Corvallis Ballot Measure 02-81: MTA Advisory Question for the November 2012 Ballot

September 1, 2012

SECTION I. FINDINGS AND DECLARATIONS
We, the citizens of Corvallis:
A. Find:
Artificial entities created by law such as corporations, limited liability companies, and unions can and do make important contributions to our society. Over time, the judiciary has asserted that these entities have many Constitutional rights guaranteed to natural persons, including freedom of speech and equal protection, that have allowed unfair advantages over local community democratic processes.
Declare:
Only natural persons have inalienable rights under the Constitution. Artificial entities should remain subject to regulation by laws enacted by the people and their representatives.
B. Find:
Free speech is a fundamental freedom and inalienable right of natural persons, and free and fair elections are essential to democracy.  Unlimited monetary expenditures on elections for public office and ballot measures drown out the speech of ordinary people and have a disenfranchising, even disheartening effect on citizens, and thus threaten our democracy.
Declare:
Spending money to influence elections is not speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The people and their representatives must have the ability to regulate campaign financing.
C. Find:
Unlimited and unregulated spending on election campaigns contributes to the dependence of candidates for public office on very large campaign donors. This raises the likelihood that elected officials will be more responsive to those donors and therefore less responsive to the majority of their constituents.  This fosters corruption, and results in the largest donors exerting more influence on the laws, policies, and actions of the United States than does the average citizen.
Declare:
To ensure the independence of elected representatives from undue influence, expenditures on campaigns for public offices must be subject to regulation by citizens and the democratic process.
D. Find:
Historically, the U.S. Constitution has only been amended through the legislative process.
Declare:
To ensure that Constitutional rights are afforded to natural persons only, and to eliminate the effects of unlimited money on our elections, the Constitution must be amended and the citizens of Corvallis petition the Congress to do so.

SECTION II. TEXT OF PETITION
The Mayor and City Council shall convey the following to the elected federal, state, and county representatives of the citizens of Corvallis:
“The citizens of Corvallis, recognizing that corporations are not natural persons, and money is not speech, support a Constitutional amendment that includes the following provisions.
1a. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
1b. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, unions and other entities established by law shall not have inalienable rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by laws enacted by the people and their representatives.
1c. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by laws enacted by the people and their representatives, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
2a. Government at all levels shall:
i. regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing, in any way, the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
ii. require that all permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed within a reasonable time limit to be prescribed by law.
2b. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections and public policy, to be speech under the First Amendment.
2c. Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”

BALLOT TITLE
Advisory Question
Caption
U.S. Constitutional Amendment Addressing Artificial Entities’ Personhood and Campaign Contributions 
        
Question
Shall the City urge elected representatives to support Constitutional Amendment denying artificial entities’ personhood  and rejecting money as speech?
        
Summary
This non-binding advisory question regards legal decisions that affect campaign financing of elections at all levels (city, county, state, and nation), based on the Supreme Court interpretation of the U. S. Constitution. This question asks whether the City should inform elected officials  that the voters in Corvallis believe United States Constitution should be amended to limit constitutional rights to natural persons only, and to specify that campaign contributions and money spent in election campaigns is not speech protected by the First Amendment.  Decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court currently afford inalienable constitutional rights to artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and unions.  The Court also currently extends the free speech provision of the First Amendment to the expenditure of money by both natural persons and artificial entities in election campaigns. The proposed amendment would guarantee the ability of governments at all levels to limit the privileges of artificial entities.  The amendment would guarantee the ability of governments to regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures  for election campaigns.
 

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