Lunch With the Congressman

This week marks the second anniversary of a long-standing, if one-sided, lunch date between U.S. Rep. Richie Neal and a group of his constituents.

On Wed., Feb. 15, at noon, Progressive Democrats of America will hold its regular “brown bag lunch vigil” outside Neal’s Springfield office, at the new(ish) federal building at 300 State St. The group has been holding vigils on the third Wednesday of each month at Neal’s district office, and the offices of other members of Congress, to try to draw attention to its legislative agenda, and to get those officials on board with that agenda. PDA members are joined at the vigils by allies from the labor movement and other social- and economic-justice groups.

This month, the brown baggers are calling on the officials to support a number of bills including universal healthcare proposals from include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA); a funding proposal by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) for the withdrawal of troops and defense contractors from Afghanistan; and job-creation bills filed by Conyers and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Also on PDA’s agenda this month: the proposed constitutional amendment filed by Rep. Jim McGovern, of Massachusetts’ 3rd District, that would overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, by making clear that corporations do not have the same rights as individuals.

“We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons,” the proposed amendment reads. “The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.”

In a press release about the proposed amendment, McGovern said, “As any high school civics student knows, the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution are ‘We the People.’ Corporations are not people. They do not breathe. They do not have children. They do not die in war. They are artificial entities which we the people create and, as such, we govern them, not the other way around.

“The Citizens United ruling marks the most extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine which has eroded our First Amendment and our Constitution,” McGovern continued. “Now is the time for a 28th Amendment that lifts up the promise of American self-government: of, for, and by the people.”

Due to the recent Congressional redistricting. McGovern—assuming he wins re-election this fall—will represent a number of communities that have been in Neal’s 2nd District for years, perhaps most notably, the generally progressive-minded city of Northampton.

Author: On Springfield

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