On Tuesday, Los Angeles could become the first city to officially endorse amending the United States Constitution to state that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights and that spending money is not a form of free speech.
As Daily Kos reports, at 10am Tuesday, the City Council will vote on a motion to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. FEC. Council president Eric Garcetti drafted the resolution in response to a Move to Amend presentation made at the South Robertson Neighborhood Council, which is within Garcetti's district.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles City Council announced at a 1pm press conference on Tuesday that it has unanimously approved the resolution supporting a constitutional amendment to deny corporate personhood.
On its website, Move to Amend explains that it is a national coalition "dedicated to ending the illegitimate legal doctrines that prevent the American people from governing ourselves." The group has already led Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin; Missoula, Montana; and Boulder, Colorado, to pass voter initiatives with the same goal of ending "corporate personhood" and the notion that money is speech through a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Los Angeles city council will be the first city council to vote directly on the resolution.
In the video below, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend national field director, explained that it was the group's intention to pass resolutions at several Los Angeles neighborhood councils. She continued, "But actually a council member was so into the idea that he picked it up and ... wrote a resolution."
That council member, Eric Garcetti, introduced his drafted resolution in October to the city's Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, which, on Nov. 2, held a public hearing to discuss the draft. According to Daily Kos, more than a hundred people filled two rooms at City Hall to encourage officials to use strong language in the final resolution.
Move to Amend explains on its website that its "strategy is to work on the local level before moving on to the state or federal level to build a grassroots movement organized and powerful enough to force Congress to act." With a goal of 50 resolutions on local ballots before the 2012 presidential election, Move to Amend has volunteers working in dozens of cities to get resolutions supporting a U.S. amendment on local ballots. Mary Beth Fielder, coordinator of Move To Amend LA, told The Huffington Post that, "As the first major city in the United States to take this action, we hope we will help build momentum and galvanize other communities to do the same."
Fielder continued about the movement as a whole, "With the passage of this resolution, the people of Los Angeles will send a powerful message to our elected officials that we are serious about putting citizens back in control of our government and breaking the strangle hold that Wall Street and big multinational corporations have over our democratic process. People have felt a sense of despair for a long time, knowing that no matter what we, the voters want, in the end our representatives don't really represent us but instead devise policies for the benefit of their big money donors."
Move to Amend's website states it received official endorsement from Occupy LA, which isn't easy to get. The growing number of other supporters include Common Cause, LA County Federation of Labor, Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Environmental Caucus of the CA Democratic Party, Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, MoveOn LA, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, Democracy for America, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, AFSCME 36, LA Green Machine and California Clean Money Campaign.
The coalition encourages Angelenos to join the effort by filling the City Hall chambers Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., when the council will vote on the resolution. The group also encourages supporters to call their city council members now and to sign the national petition to amend the Constitution.