There is a national movement spearheaded by Move to Amend pushing for a constitutional amendment to abolish “corporate personhood” and declare money is not a form of protected speech.
Two of Santa Monica’s council members sought to gain support for Move to Amend’s national mobilization campaign held Friday and placing the issue on the elected panel’s next meeting tomorrow.
The dais unanimously approved April 30 a request by Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day and Council member Kevin McKeown to direct staff to update the Move to Amend resolution approved Jan. 22 so it would include Move to Amend’s national campaign this week and bring the matter to a vote four days later.
McKeown made clear the agenda item was merely a request to bring the issue up for discussion at the council’s next meeting.
Council members would discuss, deliberate, and vote on the matter May 14.
When the council approved a resolution on the matter in January, it opened the door for City Hall to approve a sustainability bill of rights and to limit the rights of big business in public campaigns and elections.
At the heart of the issues is whether corporations may maintain they are extensions of people and are therefore entitled to similar constitutionally-protected rights, such as free speech.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled corporations were not to be limited in the amount of money they expend in public elections. The ruling held money is a form of speech worthy of First Amendment protection. Limiting the amount of financing a corporation donated to a campaign effectively abridged the corporation’s First Amendment rights to free speech.
According to the Move to Amend website, May 10 is a “day of action against corporate personhood.”
“Corporate Personhood was concocted by corporate lawyers 127 years ago. On May 10, 1886 in the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the Court is said to have given corporations their first foothold in the Constitution,” the website read.
“In the case, corporations argued they are protected under the 14th amendment – the amendment passed to ensure equal protection of African Americans after slavery was abolished. Since then, there has been case after case in which the Court expanded the Constitutional “rights” of corporations,” the website continued.
The May 10 “day of action” falls on the 127 year anniversary of the creation of corporate personhood, according to Move to Amend.
The group adds on its website that Move to Amend activists “will be displaying freeway banners all across the nation” on May 10 in protest of corporate personhood.
There are limitations to how the Supreme Court’s decisions concerning corporate personhood may be reversed.
Congress does not have direct power to override a Supreme Court ruling. Instead, if the Supreme Court interprets a specific portion of the Constitution and its amendments, Congress, in cooperation with the states, may seek a new constitutional amendment to change the very issue it disagrees with.
Interestingly enough, if the Supreme Court solely bases its decision on an interpretation of federal law, Congress may challenge that interpretation with an amendment or correction to that specific piece of legislation.
And another twist is still possible. If the Supreme Court invalidates a law based upon the Constitution, Congress may “correct” that legislation with new language that either circumvents or factors in the justices’ decision.