Archive 2008 - 2019

Vote No on Holliston's Question 5.

by Marty Lamb

 The question asks. "should the state rep from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that (1) rights protected under the U. S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only and (2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?"

First of all, no elected official should be allowed this unilateral decision making authority. I am aware of the petition process to get something on the ballot, however, amendments to the U. S. Constitution should not be taken so lightly that they are introduced or "accepted" four weeks before an election without allowing the public to vet the issue, discuss and debate. This is not about political spending or it would clearly define what that is in the proposed amendment. The political spending restriction is nothing more than a means to an end. The true objective of passing this is to silence dissent using incremental restrictions on our most sacred freedom.

There are two reasons that our legislators are eager to pass this quickly. The first being the decision that came down from the Supreme Court on Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n, which  was not a popular one for those that wish to restrict free speech.  To recap, corporations, consisting of virtual, natural persons have the same free speech rights as one living, breathing individual person. Political spending is considered political speech and political speech falls under the safety of free speech.  Virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money. This amendment would give Congress the unlimited power to dictate different spending limits for different "organizations" or "entities".  The most integrity challenged people in Congress would be able to decide what is or isn't "appropriate speech".

The second reason our legislators are eager to pass this is that they do not want the public to be able to process and digest the reasoning behind this proposal. The only thing a sitting politicians fears more than losing their seat is an informed citizenry. Advocates for this amendment are more comfortable not having to explain their motives, they see accountability as optional and falsely claim that this would "level the playing field".  The proposed amendment would protect incumbents, and would jeopardize the ability of citizens to criticize politicians, challenge government policy and influence their neighbor's views on politics and policy upon penalty of imprisonment.  Members of Congress could decide what citizens may or may not say leading up to an election.

The question on the ballot is focused on giving one politician the unchallenged opportunity to pave the way for taking an eraser to the First Amendment. Notice that the question is not written to say "...instructed to vote opposed or in favor of...". Since the First Congress there have been more than 11,000 proposed amendments to the U. S. Constitution and only 27 have been ratified. There is a reason for that.

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..."

Vote No on question 5.

Comments (32)

I am not sure how to respond to that. I will assume that this is an individual who felt the need to rant about perfect storms and socialism although I do not see any connection to the article. If you are willing to defend or debate any of the points made in the article, I will be more than happy to engage.

Sean | 2014-11-03 15:24:13

"The screamers on the right are at it again. "Our rights are being trampled; it's a conspiracy of the left; we are the ones fighting for truth, justice and the American Way." Throw in that bogey man Socialism to scare the populace, and the "perfect storm" is created. I would like to remind folks that Mr. Lamb, the author of this piece, is the same person who brought a complaint against Ms Dykema to the state Ethics Commission when he ran against her 2 years ago. Why? Because she accepted gifts from local businesses to give out as raffle prizes at her annual senior citizens picnic. Classy. Be wary of anything this person writes."

Art | 2014-11-03 06:51:41

You nailed it Marty, perfectly stated

Sean | 2014-11-02 15:42:01

How is this article a mischaracterization, please enlighten us with facts not your misguided opinion.The people had nothing to do with this question being on the ballot. One individual, usually a politician pushes to start a petition to get it on the ballot. He or she simply needs 200 signatures, which is as simple as getting his/her campaign supporters. how many people in this district do you think knew this question was even on the ballot, my guess is less than 5 %. It always amazes me that the hollow argument the YES supporters give on this is always the that of the rich, evil private sector corporations that influence elections with their money. Not once do they ever bring up the donations of powerful union that have proven consistently that dollars are unlimited. What say you on unions and other "corporation" equivalents. The hypocracy is so obvious and the logic so flawed, that the advocates for shredding the 1st Amendment in the name of fair elections is nothing short of laughable.

Sean Slater | 2014-11-02 15:22:53

the claim is made that this would not apply to media as they have freedom of the press rights. May I ask where in "(1) rights protected under the U. S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only and (2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending" it states what Constitutional rights a corporation may of may not have? Is there a difference set worth in this ballot question as to what parts of the 1st amendment ot applies to and which it doesn't? What about 4th amendment rights, is a business no longer to be afforded rights against search & seizure? The ballot question is clear that the intent is ALL rights. Futhermore, where does it distinguish between the "press" and other corporations? I see no distinction made between the New York Times Corp and Koch Industries, no distinction between Monsanto and the mom & pop small business down the street from you. At best this is poorly drafted and needs a redo. At worst, the vagueness is intentional and even more so a reason to defeat this question.

marty lamb | 2014-11-02 13:04:38

Ah, okay. I thought it was bizarre for you to just pull that out of nowhere; now it makes more sense. NH Rebellion is another effort to reform the way money dominates our political process. They're trying to raise the issue of our corrupted system and make it a topic that candidates have to address when they flock to NH for presidential primary season. I've gone up there to participate in a couple of their events. I think it's a great project. But no, I live here in MA. How about my responses to the questions you raised - did they help clear anything up? Not that I expect you to change your whole opinion of the question, just wondering if you wanted to respond to any of them instead of continuing to deflect. At the very least, it would be nice just to get an admission that your claim that "our legislators are eager to pass this" is just your assumption, and doesn't actually reflect the reality that this is a citizen-led effort to try to get the attention of our legislators.

Taylor Gaar | 2014-11-02 12:02:56

Taylor, maybe there is someone else using your name affiliated with NH Rebellion,writing and advocating for the same issue of taking away Constitutional rights.

Marty Lamb | 2014-11-02 11:40:39

Heavy hitter from NH? What on earth are you talking about? I'm a Massachusetts middle school teacher, and I work as a volunteer on this issue in my spare time because like most Americans, I can see how broken our political process is, and I can see how money is the root of the dysfunction. Nice to meet you. What do you do? I could just make something up out of whole cloth about you, like you did about me, but I try to avoid that kind of thing. As for leaving the regulation of election financing to Congress and the states, while that may sound radical to you, it's how things have worked for a lot longer than you or I have been alive. Rulings like Citizens United have invalidated a century of laws passed through the democratic process, to protect the democratic process, at the state and federal level. An amendment's purpose is not to narrowly prescribe what campaign finance regulations should be; it's to allow us as a society to debate the proper solutions and work them out through the political process. The Supreme Court has made that impossible. The questions you want answers to are important to raise and discuss, but the text of the ballot question is not the place to do that. We can get into those kinds of details here, since the question has sparked this discussion in a public forum, as it's meant to do. Media activities are covered by the freedom of the press; media companies don't need special corporate constitutional rights to function freely. Unions, just like other types of incorporated entities, would no longer have constitutional rights themselves. Their members would continue to have all the rights they have always had, as human beings. In some cases, a corporation or union might be the appropriate "person" to go to court on behalf of its members - this is what happened in a case where the NAACP challenged a law that required it to hand over its membership rolls in Mississippi. The NAACP didn't need its own constitutional rights; it had standing to assert the rights of its members, because the law threatened their privacy and their safety. As for the S-corp vs. dba question, you have rights as an individual, regardless. Your choice to incorporate provides you with business and tax advantages, and it doesn't change your rights one way or the other. Just because questions like this aren't somehow addressed within the text of the question doesn't mean that you need to assume there's some nefarious agenda behind it. And finally, I didn't mean to be presumptuous; while you didn't at all acknowledge my main point to you, which was that the question wasn't put on the ballot by elected officials, you are correct that what I should have said is "The question is on the ballot because citizens put it there, in order to give their representative a sense of how her/his constituents feel about the idea of a democracy amendment."

Taylor Gaar | 2014-11-02 11:10:11

Taylor, I feel honored that the heavy hitter activist from NH has been called in to add in more double speak spin. You, like the others, avoid the real issue. The real issue is that your ballot question leaves the limitations of what is and what isn't acceptable freedom of speech. You leave it open to state legislatures and Congress to decide. That is the danger of such a radical over reach into our liberties. If your real agenda is to limit the influence of big money into politics show a proposed Constitutional amendment that has the actual language and we can discuss it on the merits. Until that is done the open ended vague language would give our elected officials and open invitation to go as far as they want. Too many open ended questions such as how would corporations who are involved in media be treated? Are unions "people"? If I am a sole propitiatory business would my tax stratus of S Corp give me less rights that if I file as a dba? Failure to lay any of this out in the ballot question makes me believe there is a much deeper agenda and based upon the organizations backing this I have good reason to have such a belief BTW, it is very presumptuous of you to assume it will be Rep Dykema this is addressed to, we do have an election in a few days

Marty Lamb | 2014-11-02 08:17:28

Dianna has done a beautiful job of explaining why Marty's post is a complete mischaracterization of this question and its consequences. I just want to underscore that Marty's repeated assertion that this question is somehow being pushed by elected officials in order to increase their power is absolute nonsense. The question is on the ballot because citizens put it there, in order to give Rep. Dykema a sense of how her constituents feel about the idea of a democracy amendment, although Sean seems confused about how non-binding ballot questions work. Also, for what it's worth, Sean's definition of dangerous and illegitimate seems to be anyone who doesn't share his ideology. That kind of thinking isn't helping us solve the problems we face as a nation. Fortunately, though, he'll be just as free as ever to keep espousing those unproductive views if the democracy movement succeeds in amending the Constitution. Despite his fears, no one would have the power to send him to jail for being close-minded.

Taylor Gaar | 2014-11-01 23:16:24

I struggle with this one. My post is serious in concept and a little tongue and cheek. I am certain that a corporation is not a person. However, many assume that means I believe that Government should be able to restrict business however it wants whenever it wants, and this not the case. Corporations represent people and the Government should not treat corporations in a manner that is contradictory to the constitution. This is a given, no? Here is my suggestion for campaign finance reform: allow legal US voters to donate as much money as they want to whoever they want. I believe this is protected by our Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association. Furthermore, a law should require that all political donors and amounts must be disclosed and readily available to voters on-line, paid for by the candidates. List the true donors, not a group (eliminate PACS and all similar hiding places) or just a corporation or company name. If a corporation the officers and major shareholders must be disclosed along with entity name. Citizens should be able to donate as much as they want and it all should be 100% transparent with no question as to who is trying to buy who and who is accepting it. Give immediate release access to the AP, Fox News, MSDNC, WSJ Newspaper, TMZ, The Inquirer, and all media outlets. Our 24/7/365 new age media will review, investigate, and understand the disclosures and hammer candidates. It is not only "right" in my opinion, given that people will be free to do whatever they want with their money and the source will be disclosed for all to easily see, I think it will reduce campaign donations people will be able to follow the money easily on-line and all major media outlets will cover it. Any thoughts? | 2014-11-01 19:34:20

Just some information: There is strong National and Bipartisan support for a Democracy Amendment. 83% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, and 81% of Independents oppose the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v FEC. And 66% of businesses believe that Citizens United is bad for business. And already 16 states have called for a constitutional amendment to restore democracy. If you are questioning these statistics, please take the time to listen to the comments from SENATOR JOHN Mc CAIN on this matter. Go to:

Elaine Doyle | 2014-11-01 14:18:52

In any corporation, which is comprised of many individuals, if you were to ask the same question of each individual, you would most likely get a variety of answers, or "votes" The only way that all the answers would be the same would be if the corporate leader(s) ordered all of their workers to give the same response. Corporations are not people, they are aggregates of many individuals who have the right to vote as they see fit.

Little old me | 2014-11-01 07:40:37

I'm voting YES. Every comment on here should be represented by a duly elected official and a Congress that actually meets, and that works together to represent its living breathing citizens. I do not want billionaires or special interests on either side to buy the decisions that are made in my name and with my tax dollars. I want representatives who will come back to their real district, see the real world, and vote their conscience for their real-live constituents, who have to live with the real consequences.

Unenrolled | 2014-11-01 06:50:42

I think it is admirable that people are volunteering and being active getting signatures but let's stay grounded because it only required 200 to get it on the ballot. We received 216,000 sigs to get the "repeal the gas tax" on the ballot. Also to keep referencing MoveTo Amend is doing nothing to support your argument. I would politely ask that in order to keep the debate going we establish at least an ounce of credibility. MoveToAmend is not new and has a disturbing history, even my very passionate Democrat friends who never give me an inch on anything agree that MoveToAmend is off the grid extreme. | 2014-10-31 20:06:35

Read the opinion handed down in Citizen vs United, it states verbatim that corporations consist of a collection of virtual natural citizens. Are they not? Are you saying because I make up the collective of a corporation that I am not an individual citizen? I must be a cyborg then. So Diane are you saying that billionaire interests do not manipulate democrat organizations? I think that is extremely naive. Some of the most influential political donors are democrat supporters. I am simply calling out the obvious agenda of MoveToAmend. They are looking to alter the First Amendment the Tea Party is not. I agree that corporations are not alive and that constitutional rights belong to natural citizens. You are missing the point however. Why should an amendment be adopted to redefine what free speech is. I do not mind how we redefine what a corporation is but until somebody can prove to me that the specific wording of the amendment (not the resolution) will guarantee me the freedom of speech Regardless of my affiliation, political or corporate, then I will never submit. I have posted 4 articles an 16 comments on this but not one YES vote supporter has justified the wording of the ballot question.

Sean slater | 2014-10-31 19:51:51

You Say "To recap, corporations, consisting of virtual, natural persons have the same free speech rights as one living, breathing individual person". What are virtual natural persons? This is so wrong it is frightening!

bob mcgrath | 2014-10-31 18:39:47

I'm perplexed as to why it matters when the initiative started. It's actually sort of inspiring that a group of hardworking volunteers could gather enough signatures to get this on the ballot in just a few weeks. We stood outside, talked to people, explained the initiative, passed out information cards, etc. I even wrote an article, and had discussions online. We enjoyed a great deal of popular support. Besides, here have been years of similar ballot initiatives and resolutions passed all over the country, and many in Massachusetts as well. This petition is just one among hundreds as we grow support for getting big money out of politics (see

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 18:08:18

Sean, you are probably right: I suppose is one of the most dangerous liberal (in the sense of pro-democratic) movements in the country, but dangerous to whom? The billionaire interests that have carefully created, crafted, and continues to manipulate the Tea Party and the right-wing for profit? But there are plenty of conservatives who don't like big corporations pairing up with government to spy on them, for example, or who want union election spending to be regulated. Also, this is apparently a confusing point...again, no actual, living, breathing person will lose any constitutional rights, whether they are or are not a part of any sort of corporation. Those rights are birthrights. Inherent. You get them by being born a citizen. The corporation itself is not alive...that's different. So this amendment would NOT in any way "jeopardize the ability of citizens to criticize politicians...on penalty of imprisonment." That is just incorrect. Members of Congress could NOT decide what citizens may say. Where are you getting this from?

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 17:48:35

Vote No

Sean Slater | 2014-10-31 15:21:15

First of all, this was first introduced as a ballot question only 4 weeks ago in Franklin. We actually tracked the petition process which started more than 4 weeks ago. The discussion may have been going on for the last 2 years but the article is accurate in addressing the timing as far as the ballot question is concerned. You also reference movetoamend,,one of the most dangerously liberal movements in the country. Go to their website and take a look at their sponsors, the last thing they are concerned with is a democratic Republic. I am guessing that folks might think twice about referencing a movement who has Socialists of America as one of their key endorsers, that is if they want to keep some credibility. Also, you mention that the question simply asks Rep Dykema to recommend a pro democracy constitutional amendment. That is not accurate, rep Dykema is actually being given sole authority to "favor" a Resolution" on behalf of her entire district. Having a question framed this way so it purposely excludes the other side of the argument is dishonest and biased. If you can't include " or opposed" then the pro democracy element you reference is no longer relevant. The last thing I will say is yes corporations are legal entities but it has already been established that corporations are made up of individual natural persons so contributions, political or charitable should not be limited. The argument about which party benefits is completely irrelevant. This is nothing more than a gateway amendment that would be used as a tool for abuse by the party in power. There are 40 senators that have already got on board with this assault on our First Amendment. These cowards are salivating at the thought of pushing this through with the long term objective of imposing restrictions on our most sacred freedom. Can you imagine the likes of mental midgets like Harry Reid deciding what your fine is for criticizing him in the next Town Hall meeting? I am exaggerating to make a point. If you do anything Tuesday , VOTE NO on 5 if not for yourself, for the preservation of our Contitution.

Sean Slater | 2014-10-31 15:15:00

Count me as one who will be voting YES. Corporations already have too much influence in this country, and it's time to knock them down a notch. It's important to note that this change in no way affects the rights of human persons. Corporations are not human and they can't vote (a good thing, too). Corporate spending adversely affects the rights of the individual, because they have far more money available to them.

Peter | 2014-10-31 10:54:29

Thank you Dianna for informing our citizenry with your very clear explanation of Question 5. A YES vote on this question will be the first step in restoring our democracy.

Ellen | 2014-10-31 10:11:35

An interesting "race" to watch for all of us is question 1 next Tuesday. The ballot question was put on the ballot by all grass roots signatures, no paid gatherers of organizations helping. (last time that was done in MA was to eliminate dog racing). The committee supporting the question has raised well under $100,000 in mostly personal donations. The opposition has raised over $2 million from "non-people" such as AAA, the construction industries, labor unions, asphalt companies as well as many PACs. Right now the grass roots "yes" is polling about 3 points up (Boston Globe poll. Can the "people" win over corporate self interests?

Marty Lamb | 2014-10-31 08:53:56

Susan I had hoped this post would stick to just the issue at hand, the ballot question but you opened it up to accusations of false information. I have asked this of others and never received an answer, maybe you can enlighten me. Exactly what roll call vote information on the mailers from either Mass Fiscal or the Chris Egan PAC is false and therefore "lies"? You may not like the fact that Carolyn's voting record is being exposed,but her votes set forth in the mailers are accurate and a matter of public record. Maybe this is why she consistently has voted against making committee votes public, breaking her campaign promise to vote for posting such votes online in the 2012 Hopkinton Cable debate.

Marty Lamb | 2014-10-31 08:20:34

Ted, "...being able to express your thoughts and feelings on a political issue should not be a crime against election law and Citizen's United upholds that right." I understand the importance and the reverence for the 1st amendment, but as I explained, this amendment would NOT stifle your free speech, or anyone who is a real living person's free speech. A corporation is not a "your" or a person: it is a legal fiction. Regulating campaign spending is not stifling free speech, because money is not speech, but an amplifier for it. This Democracy amendment would allow Congress to regulate corporate election spending and regulate the big money that floods campaigns, buys off politicians, and stifles the voice of ordinary citizens. You, as an actual breathing person, would be even more free to have your thoughts and feelings heard without being rendered insignificant by legislators who only listen to their big donors. "...analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 08:20:23

Dianna You are correct that this is only a non-binding "opinion" vote and nothing more, but in my opinion it is relaying a very dangerous message. If it does pass, Rep Vanaria has no obligation to do anything relating to advance the yet to be drafted Constitutional amendment. In reality, given the process of amending the Constitution, we all know this will never happen in our lifetime. You are absolutely wrong in assuming that such a Constitutional amendment will not affect other rights under the 1st amendment such as freedom of the press. Last time I checked, the Boston Globe was incorporated. Do you want Congress (don't forget that it is possible to have a Republican controlled House, Senate & White House) to have such wide powers? You have your opinion which you posted and I will fight to protect your right to express that opinion, please allow me the same courtesy for my post.

Marty Lamb | 2014-10-31 08:05:44

I agree with Marty. Q5 should be voted down. Telling a legislator to pursue a general idea without specifics is never a good idea in my opinion. Regardless of such, I firmly believe that this would stifle free speech. It is not necessarily just about corporate donations, but being able to express your thoughts and feelings on a political issue should not be a crime against election law and Citizen's United upholds that right.

Ted Dooley | 2014-10-31 07:42:40

I agree with Marty that "The only thing a sitting politicians fears more than losing their seat is an informed citizenry." However, we have come to a point where money is deciding whether people will hear "facts" or distortions, and how often they will hear them. One recent case in point is the set of mailings sent out with false information about Rep Carolyn Dykema's record. My work is teaching what could be called "critical thinking" and I can attest that more and more people are simply swallowing the lies that are out there posing as "information." Money controlling information destroys an informed citizenry. I agree with Dianna's statement: "The difference would be that a corporation itself, as a legal fiction, would no longer have constitutional rights as if it were a person and would be subject to reasonable campaign finance laws and other reasonable laws democratically enacted to protect the public."

Susan | 2014-10-31 07:26:40

One last point, and I'll let the rest go. The doctrine of corporate constitutional personhood is one part of the problem of corruption in government. The doctrine of money-as-free-speech is another. Yes, money is clearly the fuel for spreading political speech. That's why I advocate for the public funding of political campaigns, so that politicians will be beholden to--and govern for--the public. But no, money is not speech. If you say that money is the same as speech, you are saying that whomever has the most money, has the most speech. That conflation of money-as-speech is fundamentally anti-democratic. The argument that unlimited money in elections stifles free speech is actually more persuasive, especially when you consider the millions of dark, or unsourced, money in campaigns. Both parties benefit from truly stupendous amounts of money, lots of it dark, but the GOP benefits from the greatest share of it by far. You will find that Republicans tend to be the most opposed to this pro-democracy, anti-corruption effort, because they are most beholden to the very wealthiest special interests. Not that I'm happy about how Democrats have become complicit. It's more than a partisan issue, though. It's about whether or not we will have a democracy, or an oligarchy.

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 06:55:12

I have to do this in chunks due to space limitations within comments, if the Reporter will indulge me. Some other points: This proposed amendment would in no way stifle the free speech of actual living people. Those people who are part of corporations, like CEOs, workers, union members, those who run non-profits, etc. everyone would still exercise their protected free speech rights as always. The media is protected by the 1st amendment specifically. The difference would be that a corporation itself, as a legal fiction, would no longer have constitutional rights as if it were a person and would be subject to reasonable campaign finance laws and other reasonable laws democratically enacted to protect the public. It would have other (non-constitutional) "personhood" rights and responsibilities.

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 06:27:13

Marty, thanks for your response to this ballot question, but unfortunately there are many points of logical confusion in your article. It's understandable: this is a tough topic that took me a while to absorb. Most importantly, people should know that Question 5 is non-binding, and it simply asks Rep. Dykema to recommend a pro-democracy amendment to Congress. Voting YES in no way an adoption of any constitutional amendment. This question proposes two important principles for the amendment, and is not the precise wording of any actual amendment. We are educating the public about corruption and building legislative support for an amendment. That is all. Adopting a constitutional amendment is incredibly arduous as designed by the Framers. We are just in the beginning stages. This movement has been building for years, BTW, and discussed for years...not 4 weeks before an election. See for more information.

Dianna Vosburg | 2014-10-31 06:17:36