WV House resolution seeks to overturn Citizen's United - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV House resolution seeks to overturn Citizens United

Posted: Updated:
  • GovernmentGovernmentMore>>

  • WV Senate race firing up thanks to 'war on coal'

    WV Senate race firing up thanks to 'war on coal'

    Monday, July 28 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:29:34 GMT
    The race for West Virginia representation in the U.S. Senate is firing up, in more ways than one. In the first television advertisement released for the West Virginia Senate race, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant shuts off power to the White House.
    The race for West Virginia representation in the U.S. Senate is firing up, in more ways than one. In the first television advertisement released for the West Virginia Senate race, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant shuts off power to the White House.
  • Rep. Nick Rahall addresses need for Congress to 'act' on VA legislation

    Rep. Nick Rahall addresses need for Congress to 'act' on VA legislation

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:27 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:27:49 GMT
    U.S. Rep.Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said July 25 on the House floor leaders needed to come together and act to complete legislation that addresses shortfalls within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    U.S. Rep.Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said July 25 on the House floor leaders needed to come together and act to complete legislation that addresses shortfalls within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • West Virginia sees high rates of health insurance coverage

    West Virginia sees high rates of health insurance coverage

    Saturday, July 26 2014 10:00 AM EDT2014-07-26 14:00:27 GMT
    A new report done by Wallet Hub, a company whose motto is to focus on “financial decisions and saving money,” found only 6 percent of West Virginians do not have health insurance coverage.
    A new report done by Wallet Hub, a company whose motto is to focus on “financial decisions and saving money,” found only 6 percent of West Virginians do not have health insurance coverage.

The House of Delegates on March 28 took a step toward potentially overturning Citizens United.

Delegates voted 60-39 to adopt House Resolution 9, which calls on Congress to propose a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and related cases.

The 2010 case held provisions under the 1st Amendment prohibit government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. House Resolution 9 seeks to prevent corporations and unions from pouring money into primary and general elections at the sate and national level by asking Congress to repeal, though constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court's decision.

The debate in the House came down to philosophical differences — are corporations considered individuals and does the 1st Amendment apply to them? Well, that depends on who you ask.

Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, dusted off the history books and pointed out the Dutch East India Company, the first multi-national corporation, was created to do big business and had powers to declare war and to try, imprison and execute people. But, Ellem said, times have changed.

"It was a tool," he said. "Corporations existed before the 1st Amendment. They existed before our constitution. Since a corporation is a tool for commerce, I strongly believe being a tool we created, we have the power, we as the legislative body, and the Supreme Court has chimed in on it, but we have the right to impose restrictions."

But to Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, Citizen's United evened the playing field and created a system that is applicable to all Americans and anyone is allowed to present information to the voters.

"Citizens must be free to obtain information from all sources to make an informed decision when casting a vote," he said. "Having more speech, not less, in a political process is paramount to our democracy."

He went on to call HR 9 a "ridiculous resolution that prevents free speech."

Democrats who spoke on the issue pointed out the Supreme Court has been wrong in the past. Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell, said the Supreme Court was off-base when it ruled in the Dred Scott case that African-Americans cannot be citizens. That was decision was later reversed.

Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, said no elected officials like to be targeted by anonymous groups, so HR 9 allows the Legislature to react the only way it can.

"This is doing the only thing we know how to do when the Supreme Court bases a ruling on a constitutional principle," he said. "This is what we've got to do, and that's to change the constitution."