Legislators in San Francisco are taking aim at the role of corporations in American politics with a new bill that would make it official city policy to oppose the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
"Although corporations can and do make important contributions to our society using advantages that the government has wisely granted them, the people of the city and county of San Francisco do not consider them natural persons," reads the text of the non-binding policy statement being introduced Tuesday by Supervisor John Avalos.
The measure states that campaign contributions should not be considered the same as political speech and pushes for increased restrictions on campaign spending.
"It is also the position of the people of the city....[that the] ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission...presents a serious threat to democracy by rolling back remaining legal limits on corporate spending in the electoral process," the bill reads, "allowing unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, and policy decisions; and potentially unleashing unprecedented amounts of corporate money into our political process."
The Supreme Court's 2010 ruling freed up corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns through the use of Super PACs.
The measure would put San Francisco on record as being opposed to the political system's ever-increasing reliance on corporate cash and push the city's representatives in Washington to work towards campaign finance reform. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, it will go before voters in November.
"As we are seeing the rise of great corporate influence over what's happening in our public realm...we need to be able to fight back with statements like this from the public," Avalos told the San Francisco Examiner. "San Francisco is ripe for making such a statement this November on the ballot."
Other cities around the country--such as Los Angeles, Oakland and New York--have enacted similar resolutions condemning Citizens United. In July, the California Assembly joined state legislatures in Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island and New Mexico in passing a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the controversial Supreme Court ruling.
Check out this video showing how the Supreme Court has curbed efforts by individual states to counter Citizens United: