"End Corporate Personhood" Case Heard By Utah Supreme Court

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CONTACT: Jesse Fruhwirth, Move to Amend Salt Lake, 435-228-8087

SALT LAKE CITY—Move to Amend Salt Lake provided oral argument to the Utah Supreme Court today, defending the constitutionality of their ballot resolution that requests voter-endorsement of a Constitutional amendment that would say corporations are not people, and money is not speech.

The case hinges on Utah citizens' Constitutional right to direct democracy contained in Article 1 section 6 of the Utah Constitution. The high court's decision in the case could widen the direct democracy rights of all Utah citizens.

“We're outraged that any government body would fail to see that a right to direct democracy must incorporate the citizens' right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble through the ballot initiative process,” said Ashley Sanders of Move to Amend Salt Lake after the court hearing. “We have hopes, however, that the relentless attack on democracy coming primarily from the corporate-controlled state legislature will be halted by the Supreme Court decision in this case.”

At issue is whether an advisory resolution properly qualifies as “legislation,” which citizens have a right to initiative under the Constitution. Seventy-five years ago, the court ruled that “legislation” does not include advisory resolutions that have no immediate legal impact.

Move to Amend Salt Lake's Caleb Proulx, in his argument before the court, referenced the story from 1777 to demonstrate Move to Amend's argument that some statements are far too important and grave to be excluded from the concept of “legislation.”

In 1777, Proulx told the court, a Presbyterian congregation was alerted that British soldiers had invaded Pennsylvania and that the American revolution needed assistance. At once, the congregation left their church services and gathered around a giant oak tree, held hands, and solemnly promised their support for the revolution. That tree came to be known as “The Promise Tree.”

“I mention this story of The Promise Tree,” Proulx told the court, “to show that a statement can be a very bold act,” not merely a frivolous, parochial or non-binding opinion.

Move to Amend, a nationwide grassroots effort to amend the Constitution, urges citizens to join a new revolution, one to declare independence from corporate rule and support a new era of reinvigorated democracy.

Citizens across the country are building an ever-growing list of municipalities that have already declared their support for a Constitutional amendment to enable an end to corporate rule. Vermont is the first state to ratify the proposed amendment.

Move to Amend Salt Lake began gathering over 11,000 signatures from Salt Lake City voters in February 2012 with the intention of placing the initiative on the 2012 ballot. Those signatures were validated and proved to be legally sufficient, but Salt Lake City, citing state law and Supreme Court precedent, rejected the resolution.

The Salt Lake City Council and Mayor's office, the ostensible opponents at the Supreme Court hearing, actually support Move to Amend's goals. In solidarity with Move to Amend's push for more direct democracy, the council is considering new ordinances that would enable citizen-lead ballot resolutions on municipal-election ballots.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.MovetoAmend.org and www.AmendSaltLake.org.