Move To Amend Ten Year Anniversary

Liberty Tree Foundation

Ten years ago this week, The Washington Post drew its readers attention to a pending storm:

News conferences were scheduled and telephone briefings were penciled in, but Washington advocacy groups were disappointed yet again Wednesday: The Supreme Court did not issue its long-awaited decision on campaign finance laws.

This is a vigil of the kind to be found only in Washington. Legal groups, political parties and court-watchers have been waiting for months to learn whether the high court will uphold a ban on corporate spending on elections, or if instead it will open the gates to unlimited donations from well-financed companies and unions . . .

“There is great fear that the court will strike a serious blow against American democracy,” said Ben Manski, executive director of the Liberty Tree Foundation of Madison, Wis., which helped create the Move to Amend site. “There are reasons to be very concerned.”

Our fear were justified. A few days later, on January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court of The United States ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations are persons entitled to constitutional protection against election regulations.

On that same day, Liberty Tree and our partner announced the Move to Amend coalition coalition. Over the following months we mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country in rallies, online campaign, teach-ins, and conference. And we launched the first series of what has since become over 700 resolutions enacted by voters and their elected representatives at the local and state levels. The majority of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions that voted for resolutions supporting the We the People Amendment championed by Move to Amend and its partners.

So today Liberty Tree salutes the grassroots leadership of Move to Amend and the work that so many have done to advance the cause of constitutional democratization. We salute also the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition, and are proud to have been among those invited to speak at the relaunch of the ERA ratification campaign in Washington D.C. in 2014. We urge you to support their continued work.

At Liberty Tree, our primary role over the years has been to set the agenda:

  • We convened the first conference on participatory budgeting in the U.S..
  • We organized the No Stolen Elections! coalition in preparation for the 2004 presidential recount in Ohio.
  • We organized the Bring the Guard Home! campaign to reassert state control over Guard deployments.
  • We coordinated the Democratizing Education Network, the first national organization to mobilize for free public higher education and student debt relief (sound familiar?).
  • We co-founded and housed Move to Amend.
  • We initiated the Wisconsin Wave coalition that led much of the Wisconsin Uprising.
  • We organized the Global Climate Convergence to carry forward the promise of the Green New Deal and to introduce and popularize the idea of a Global Climate Strike.

All of these initiatives took root, bore fruit, and continue in new forms today. Once one of our campaigns gains the capacity to operate independently, we move on.

As you likely know, at the moment we are focused on taking the climate strikes to the next level. You will be hearing a lot about our initiative in the coming weeks and months. Movement building takes time. New ideas and strategies must be introduced and developed deliberately before they can spread widely and quickly. We ask you to continue to support our deep, long-term efforts. Thank you.

Ben Manski