The Cleveland Heights Move to Amend group on Monday delivered a petition featuring more than 3,000 signatures to City Hall calling for a November ballot issue that, if approved, would bolster the city's opposition to a contentious 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that concluded independent election spending by corporations could not be limited by government regulations.
The national Move to Amend organization formed in response to the landmark "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission" ruling, which it claims "expanded never-intended constitutional rights for coporations...(and) resulted in record sums of spending on political advertising by corporations and wealthy individuals in 2012 through SuperPACs and 501, c-4 social welfare organizations - structures that shielded the sources of much of the political contributions."
To date, Move to Amend has spearheaded the passage of resolutions in 450 municipalities - including Cleveland Heights last June - calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution "to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights."
If approved, the proposed November ballot issue would require Cleveland Heights officials to write letters to the city's federal and state representatives stating that its residents have "voted for a Constitutional Amendment declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess constitutional rights and that money is not equivalent to political speech." Cleveland Heights Move to Amend is also calling for an annual public meeting sponsored by the city to "explore the meaning of democracy and the impact of political money from all sources" on the community.
"In a way, Citizens United was simply the logical result of the increasing power of all kinds of corporate entities - including unions - in our electorial system," Cleveland Heights Move to Amend spokesperson Carla Rautenberg said. "It made blindingly obvious and substantially worse, what had already been taking place for decades."
City Law Director John Gibbon said he will be reviewing the City Charter to determine if the petition meets the requirements for the issue to appear on the November ballot.
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