June 29, 2013 (Lemon Grove) – At the request of Council members George Gastil and Racquel Vasquez, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 2 will consider a request from Money Out of Politics (MOP) to adopt a resolution to limit the influence of money in politics. Thirteen state legislatures and many cities, including San Diego and Los Angeles, have already adopted similar resolutions.
The resolution opposes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. The high court found limits on corporate campaign contributions to be illegal, finding that corporations have rights similar to citizens.
The MOP resolution calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution t to make clear that corporations are not people and thus are not entitled to the rights and protections of citizens.
MOP San Diego is a grassroots organization working in coalition with Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to limit the influence of money in politics.
Text of the resolution is below.
WHEREAS, free and fair elections are essential to American democracy and effective self-governance; and
WHEREAS, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (hereinafter referred to as Citizens United), the United States Supreme Court, on a 5 to 4 vote, held that governments could not restrict political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions—a decision that allows for unlimited corporate spending in elections; and
WHEREAS, in reaching its decision in Citizens United, the Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
WHEREAS, the Citizens United decision supersedes state and local efforts to regulate corporate activity in their local campaign finance laws; and
WHEREAS, in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens stated that “[c]orporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established”; and
WHEREAS, members of Congress are seeking to amend the Constitution in order to reverse the Citizens United decision and establish that corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections of natural persons; and
WHEREAS, several dozen municipalities, including New York City, the City of Los Angeles, and the City of San Diego, have adopted resolutions opposing the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in Citizens United and supporting Constitutional amendments; and
WHEREAS, the City of Lemon Grove has a history of demonstrating support for an orderly political forum in which individuals may express themselves effectively, placing realistic and enforceable limits on the amounts of money that may be contributed to political campaigns in municipal elections, in order to develop a broader base of political efficacy within the community.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Lemon Grove, California hereby:
- Respectfully disagrees with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission regarding the rights of corporations; and
- Joins other cities in calling on the United States Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution to provide that corporations, associations, or labor unions are not entitled to the protections or “rights” of natural persons, specifically so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech.