Tompkins County
New York


Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in Response to the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” Decision


Department:Legislature OfficeSponsors:Dooley Kiefer, Legislator Will Burbank
Category:Legislation or Funding - State and Federal


  1. Founding Fathers Document - Harvard Business Review
  2. Possible Additions To Summarize a Worry About Unintended Consequences Of A Constitutional Amendment (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)

Resolution/Document Body

              WHEREAS, the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address define what is unique and exceptional about our nation, and


WHEREAS, these documents repeatedly use the words “people” and “men” when addressing the fundamental goals and rights for all American citizens, and


WHEREAS, the authors of these documents clearly intended “people” and “men” to refer to human beings who are citizens of the United States and not to corporations or other entities, and


WHEREAS, the founders of our nation could never have anticipated the degree to which several Supreme Court decisions purportedly stemming from these words together with the wealth and technology currently available to corporations, other entities and a few individuals in America have made it possible for a single person, corporation, or entity to anonymously drown out the collective voices of everyone else, and


WHEREAS, the right of all people to speak and be heard is a bedrock principle of any nation that aspires to be free and democratic, and


WHEREAS, each and every American's precious right of free speech becomes meaningless unless their speech is legal and their words have a reasonable chance of being heard, and


              WHEREAS, the degree to which highly funded political action committees can influence the outcome of elections has been amply demonstrated in recent election cycles, and


              WHEREAS, a series of Supreme Court decisions have made it impossible for the legislative process alone to restore the integrity of federal, state, and local elections, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That the Tompkins County Legislature urges the United States Congress to join the tens of thousands of citizens, local governments, and organizations across America that call for an amendment to the United States Constitution to clearly and unambiguously state that inalienable rights recognized under the constitution belong to human beings only, not to legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies or labor unions, and that money is not speech, and thus regulating political campaign contributions, and political campaign spending, does not abridge free speech and thus would allow federal and state governments to limit the political speech of corporations, other organizations, and individuals so long as those limitations are enforced equally for each entity,


              RESOLVED, further, That we ask the drafters of any Constitutional Amendment to pay particular attention to the wording of any such amendment so as not to have unintended consequences that would abrogate existing corporate legal obligation such as contracts,


              RESOLVED, further, That over time certain rights and privileges, such as owning private property and entering into legally binding agreements such as contracts, have been granted to corporations to enable them to engage in commerce and development as part of the economic fabric of our country and the world, and these must be taken into account and balanced with public interest in protecting such things as public health and our common environment when crafting any Constitutional amendment.


Meeting History

May 11, 2012 9:30 AM  Government Operations Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Stein believes the resolution is too broad and does not specify the rights to be eliminated. Ms. Kiefer said it would be up to Congress to make a determination.

Mr. Tiffany said all the rights should be eliminated and through due process replaced with privileges that have regulations tied to them. Mr. Stein strongly disagreed with Mr. Tiffany’s statements.

MOVER:Pamela Mackesey, Member
SECONDER:Dooley Kiefer, Chair
AYES:Dooley Kiefer, Pamela Mackesey, Pat Pryor
NAYS:Michael Lane, Peter Stein
Jun 19, 2012 5:30 PM  Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting
MOVER:Dooley Kiefer, Member
SECONDER:Pamela Mackesey, Member
AYES:Will Burbank, Carol Chock, Dooley Kiefer, Pamela Mackesey, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Pat Pryor, Martha Robertson, Peter Stein
NAYS:James Dennis, Michael Lane, David McKenna, Frank Proto, Brian Robison
EXCUSED:Kathy Luz Herrera, Nathan Shinagawa