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NM Protest of Citizens United Ruling at Albuquerque Fed'l. Court

January 19, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A march in the Duke City on Friday is part of a national Day of Action that stretches from Bangor, Maine to San Diego, Calif. It marks the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court "Citizens United" decision and what it has come to represent.

The ruling has generated more than 100 grassroots challenges to the idea that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals. For some, the events are part of an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution. However, that is something Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico, considers dangerous.

"Any time you talk about amending the Constitution, it's a perilous venture - but more so when you're talking about amending what is arguably the most important citizen right, which is that of free speech."

While Simonson acknowledges concerns about the influence of big money in the electoral system, he supports other methods for addressing the effects of "Citizens United." One he suggests is putting a more rigorous public financing program in place for political campaigns.

"There could be further requirements to disclose the sources of contributions. There are ways of expanding mass communications oversight."

Tom Dent, event coordinator for Albuquerque's "Occupy the Courts" day of action, says the march and open mic at the federal courthouse are part of an effort to educate the public.

"This is the start of work on the local level. We plan to work with Albuquerque city councilors to get a local resolution passed."

Dent says additional efforts are under way to convince members of the New Mexico Legislature to consider a similar resolution opposing the "Citizens United" decision.

The march on Friday starts from Robinson Park at 11:30 a.m. and ends at the Pete Domenici Federal Courthouse with a rally until 3 p.m.

Beth Blakeman, Public News Service - NM