LAKEWOOD, Ohio – City Council Monday night approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish "corporate personhood."
One councilman, Shawn Juris, voted against the measure, saying he didn't think it was a solution to campaign finance spending issues.
About a half-dozen Move to Amend volunteers earlier this year submitted a petition with 538 signatures asking council approve a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment declaring "corporations are not people and money is not speech."
The Lakewood residents are joining groups across the country trying to enlist local cities in weighing in on a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, in which the court concluded election spending by corporations could not be limited by government regulations and that political spending is a form of protected speech.
The resolution approved by Lakewood City Council supports a constitutional amendment establishing that corporations are not entitled to the same rights as individuals and that the federal government should be entitled to place limits on political spending by corporations to eliminate an "unequal playing field."
"It's very important that Lakewood make its voice heard," Move to Amend spokeswoman Katie Steinmuller told City Council. "We need to let our legislators in Columbus and Washington know that we do not support the current doctrine of corporations as people and money as speech."
Council approved the resolution, but Juris cast a dissenting vote.
"This is not one I agree with in the way it's described who's wearing the black hats and who's wearing the white hats," Juris said. "There are plenty of problems that exist within federal campaign finances, and I don't believe this is something that will resolve those issues."
Councilman Thomas Bullock spoke in favor of passage, saying it is important that people who don't have the financial backing of corporations have a right to have their voices heard.
"We want a level playing field and an equal voice in our government," Bullock said.
Council reached an agreement with the Move to Amend members that dropped a requirement in the resolution that the city sponsor a "We the Public" forum every two years and publicize the event. The forum would have focused on the impact of "nonhuman legal entities" and their money on elections. Several council members said they felt uncomfortable with that provision. Also removed was a requirement the mayor every two years to send a letter to Ohio and federal legislators representing Lakewood that city residents have concerns about unlimited political spending by corporations and political action committees.