As of Monday evening, Charlottesville City Council has joined the list of over 250 localities, several state legislatures, 22 state attorneys general, the Supreme Court of Montana, four Supreme Court justices, dozens of Congress members, countless clubs and organizations and political parties, and — in poll after poll — the vast majority of the people of the United States — all of whom want the U.S. Constitution amended or by other means wish to undo the Citizens United ruling that opened the flood gates on corporate election spending.
A group of local citizens met, one at a time, with four of the five City Council members ahead of time to win their support. Several of us spoke at Monday’s meeting. When I spoke I asked people to stand up if they believed that Congress and states and cities should be allowed to limit or ban corporate and private spending on elections.
A delegation of over a dozen Afghans, mostly women, was attending the meeting. I encouraged them to stand up if they thought the model for Afghanistan’s future should be democracy rather than corruption.
I didn’t spot a single person left seated.
But there probably was one, because a woman had spoken against the resolution. She’d falsely accused those of us speaking in support of not being from Charlottesville and not caring about local people or local issues. We of course had explained the importance of local governments representing their constituents to higher governments on matters of great importance.
The local newspaper, the Daily Progress, had devoted a big front-page story a few days beforehand to the point of view of the one city council member who opposed the resolution on the grounds that it was not a local matter. Following a 4-0 vote in favor of the resolution, the Daily Progress quickly produced a new article about the point of view of that same city council member who had abstained, not the four who had voted yes, not the crowd that supported them, not what it does to Charlottesville to have a Congress that ignores majority opinion and obeys its funders, not the people who had drafted and promoted the resolution, not the impact it might have, not the national trend, not the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, but the one councilwoman who abstained from voting and who — during the course of Monday’s meeting baselessly accused her four colleagues of being “manipulated” — presumably by us.
City Councilman Dave Norris pointed out that every single locality in Virginia petitions the state goverment every year, and many petititon Congress every year. Councilwoman Kristin Szakos noted that when she and her colleagues devote 30 minutes to an important issue, they don’t neglect others but simply extend the meeting 30 minutes.
The resolution text, or very close to it, follows. For exact wording check with Charlottesville City Council.
WHEREAS, We the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect the free speech and other rights of people, not corporations; and
WHEREAS, Corporations are not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations; and
WHEREAS, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate the people’s laws; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, relying on prior decisions, interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending corporate general treasury funds in our elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United purports to invalidate state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of municipalities across the nation are joining together to call for an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that political speech and spending by corporate entities to influence the political process must be regulated and made subservient to the people’s interest in authentic democracy and self-governance; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States previously have used the constitutional amendment process to correct decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that are deemed to be egregious and wrongly decided and which go to the heart of our democracy and self-government.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE CALL UPON THE VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE. By the People of Charlottesville, Va.