Mayors' Conference Passes Anti-corporate Personhood Resolution

Search form

Mayors' Conference Passes Anti-corporate Personhood Resolution

Mayors' Conference Passes Anti-corporate Personhood Resolution
Fri, 6/29/2012

Last week the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to clarify that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

Portland, Oregon Mayor Sam Adams co-sponsored four resolutions, which were discussed, debated and adopted unanimously. The resolutions ranged from speaking against corporate personhood and reversing Citizens United, to opposing the shipment of radioactive nuclear waste through our cities and towns, and re-establishing the ‘polluter pays’ principle in our environmental laws, as well as confronting the issues of the housing crisis facing our communities with respect to vacant and nuisance houses.

Read the full text of the anti-corporate personhood resolution adopted by the mayors:

ESTABLISH AS A POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF MAYORS THAT CORPORATIONS SHOULD NOT RECEIVE THE SAME LEGAL RIGHTS AS NATURAL PERSONS DO, THAT MONEY IS NOT SPEECH AND THAT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES SHOULD BE REGULATED

WHEREAS, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are intended to protect the rights of individual human beings also known as “natural persons”; and

WHEREAS, corporations can and do make important contributions to our society, but the United States Conference of Mayors does not consider them natural persons; and

WHEREAS, the right to free speech is a fundamental freedom and unalienable right and free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance; and

WHEREAS, United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in a 1938 opinion stated, "I do not believe the word 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations"; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court held in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) that the appearance of corruption justified limits on contribution to candidates, but rejected other fundamental interests that the United States Conference of Mayors finds compelling such as creating a level playing field and ensuring that all citizens, regardless of wealth, have an opportunity to have their political views heard; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Buckley overturned limits on independent expenditures because it found that the corruption or perception of corruption rationale was only applicable to direct contributions to candidates; and, WHEREAS, United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens observed in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (2000) that “money is property, it is not speech,”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court recognized in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) the threat to a republican form of government posed by “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporations political ideas” and upheld limits on independent expenditures by corporations; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission (2010) reversed the decision in Austin, allowing unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, policy decisions and sway votes; and

WHEREAS, prior to Citizens United decision unlimited independent campaign expenditures could be made by individuals and associations, though such committees operated under federal contribution limits; and,

WHEREAS, given that the Citizens United decision “rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently” because the First Amendment “generally prohibits the suppression of political speech based on the speaker’s identity,” there is a need to broaden the corruption rationale for campaign finance reform to facilitate regulation of independent expenditures regardless of the source of the money for this spending, for or against a candidate; and

WHEREAS, a February 2010 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United ruling; and,

WHEREAS, the opinion of the four dissenting justices in Citizens United noted that corporations have special advantages not enjoyed by natural persons, such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets; and

WHEREAS, corporations are legally required to put profits for shareholders ahead of concerns for the greatest good of society while individual shareholders as natural persons balance their narrow self-interest and broader public interest when making political decisions; and

WHEREAS, addressing both the Citizens United decision, and corporate personhood is necessary; and WHEREAS, the City Councils of Missoula, Montana; Boulder, Colorado; and Madison, Wisconsin have referred the issue of corporate personhood to their communities for advisory vote.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that it is the position of the United States Conference of Mayors that corporations should not receive the same legal rights as individual human beings (also known as “natural persons”) do; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors also determines that the most urgent action needed is to reverse the impacts of United States Supreme Court Citizens United (2010) decision and the door it opens for unlimited independent campaign expenditures by corporations that contributes to the undermining impacts that “corporate personhood” has on free and fair elections and effective self-governance; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors calls on other communities and jurisdictions and organizations like National League of Cities to join with us in this action by passing similar Resolutions.

RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2012

Article Tabs

Occupy Central, Joshua Wong, Hong Kong democracy protests, Umbrella Movement, freedom of association, freedom to assemble, Hong Kong Federation of Students, Scholarism, Leung Chun-ying

"Today is a political prosecution," said Joshua Wong after his arrest last week. "My involvement in the Civic Square action is the best thing I have accomplished in the four years I've been involved in social student movements."

Freddie Gray, Baltimore protests, police brutality, police violence, Fortress Investment Group, Imperial Capital, The Abell Foundation, purchasing debt, foreclosures

Wall Street hedge fund Fortress Investment Group and L.A.-based Imperial Capital bought up hundreds of small debts — from unpaid water bills to delinquent property taxes — and could take property worth tens of millions of dollars if families can’t pay.

Act Out! [27] - Activist Autumn begins, sign the petition & Good Will Hunting rhymes

This week we've got a veritable shit ton happening on the Front Lines, so ready your calendars for the activist onslaught.

Issues of police brutality – like the July killing of Paul Castaway near Denver – are opening the public's eyes to the continuing struggles of Native Americans and other groups unfairly targeted by law enforcement.

Privatization advocates contend that Katrina brought essential reforms to Louisiana’s education system – but the facts tell a different story, as black residents report they live in a city that has yet to recover.

The lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety accuses the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of withholding information about GMOs for more than 13 years.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
rising homelessness, chronic homelessness, Los Angeles homeless, Poverty Matters, Section 8 federal housing

The number of people who are chronically homeless has overwhelmed the dwindling supply of affordable housing in southern California's sprawling metropolitan area.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
household debt, student debt, credit card debt, debt illegitimacy, International Citizen debt Audit Network, odious debt, debt resistance, positive money, negative-interest currency

No street protests are necessary, no confrontations with riot police, to stop payment on a credit card or student loan – the financial system is vulnerable to a few million mouse clicks.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago
money in politics, Super PACs, Federal Election Commission, Citizens United, Campaign Legal Center, campaign finance laws, campaign finance reform

Spending more than twice as much as the last three White House races combined, the unregulated fundraising juggernauts backed by unlimited contributions from wealthy donors threaten to completely shape – and control – the 2016 race.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
Guatemala protests, Otto Pérez Molina, #RenunciaYa, anti-corruption protests, CICIG, Guatemala massacres

Pressure to impeach President Otto Pérez Molina for his involvement in a major corruption scandal that has thrown the country into political crisis is mounting.

Posted 4 days 22 hours ago
money in politics, Super PACs, Federal Election Commission, Citizens United, Campaign Legal Center, campaign finance laws, campaign finance reform

Spending more than twice as much as the last three White House races combined, the unregulated fundraising juggernauts backed by unlimited contributions from wealthy donors threaten to completely shape – and control – the 2016 race.

household debt, student debt, credit card debt, debt illegitimacy, International Citizen debt Audit Network, odious debt, debt resistance, positive money, negative-interest currency

No street protests are necessary, no confrontations with riot police, to stop payment on a credit card or student loan – the financial system is vulnerable to a few million mouse clicks.

Privatization advocates contend that Katrina brought essential reforms to Louisiana’s education system – but the facts tell a different story, as black residents report they live in a city that has yet to recover.

350.org, The Academy of Sciences, fossil fuel divestment

The Natural History Museum and 350.org launched a collaborative campaign calling on the country’s top science and natural history museums to dump all stocks in oil, coal and gas.

Malaysian protests, anti-corruption protests

People participating in the 34-hour protest slept in the streets overnight in an unusually calm demonstration of public outrage by the group Bersih, which means “clean” in Malay.

Sign Up