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Cleveland Heights City Council Asks Supreme Court To Amend Citizens United Decision

Council members passed a resolution 4-1 opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Cleveland Heights voted 4-1 to pass a resolution opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

The council document indicated that council specifically disagreed with the court’s decision regarding the constitutional rights of corporations and asked the court to amend the decision to grant protections or “rights” of natural persons to corporations.

"The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, holding that independent spending on elections by corporations could not be limited by government regulations," the resolution read. "The court's decision severely hampers the ability of federal, state and local governments to enact reasonable campaign finance reforms and regulations regarding corporate political activity."

The resolution, approved at the June 18 regular meeting, was proposed after a group of citizens asked council to take a stand on the issue, adding that other cities around the country have passed legislation opposing the decision.

But council member Mary Dunbar said that’s not and shouldn't be council’s responsibility, and voted no. She said she would have chosen not to vote if it were possible, but that option is only available when there's a conflict of interest for the councilperson.

“I sought election to City Council to work on our local issues. I do not wish to take a position on this ordinance because it is a complex national issue. Doing the research I would want to do to take a position on Citizen’s United is not the best use of my time, when I have all I can do to focus on how to enhance our city’s housing, quality of life and financial strength,” Dunbar said at the meeting.

Though she did not approve the resolution, she recognized the activists who have spoken out against the Citizens United decision.

“I am glad that the citizens of this community are not apathetic, but I ask them to weigh carefully whether asking City Council to take stands on national issues is the best use of our limited municipal resources of time, money and talent,” Dunbar said.

The New York Times reported today, June 25 that the Supreme Court has decided not to review its decision.

Council member Cheryl Stephens was not present for the meeting and council member .

Bonnie Dolezal June 26, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Why is it ok for Unions to donate to campaigns but not corporations? What do we expect here in CH with a council run by the Democratic Party and the Unions. Disgraceful! Great that the Supreme Court upheld this. Great day for America!
Carla June 26, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I agree, thanks to Jason Stein for his concern about the democratic rights of all Americans, including Cleveland Heights residents. Council member Mary Dunbar may want to consider yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision, in which the "esteemed Supremes" threw out more than 100 years of Montana law regulating political contributions, citing Citizens United. Ms. Dunbar says she does not have time to research the Citizens United decision. Since she is a U.S. citizen and a voter, I would think that she would be concerned enough to read the majority opinion and the dissent in this very important case. Hundreds of Cleveland Heights residents who have signed the petition at www.movetoamend.org hoped for an even stronger resolution from Cleveland Heights City Council. We hoped our City would join more than a hundred others around the country to support a Constitutional Amendment dealing with more than 140 years of law that has mis-used Constitutional rights meant for people and mistakenly applied them to corporations. For our City's Law Director and Council, it was going too far to state: Corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights intended for human beings; and money is not political speech, and can be regulated. Right now, wealthy individuals contribute 70% of the cash in SuperPACs (re: Sunlight Fdn). Just reversing Citizens United would not change that, nor would it touch 140 years of corporations enjoying constitutional "personhood."
Carla June 26, 2012 at 01:33 PM
It is NOT okay for EITHER unions OR corporations to contribute to political campaigns. The doctrine of "money as speech" means that those with more money (whether wealthy individuals or foreign corporations hiding behind secret SuperPACs) have more speech. This makes a mockery of "one person, one vote." If you think wealthy people and organizations are entitled to run this country as their personal fiefdoms, I disagree with you.
Greg Coleridge June 26, 2012 at 07:08 PM
We the People have not only a responsibility but a duty to control corporations, which are, after all, creations of government (which is us!). Corporations were never intended to possess inalienable constitutional rights. The Bill of Rights, 14th Amendment, etc. were meant to apply solely to human beings. A reading of our revolutionary history (not a bad thing to do anyway around July 4) shows that the colonists revolted not simply against the King of England and his army but also his "Crown Corporations" like the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, etc. Corporations are independent legal entities separate from the people who own, control and manage them. Without the state, there would be no corporations. Therefore, it's our responsibility to ensure they don't become more powerful than us. Allowing corporations First Amendment "free speech" rights is bizarre and contrary to the intention of our nation's founders. City Council did the right thing in calling for a reversal of the Citizens United decision. We the People in Cleveland Heights may consider taking a step further -- specifically launching a citizen initiative that declares that only human beings, not corporations, possess constitutional rights and that money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
Ken Adams June 26, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Personally I think it is ridiculous that the Cleveland Heights City Counsel believes that wasting time passing a resoultion which has no impact what so ever is being productive. This city wastes more time and resources on silly and wasteful items. A city parking garage on Lee which has never been full. solar panels for the lights at the garage which will pay for themselves in 40 years (providing they never need fixing/replacement). $1200 paint jobs per police car because the Mayor thinks that he is still living in the 1970's and likes the look of the outdated color scheme. And lets not even mention the green space at Oakwood that will bring in millions of dollars per year in money to the city....oh wait that is South Euclid. Any other great resolutions requiring an emergency to pass here in this fine city.

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