City approves We the People Eugene resolution for campaign financing reform

The Eugene City Council passed a resolution 6-1 on Feb. 15, calling for Congress to make an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would stop unlimited campaign contributions by eliminating the notion of corporate personhood.

This decision came at the urging of We the People Eugene, a grassroots network of citizens fighting for people’s rights and against corporate rule. They have been campaigning for this resolution for months before presenting 5,000 signatures in support of the issue to the city council last November.

“The effect of granting constitutional rights to corporations is to limit the ability of elected government to regulate government for the general benefit of their citizens,” said Stan Taylor, a representative for We the People Eugene.@@ “This is a battle at its most basic level between governance based on corporations versus being government by democratically chosen representatives. We can’t do that because corporations have been given these rights.”@@i think it would be better to limit the amendment to saying the bill of rights, and all rights guaranteed in it (both now and in the future), be limited to humans. otherwise, you might have corporations reclassifying themselves to some other entity that will allow them to do what they are doing [email protected]@

The network is the local affiliate of Move to Amend,@@ a national group dedicated to ending the illegitimate legal doctrines that prevent the American people from governing themselves.

The resolution urges Congress to propose an amendment that seeks to reverse the effects of a controversial campaign finance ruling made in 2010 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. In the 5-4 ruling, the court removed restrictions on campaign spending for corporations and labor unions, primarily citing the First Amendment as the reason for the decision.

“I think it’s wrong for corporations to be able to buy elections,” Councilor Betty Taylor said.

Two Supreme Court justices suggested on Feb. 17 that the court reconsider its controversial 2010 decision that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections. The court, however, has not taken any action on this suggestion.

Councilor Pat Farr was the dissenting vote on the council. He thought this was not a local issue, and that the city council should not spend their time voting on such matters. The opposition has doubted the ability of cities to reach the national level. Stan Taylor@@kept stan due to [email protected]@ said that this grassroots movement is gaining momentum and will be able to reach the national level eventually.

“I would support the city in their decision mainly because corporations could fund things that benefit them and just pour money into it,” University freshman Claire Dickerson said.@@[email protected]@ “They could box out people who do not have the funds and prevent them from getting their opinion out there.”

At least 10 cities across the nation have passed similar resolutions calling for an amendment abolishing corporate personhood, including Portland, New York, Los Angeles, and Berkeley, Calif. Many other cities are also currently considering the resolution, either through a city council vote or a ballot measure.

“As a government, I think we made a statement, and it may have some influence,” Betty Taylor said. “At least the local groups will continue pushing for this matter.”

Councilor Alan Zelenka@@[email protected]@ was the main proponent of the resolution. He modified the original national version, borrowing much of the language from the Portland resolution, so that Eugene’s resolution is locally similar.

“I think people are increasingly willing to fight for this because the system we have now is not working for people, but working for corporations,” Stan Taylor said. “It is decimating the middle class at the same time. People who have been poor or who are becoming poor, they’re all united together.”

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