In case you feared it was all for naught, Los Angeles is the first major city to call for an end to corporate personhood.
The national coalition “Move to Amend” is attacking the notion that corporations are people on a grassroots, city-by-city basis. In Los Angeles, Move to Amend got the endorsement of Occupy LA among other groups advocating for an end to corporate personhood before their resolution went before the City Council.
Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to support Move to Amend’s resolution, in what organizers say they hope is “the vote heard around the world.”
The resolution calls on Congress to amend the Constitution to establish that only living persons are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech, in response to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Move to Amend’s LA founder Mary Beth Fielder elaborated, “Move to Amend’s proposed amendment would provide the basis for overturning the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court has no legitimate right to grant people’s rights to corporations. We must clearly establish that it is we, The People, who are meant to rule.”
Here’s a video by Rick Watts of the press conference immediately following the vote:
Move To Amend’s LA founder Mary Beth Fielder hopes the unanimous vote will be the vote heard around the world, “I hope this is the vote heard around the world that really is a symbol to the rest of the country that they can do the same as we’ve done and together we’re going to develop the grassroots support we need to actually amend our constitution and that’s going to be done sooner rather than later.”
Council President Eric Garcetti, who chairs a group overseeing all the Democratic mayors and council members in the country, introduced the amendment to the LA City Council. Garcetti pledged his on-going support for the move to end corporate personhood, “We’re very proud to come together and send a message but more than that, this becomes the official position of the City of Los Angeles, we will officially lobby for this.”
Move to Amend’s strategy is to pass community resolutions across the nation through city councils and through direct vote by ballot initiative. “Our plan is build a movement that will drive this issue into Congress from the grassroots. The American people are behind us on this and these campaigns help our federal representatives see that we mean business. Our very democracy is at stake,” stated Sopoci-Belknap. “Our goal is for 50 towns and cities to put Move to Amend’s resolution on the ballot for the Presidential election in November, 2012.”
Move to Amend is a production of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, an organization “rooted in the belief that the American Revolution is a living tradition whose greatest promise is democracy.” The foundation played a part in the 2004 vote recount in Ohio through their No Stolen Elections! campaign.
The amendment reads in part:
Section 1 [A corporation is not a person and can be regulated]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Read the rest here.
Thomm Hartmann interviewed Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend’s national field director before the resolution was passed, and she urges people to join the call to end corporate personhood by getting involved at Move to Amend.
This is just the beginning, but lest people be underwhelmed, many major changes and moves to amend the constitution – such as women’s right to vote – often begin as small, grassroots movements.
The fight to overturn Citizens United continues. The unanimous vote of the Los Angeles City Council to call for an end to corporate personhood suggests that Occupy Wall Street is having a much needed influence on our national dialogue about corporate money in politics and taking back our democracy for the people.