Tampa City Council to vote on resolution opposing Citizens United decision & corporate personhood

03/07/12 Seán Kinane
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Tampa City Council.


photo by Janelle Irwin/WMNF News (Aug. 2011).

On Thursday March 15 Tampa City Council will vote on a resolution opposing the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and calling for a constitutional amendment declaring corporations are not people and money is not speech.

The resolution was introduced by Council members Frank Reddick and Mary Mulhern. Mulhern was going to be a guest on this Last Call but was sick. Tampa Bay area listeners weighed in on whether they think the City of Tampa should get involved in this national issue.

On March 6 more than two dozen Vermont towns sent a message to Washington that they want Congress to begin the process of changing the U.S. Constitution to ensure that corporations are not treated the same as people. Supporters are pushing for an amendment to override the landmark Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 that opened the door to corporations and unions to spend money on elections. Critics say the ruling gave corporations too much power. More than 50 communities in Vermont placed the corporate personhood issue to a vote Tuesday, and early results showed overwhelming support for an amendment. More results will be available later today. Vermont Senator Virginia Lyons, who organized the campaign in the state, said, People are just fed up with the status quo. (information from the AP)

Here is the full text of Tampa's resolution:

A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE THAT CORPORATIONS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THE ENTIRETY OF 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, AND CALLING ON CONGRESS TO BEGIN THE PROCESS OF AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS, in 2010 the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, holding that independent spending on elections by corporations and other groups could not be limited by government regulations; and,

WHEREAS, in reaching its decision, a majority of the Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons, allowing for unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, and policy decisions; and,

WHEREAS, in his eloquent dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens rightly recognized that "corporations 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, the Court's decision in Citizens United severely hampers the ability of federal, state and local governments to enact reasonable campaign finance reforms and regulations regarding corporate political activity; and,

WHEREAS, corporations should not be afforded the entirety of protections or "rights" of natural persons, such that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is a form of constitutionally protected speech; and,

WHEREAS, several proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States have been introduced in Congress that would allow governments to regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations to influence elections.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF TAMPA, FLORIDA:

Section 1. That the City Council of the City of Tampa hereby supports amending the United States Constitution to provide that corporations are not entitled to the entirety of 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, and calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution.

Section 2. That this resolution shall take effect immediately upon its adoption.

Tampa City Council proposed resolution on corporate personhood

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