The New York City Council passed a resolution on Wednesday calling for a constitutional amendment that would reject Citizens United vs. FEC, the Supreme Court case that ushered in the hopefully short lived era of “corporate personhood.”
Joining such cities as Los Angeles, Boulder, Missoula, Oakland, Albany, Madison, and South Miami, the resolution will put pressure on New York politicians to reject the current system in which corporations are viewed as people in the eyes of the law and their money is considered free speech.
An amendment has already been proposed in Congress by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) that would reverse both the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision which declared spending money as a form of speech. The nationwide movement is gaining ground thanks to the grassroots work of Move To Amend. A similar proposal has been introduced to the house by Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH).
The movement’s most reassuring news to date came last Friday when the Montana Supreme Court ruled that their state election laws banning corporate spending were valid despite the 2010 Supreme Court ruling. This decision is likely to set up a new wave of legal challenges which could push the “corporate personhood” issue to the forefront just in time for the lead up to the 2012 Presidential Election:
Council members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Steve Levin, all members of the Progressive Caucus, sponsored the bill. It was co-sponsored by the rest of the caucus membership. After the bill was passed, the Progressive Caucus released a statement saying the resolution showed “restoring confidence in government and strengthening democratic participation” are among the core principles of the caucus.
“We believe that corporations should not share the same rights as people, that unlimited and unreported corporate donations meant to sway the electoral process should not be considered freedom of speech, and that the government should regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations intended to influence elections,” the statement said. “We cannot allow corporate money to manipulate our democracy.”