Portland City Council Urges Constitutional Amendment to Address Citizens United

For immediate release: January 12, 2012

For more information contact: Janice Thompson, 503-283-1922

Portland City Council Urges Constitutional Amendment to address Citizens United

Today the Portland City Council joined a growing list of cities in adopting a resolution urging a change in the constitution to address Citizens United as well as money not being speech and corporations not being people.

Common Cause Oregon’s executive director Janice Thompson testified in support along with representatives from Portland Alliance for Democracy, Move to Amend, and Occupy Portland. Many other city residents spoke as individuals about money hijacking democracy and the need for this kind of local action. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for independent spending on federal campaigns by corporate entities.

“It was an informative hearing on a resolution that objects to corporations being given undue unconstitutional protections and seeks to broaden opportunities to regulate independent expenditures like those made by presidential SuperPACs,” said Thompson.

The resolution was brought forward by Mayor Sam Adams who said, “The discussion in front of us is not a big rhetorical discussion about whether corporations are good or bad. It depends on the corporation. This resolution is about what kind of electoral system the U.S. wants to design.”

The resolution traced the legal history of Citizens United and the fiction that corporations are people. It also requires a legal assessment of the feasibility of placing a ballot measure on these topics for a popular vote by Portlanders.

“This is just one step, but one that is both important and timely given the upcoming 2nd anniversary of the Citizens United decision on January 21st,” concluded Thompson.