

      And S.J. Res. 29, which reclaims our authority, through Congress and the states, to get the money out of politics. ( )

    12. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Eric Olberding KNOXVILLE, TN
      • over 1 year ago

      It's a misappropriation of funds. Corporations are collections of people, but that collection's main purpose is to provide goods and services for profit. Each member of the corporation works toward this end and each member contributes to the overall profit levels of the corporation, but only a few executive higher ups decide how to allocate this money. This is fine as long as that allocation is geared toward the whole goods & services aspect, but when funding is allocated toward political leaders that each member of the corporation(whom all contribute to its overall profits) may have not agreed with supporting, it becomes a misappropriation of funds produced by all in the corporation. In a sense it would be the same as me founding a group called "Second Amendment Rights" and then spending user donations on pro-abortion campaigning. Obviously that was not what the members of the group came together to do or support. Obviously aggregates of people in corporations do not come together in the forming of that corporation to influence politics, they come together to provide goods & services for profit. I doubt in employee contracts it says, "we can use the profit created by you to influence national and local politics to your detriment, by signing this you are agreeing to have your influence on the electoral process lessened."

      • almost 2 years ago

      Money is root of all evil and currently decides our elected officals.

    • Henriett Crawford FT MYERS, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      To get back to normalcy, where people count, and not corporations

    • Lori Mize KNOXVILLE, TN
      • almost 2 years ago

      The voices of big corporate donors must not be louder than the voices of the people. Elected officials must live in terror of the will of big monied donors because of the capacity to be destoryed by smear advertising campaigns. These issue ads can be as misleading as they want to be and the target audience has no way of knowing who is behind any of the falsehoods that may be spread. Stop misleading the people. No corporate money should be allowed in any elections.

    • Jessica Marsh NASHVILLE, TN
      • about 2 years ago

      Because Money does not equal free speech,and we are NOT meant to be a plutocracy.


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