Cities, states pass resolutions against corporate personhood

Several cities and states are passing resolutions against corporate personhood. The resolutions are the result of Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which gave corporations the same first amendment rights as individuals and thereby opening the floodgates for money in politics in the US. Cities and states with rules governing political contributions on the books and even some without are hoping that these resolutions will curb the impact of that decision or provide momentum to overturn it completely.

Los Angeles, Oakland, Albany and Boulder have all passed city council resolutions invalidating the concept of corporate personhood. New York City voted this afternoon to join them, with a resolution creating clear dividing lines between the rights of corporations and citizens in Manhattan. The New York decision is notable for both the size of Manhattan but also the size of its business community and the potential impact of such a resolution. Cities across the country are looking at similar resolutions in attempt to restore order in their localities as Super Political Action Committees (PACs) make unprecedented forays into local elections.

On Friday, Montana’s Supreme Court restored a 100-year old provision banning corporate spending in local politics. According to the court, even though the Supreme Court ruling strikes federal spending limits, it does not specifically prohibit state spending laws. The court held that the state’s Corrupt Practices Act, thus complies with the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Vermont introduced a measure in the state legislature last week that calls on Congress to create a constitutional amendment separating the rights of individuals from those of corporations. California is expected to be the next state to take up a state-level resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.