Cetera and Green Party Urge Syracuse Common Council to Vote to Overturn “Citizens United” Ruling

Syracuse NY– On Monday, June 22, the Syracuse Common Council will vote on a resolution favoring a U.S. Constitutional Amendment that would allow greater limits on the influence of money in elections. Frank Cetera, Green Party candidate for Syracuse Common Council, added his support to the 1,107 Syracuse city residents who have signed the petition calling for the amendment.  An affirmative vote would make Syracuse the 665th municipality nationwide to call for such an amendment, and the 21st in New York State.

“Syracuse makes an important statement in support of democracy with this resolution,  where everyone’s voice and vote matter. Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. Democracy is for people – that’s why in my campaign for Syracuse Common Council, I and green Party candidates do not accept donations from for-profit business”, said Frank Cetera.

“Furthermore, we must end the current pay-to-play culture that plagues New York politics, from state government down to our local government. Candidates for public office should be prohibited from accepting political campaign contributions from businesses that do business and sign contracts with the city of Syracuse. Ending play-to-play is essential if we want a Syracuse for all of us, not just those who can afford to buy political favors.”  

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending coming from groups that do not disclose their donors has risen from 1 percent to 47 percent since the 2006 midterm elections…[and] spending by outside groups has quadrupled. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2011/05/citizens-united-decision-profoundly-affects-political-landscape.html.  Meanwhile, an August 2012 AP/Roper poll found that 83% of Americans want to limit the money corporations, unions and other organizations can contribute to influence campaigns. http://freespeechforpeople.org/node/448.

Current Supreme Court rulings assert that a corporation is a legal person entitled to many of the constitutional rights intended for human beings and that corporate spending to influence elections is the equivalent of political free speech.

The resolution, as submitted to the Council by Move To Amend, states “That the Syracuse Common Council supports an amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that (1) artificial legal entities are not entitled to the same rights and protections as natural persons under the Constitution, (2) spending money to influence elections is not “free speech” as defined under the First Amendment, assuring the power of the federal, state, and local governments to limit, regulate, and require disclosure of sources of all money spent to influence elections.”

“Corporate personhood is not an inconsequential legal technicality. The Supreme Court ruled that a corporation was a ‘legal person’ with 14th Amendment protections before they granted full personhood to African-Americans, immigrants, natives, or women,” said David Cobb, a national Move To Amend spokesperson (and 2004 Green Party Presidential candidate) at a Syracuse forum last year.  “We are inspired by historic social movements that recognized the necessity of altering fundamental power relationships,” said Cobb.  “America has progressed through ordinary people joining together—from the Revolutionaries to Abolitionists, Suffragists, Trade Unionists, and Civil Rights activists through to today. Move to Amend is a long-term effort to make the U.S. Constitution more democratic.”

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