Professor Piety joins new legal initiative to fight 'Citizens United'

Friday, September 20, 2013

Source: Free Speech For People press release (September 2013)


Tamara Piety, the Phyllis Hurley Frey Professor of Law at The University of Tulsa College of Law, is joining a new Legal Advocacy Program launched by Free Speech For People, a national non-partisan organization working to overturn Citizens United v. FEC. The advisory committee is composed of respected law professors, former judges, and attorneys from across the country.

The initiative seeks to restore Constitutional jurisprudence based on human, rather than corporate rights, and republican citizenship rather than unlimited money in politics. Free Speech For People announced the new program on Constitution Day (September 17th) which commemorates the two hundred and twenty sixth anniversary of the signing of the Constitution at the conclusion of the 1787 Convention in Philadelphia.

Professor Piety stated: “While Citizens United is the most well-known case of 'corporate free speech,' the problem of the courts treating corporations as full citizens with robust First Amendment rights goes well beyond elections and campaign finance. What started as a limited grant of protection for commercial speech has turned into an all-purpose weapon against laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives for consumer protection, safe food and drugs, security of financial markets, and reliability of information in the marketplace.”

The new initiative will engage in advocacy and public education to push back in the courts against the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and the fabricated doctrine of corporate constitutional rights and to advance corporate charter reform in the states. The program also will serve as a legal resource for the growing movement for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.

The Advisory Committee will work with Free Speech For People co-founders John Bonifaz, who serves as Executive Director, and Jeff Clements, who serves as Board Chair and President and is the author of Corporations Are Not People (with a foreword by Bill Moyers) (Berrett-Koehler, 2012).

“Americans across the political spectrum know that “corporate rights” and unlimited money in our elections are wrong, and are coming together to ensure that Citizens United will not stand. We are grateful to see so many outstanding legal experts and jurists join in this work to renew our democracy of free and equal citizens,” says Clements. 

Bonifaz added: “In the face of new efforts by global corporations since Citizens United to strike down public interest laws on ‘corporate speech’ grounds, we look forward to defending in court that fundamental principle of American self-government: of, by, and for the people.”

The Free Speech For People Legal Advocacy Program is the latest addition to the expanding challenges to the 2010 Citizens United decision, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that struck down longstanding campaign finance laws and opened the door to unlimited spending by corporations, unions, and the super-wealthy.

Members of the Legal Advocacy Committee include:

  • Lawrence Anderson, Montana trial attorney and member of the Board of Governors of the American Association of Justice
  • David Ciepley, Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow, Princeton University, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Denver
  • John Coates, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School 
  • Lisa Danetz, Senior Counsel, Demos
  • James Exum, Jr, former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
  • Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society
  • Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy
  • Daniel Greenwood, Professor of Law, Hofstra Law School
  • Thomas Joo, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis, School of Law
  • Cyrus Mehri, Founding Partner, Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.
  • Robert A.G. Monks, Author, Founder, Lens Governance Advisors
  • James Nelson, former Justice of the Montana Supreme Court
  • Eva Paterson, Co-Founder and President, Equal Justice Society
  • Peter Pease, Founder, Law Offices of Peter Pease
  • Tamara Piety, the Phyllis Hurley Frey Professor of Law, The University of Tulsa College of Law
  • Jamie Raskin, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
  • Katie Redford, Co-Founder and Director, EarthRights International
  • Dale Rubin, Professor of Law, Appalachian School of Law
  • Steven Shiffrin, Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School
  • Jennifer Taub, Associate Professor of Law, Vermont Law School
  • Gerald Torres, Bryant Smith Chair in Law, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Law

About Free Speech For People
Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan organization, launched on the day of the US Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United, which works to challenge the misuse of corporate power and restore republican democracy to the people.  Free Speech For People has served as a catalyzing and leading force in the growing movement across the country for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy.  The organization has also played a leadership role in the courts by helping to defend Montana’s century-old law barring corporate money in elections, resulting in a victory before the Montana Supreme Court and the first test case on Citizens United to reach the US Supreme Court.

About the Movement to Overturn Citizens United
Sixteen states have formally called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and to restore democracy to the people.  In addition, nearly 500 cities, towns, and counties, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia have called for an amendment, and more than 2,000 elected officials nationwide are on record supporting one.