Tester slams growing corporate influence over Americans’ private lives

Senator fighting back against Hobby Lobby, Citizens United decisions

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) took to the Senate floor today to slam the U.S. Supreme Court for continuing to grant corporations the Constitutional rights guaranteed to individual Americans, calling the trend a “slippery slope to granting corporations greater power over our daily lives.”

“Affording corporations the same Constitutional rights to speech — and now to religion — that Montanans and all American people cherish is the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers envisioned,” Tester said. “This is not freedom, and it is un-American.”

Tester said the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision allows “nameless, faceless entities” to stand between a woman and her health care. Coming just four years after the court’s Citizens United decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited, secret amounts of money to influence elections, Tester said the court is handing Americans’ individual freedoms over to corporations.

“It’s no longer just about our democracy – it’s also about keeping corporations out of our private lives, out of our bedrooms, and out of our own religious decisions,” Tester said. “It’s an even bigger fight now.”

Tester is fighting back with a Constitutional amendment that would clarify that corporations are not people and therefore not protected by the same Constitutional rights as individual Americans. His amendment has seen increased support since the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows corporations to hold religious-based objections to providing insurance coverage for certain medical care.

“The First Amendment was meant to protect individuals’ religious freedoms, not those of corporations,” Tester said. “Now, the religious beliefs of corporations will dictate the health care options of people. Where does it end?”

In his speech, Tester highlighted how Montanans recognized the negative impact wealthy corporations were having on the electoral process more than 100 years ago, when voters chose to limit corporate influence in elections. But the Supreme Court used its 2010 Citizens United decision to overturn the century-old Montana law in 2012.

Tester’s full floor speech is available online HERE. Information about his Constitutional amendment, which is co-sponsored by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Walsh (D-Mont.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), is available online HERE.