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Citizens United Overrules KY Constitution Outlawing Corporate Influence on Elections

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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-24-10 12:23 AM
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Citizens United Overrules KY Constitution Outlawing Corporate Influence on Elections
Edited on Sun Jan-24-10 12:35 AM by Land Shark
It is not just federal statutes of recent decades that fall to Citizens United, but state constitutional provisions like the ones in Kentucky below. You can decide for yourself how much of Kentucky's current constitution -- in force for nearly 120 years -- must fall before this single 5-4 vote by the US Supreme Court.

The key provision on Suffrage (I've appended a few on corporations as well) is one prohibiting corporations from "indirectly" or directly "influencing voters." As a penalty for corporate direct or indirect influencing of elections, it provides for revocation of their corporate charter (aka the "corporate death penalty")

The most recent KY Constitution was adopted in 1891, has had 78 amendments sent to voters, but the key provision below, Section 150, has stood unscathed since 1891.

Kentucky Constitution of 1891 (current) SECTION 150

{...} if any corporation shall, directly or indirectly, offer, promise
or give, or shall authorize, directly or indirectly, any person to
offer, promise or give any money or any thing of value to influence
the result of any election in this State, or the vote of any voter

authorized to vote therein, or who shall afterward reimburse or
compensate, in any manner whatever, any person who shall have offered,
promised or given any money or other thing of value to influence the
result of any election or the vote of any such voter, such
corporation, if organized under the laws of this Commonwealth, shall,
on conviction thereof, forfeit its charter and all rights, privileges
and immunities thereunder;
and if chartered by another State and doing
business in this State, whether by license, or upon mere sufferance,
such corporation, upon conviction of either of the offenses aforesaid,
shall forfeit all right to carry on any business in this State {...} The
privilege of free suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating
elections, and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue
influence thereon, from power,
bribery, tumult or other improper

Full text at: (adopted in 1891 and
never since amended)

Additional Provisions of Kentucky Constitution Re Corporations

SEC. 190. No corporation in existence at the time of the adoption of
this Constitution shall have the benefit of future legislation without
first filing in the office of the Secretary of State an acceptance of
the provisions of this Constitution.

SEC. 192. No corporation shall engage in business other than that
expressly authorized by its charter, or the law under which it may
have been or hereafter may be organized, nor shall it hold any real
estate, except such as may be proper and necessary for carrying on its
legitimate business, for a longer period than five years, under
penalty of escheat.

SEC. 195. The Commonwealth, in the exercise of the right of eminent
domain, shall have and retain the same powers to take the property and
franchises of incorporated companies for public use which it has and
retains to take the property of individuals, and the exercise of the
police powers of this Commonwealth shall never be abridged, nor so
construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such
manner as to infringe upon the equal rights of individuals.

SEC. 205. The General Assembly shall, by general laws, provide for the
revocation or forfeiture of the charters of all corporations guilty of
abuse or misuse of their corporate powers, privileges or franchises,

or whenever said corporations become detrimental to the interest and
welfare of the Commonwealth or its citizens.

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