Are Corporation People? Is money speech? You get to vote on it!
Madison Common Council Votes to Put Referendum on Corporate Personhood Before Voters
Madison, WI (January 19, 2011) – In a late-night vote at its January 18 meeting, the Madison Common Council approved the resolution “To place on the April 5, 2011 ballot a referendum on corporate personhood and money as speech” (Legislative File Number 20930). This resolution will put the following question before Madison voters:
“Shall the City of Madison adopt the following resolution:
RESOLVED, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, calls for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:
1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and
2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.”
The Common Council’s action has substantial backing. This fall South Central Wisconsin Move to Amend (SCWMTA) collected 15,261 signatures from city residents in support of placing this question on the ballot. Many of those who signed did so out of concern over the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision.
On January 21, 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that corporate spending on elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment because of the ideas that corporations are “persons” and money is “speech”. This decision overturned a century of precedent and unleashed a flood of corporate spending on elections.
“Citizens United was a terrible decision, and now the people of Madison will be able to take a stand in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn it.” says Mike Olneck, SCWMTA co-chair. “We hope that other communities will do this too.”
“I am very happy that we’ll get to vote on this,” says Madison resident Sierra Pope. “The ideas that corporations are people and that money is speech are absurd. Our country’s founders didn’t include these things in the Constitution, and yet the Supreme Court has decided to pretend like they’re in there. We need a constitutional amendment to set the record straight once and for all.”
The referendum is not the only upcoming local action in opposition to the Citizens United ruling. This Friday, January 21 marks the one-year anniversary of the decision, and in Madison the date will be marked by two events co-hosted by SCWMTA and Liberty Tree that are open to the public:
- 5:30pm – A rally on the State Street side of the Capitol steps. Speakers will address the fallout from the Citizens United decision one year later, and issue a call to action to help overturn it.
- 6:00-10:00pm – A “Wake for Democracy” at Brocach Irish Pub (7 West Main Street). This is an opportunity to share music and good company, to raise a glass to our dear friend Democracy and talk about ways to revive her.
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