Duluth made history last week when it became the first city in the state to pass a resolution in support of a constitutional amendment that would essentially overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision, namely Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
The court ruled in 2010 that corporations are entitled to the same constitutional rights as individual U.S. citizens. A majority of justices also concluded that political spending was a form of free speech and that corporations should be able to spend an unlimited sum of money to influence voters, without disclosing financial details of their activities.
Although Duluth is the first Minnesota city to come out against the ruling, other city councils across the nation have already taken a similar stand. The Los Angeles City Council did so Dec. 6. And New York City is slated to follow suit soon, according to Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to public advocacy.
Nathan Ness, a statewide organizer for Move to Amend, a group working to blunt the effects of the Citizens United decision, estimated that about 50 similar resolutions have been passed in other cities.
Ness said about 3,000 Minnesotans and about 150,000 people nationwide have signed a petition calling for a constitutional amendment such as the one proposed by the Duluth City Council.
Councilor Jeff Anderson, who is leaving the Duluth City Council in January to run for the 8th District congressional seat now held by Rep. Chip Cravaack, introduced the resolution. It called for an amendment that would “firmly establish that money is not speech, that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights, and that whenever the word ‘person’ is used in the Constitution it means a natural person.”