A $2 billion jury award against Monsanto’s Roundup, on behalf of a couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, should catch the attention of people all across Montana.

Rural or urban, rancher or homeowner, there are few people who haven’t used Roundup. How many were told “Safer than table salt”?

How many people had an underlying idea that, surely, our regulators would know the research, and, once they knew, would be able to do something about it?

Monsanto now may be facing over 13,000 lawsuits. How does this make sense? Why would this corporation bring this upon itself, and why would it decide to harm so many people?

This scenario should be familiar to Montanans, since asbestos lawsuits and our toxic Berkeley Pit have been constant reminders that big corporations are not rational team players who look to the future and to the logical outcome of their decisions on real people.

And, in fact, 75% of Montana voters, including a majority in every county, realized this and supported the constitutional amendment that would allow us to manage corporate behavior and preserve our authority to protect our state and nation by ending corporate personhood rights and ending money as speech. The amendment would also restore Montana’s election laws that were taken away by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Those corporate personhood rights were gradually acquired over the last 150 years, by using well-funded court cases that have allowed corporations to come in through the back door and win Constitutional rights that are rights intended for humans, not for them.

It is now difficult to manage corporations because they have become “super citizens” with constitutional rights like ours, plus the additional privileges we have given them, such as limited liability and unlimited lifetimes.

It is not by chance that it is difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate Monsanto. Besides the obvious influence that lobbyists and money in politics exert over the EPA, there is always the threat that corporations will use their “constitutional rights” and sue to prevent any regulations or to collect lost income.

But there is hope.

In the U.S. House, there is now a bill, House Joint Resolution 48, that calls for the amendment that says that “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only” and that artificial entities, such as corporations, “have no rights under this constitution and are subject to regulation by the People through Federal, State, and Local law.”

The amendment will also help us regulate corporations and protect our elections by saying that: “The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

At noon Tuesday, a group of constituents will meet with Rep. Greg Gianforte’s staff in Helena to ask him to become a co-sponsor of HJR 48 and will present a list of the 1,670 Montana petition signers among the 464,682 nationwide signers (sign at: movetoamend.org/motion). This effort is nonpartisan and includes Montanans Move to Amend.

We believe this constitutional amendment will benefit all political parties by removing the intimidation that big corporations and big money exert on our elections, lawmakers and regulators.

There are many aspects of our country that are being stifled. Rep. Gianforte has shown in his business life that he favors startups. We hope he will see that just as the marketplace benefits from having room for new ideas to succeed, our commonwealth will benefit from removing the calcifying weight of corporations and letting new ideas be heard.

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Sue Kirchmyer is a member of Montanans Move to Amend (contact:montana@movetoamend.org), Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, and Mission Valley Rising, a nonpartisan Lake County group.



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