Tompkins County
New York

Resolution
RES-2012-98

Calling for an Amendment to the Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood (Motion to Reconsider Resolution by Legislator Dennis)

Information

Department:Legislature OfficeSponsors:Member Kathy Luz Herrera
Category:Legislation or Funding - State and Federal

Resolution/Document Body

WHEREAS, government of, by, and for the people has long been a cherished American value, and We The People’s fundamental and inalienable right to self-govern, and thereby secure rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and

WHEREAS, free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance, and

WHEREAS, persons are rightfully recognized as human beings whose essential needs include clean air, clean water, safe and secure food, and

WHEREAS, corporations are entirely human-made legal fictions created by express permission of We The People and our government, and

WHEREAS, corporations can exist in perpetuity, can exist simultaneously in many nations at once, need only profit for survival, and exist solely through the legal charter imposed by the government of We The People, and

WHEREAS, in addition to these advantages, the great wealth of large corporations allows them to wield coercive force of law to overpower human beings and communities, thus denying We The People’s exercise of our Constitutional rights, and

WHEREAS, corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, and The People have never granted constitutional rights to corporations, nor have We decreed that corporations have authority that exceeds the authority of We The People of the United States, and

WHEREAS, interpretation of the U.S. Constitution by appointed Supreme Court justices to include corporations in the term ‘persons’ has long denied We The Peoples’ exercise of self- governance by endowing corporations with Constitutional protections intended for We The People, and

WHEREAS, the illegitimate judicial bestowal of civil and political rights upon corporations usurps basic human and Constitutional rights guaranteed to human persons, and also empowers corporations to sue municipal and state governments for adopting laws that violate ‘corporate rights’ even when those laws serve to protect and defend the rights of human persons and communities, and

WHEREAS, corporations are not and have never been human beings, and therefore are rightfully subservient to human beings and governments as our legal creations, and

WHEREAS, large corporations’ profits and survival are often in direct conflict with the essential needs and rights of human beings, and

WHEREAS, the recent Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision that rolled back the legal limits on corporate spending in the electoral process creates an unequal playing field and allows unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, policy decisions and sway votes, and forces elected officials to divert their attention from The Peoples’ business, or even vote against the interest of their human constituents, in order to ensure competitive campaign funds for their own re-election, and

WHEREAS, large corporations own most of America’s mass media and use that media as a megaphone to express loudly their political agenda and to convince Americans that their primary role is that of consumers, rather than sovereign citizens with rights and responsibilities within our democracy, and this forces citizens to toil to discern the truth behind headlines and election campaigning, and

WHEREAS, tens of thousands of people and municipalities across the nation are joining with the Move to Amend campaign to call for an Amendment to the US Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion and the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committees, That the Tompkins County Legislature hereby calls on the United States Congress to join the tens of thousands of citizens, grassroots organizations, and local governments across the country to call for an Amendment to the Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood and return our democracy, our elections, our communities back to America’s human persons and to thus reclaim our sovereign right to self-governance,

RESOLVED, further, That the Tompkins County Legislature calls on other communities and jurisdictions to join with us in this action by passing similar Resolutions,

RESOLVED, further, That the Tompkins County Legislature supports education to increase public awareness of the threats to our democracy posed by Corporate Personhood, and encourages lively discussion to build understanding and consensus to take appropriate community and municipal actions to democratically respond to these threats.

SEQR ACTION:  TYPE II-20

Meeting History

May 23, 2012 3:30 PM  Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee Regular Meeting

Ms. Luz Herrera introduced the resolution, saying that because of the nature and importance of the issue she wanted to bring it to WDIC as a first step toward consideration by the Legislature. She noted that much of the language is based on that advanced by the organization “Move to Amend,” which she believes appropriate for a County resolution.

In discussion, WDIC members voiced support of the resolution and deep concern over the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision and its effect on rolling back legal limits of corporate spending in the electoral process, and many indicated it was important to take a stand on this issue. Some highlights of the discussion:

Mr. Roberts asserted that the Supreme Court is wrong, and that there must be limits on groups of people who are taking over the political process . Some caution must be employed-regarding preserving the expression of points of view, rights of non-profit corporations, etc.

Mr. Shinagawa observed that some may be afraid of the process of seeking a constitutional amendment, but voiced his support to the resolution, in view of the effects that the ruling has had on the representative process. He cited a disturbing finding that indicated 30% of all political speech in the 2010 elections came from only a few sources.

Ms. McBean-Clairborne expressed concern that the current situation serves to disenfranchise much of the population.

Ms. Luz Herrera said that passage of resolutions such as this seeks to show a groundswell of support, and that supporters are willing to call for a constitutional amendment.

Mr. Shinagawa noted that, with no legislative recourse at the federal level, a constitutional amendment is the only option, other than reconsideration by the present or a future Supreme Court. Mr. Roberts agreed that the ability of the government to regulate is a crucial element in opposing this issue.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Kathy Luz Herrera, Member
SECONDER:Larry Roberts, Member
AYES:Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Nathan Shinagawa, Kathy Luz Herrera, Anita Fitzpatrick, Patricia Carey, Lisa Holmes, Marcia Lynch, Larry Roberts, Mary DeSouza
EXCUSED:Shawn Martel-Moore, Pat Pryor, Betsy Doling, Kit Kephart, Jamaica Breedlove
May 29, 2012 3:30 PM  Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee Regular Meeting

Ms. Herrera said it is her desire as a Legislator to join people all over the country who are trying to express to elected officials at every level the importance of overturning the Citizens United decision. This resolution shows solidarity with a movement that says Corporate Personhood is not the smartest way to have free speech handled in a democratic society. She hopes the Committee will approve the resolution and present it to the Legislature for consideration.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED [3 TO 1]
MOVER:Kathy Luz Herrera, Member
SECONDER:James Dennis, Chair
AYES:James Dennis, Kathy Luz Herrera, Michael Lane
NAYS:Brian Robison
EXCUSED:Nathan Shinagawa
Jun 5, 2012 5:30 PM  Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting

Ms. Herrera said many of the arguments about mandate relief are similar to the arguments for this resolution. It is important to pass this resolution and let elected officials know that free speech by corporations is raising the amount being spent on elections by 40 percent compared to what was being spent in previous elections and way out spending opponents. This is a way of letting people know across the country that we stand in unison. She strongly believes the County Legislature should pass a resolution that is very similar to what was presented by www.MoveOn.org. She believes that a resolution concerning the impact corporate finance can have on public elections of elected officials should come forward in a separate resolution.

Mr. Lane said this was discussed by the Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee and one Legislator who brought this forth could not be here this evening and would like all resolutions on this topic considered at the same time.

A Roll Call vote was taken.

RESULT:ADOPTED [11 TO 2]
MOVER:James Dennis, Member
SECONDER:Kathy Luz Herrera, Member
AYES:Will Burbank, Carol Chock, James Dennis, Kathy Luz Herrera, Dooley Kiefer, Michael Lane, Pamela Mackesey, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, David McKenna, Pat Pryor, Martha Robertson
NAYS:Frank Proto, Brian Robison
EXCUSED:Nathan Shinagawa, Peter Stein
Jun 19, 2012 5:30 PM  Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting