On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations are "persons." Consequently, the court equated corporate money spent in our elections with free speech, expanding corporate power. Now, corporations promote their own interests by supporting politicians who do their bidding as never before.
Granting corporations rights that should only belong to individuals, treating them like people, is a corruption of our democracy. Corporate influence over political processes through lobbying, PACs, and PR was already rampant before 2010; moreover, corporations have a long history of committing egregious crimes with little or no accountability, making their mark upon us more baleful. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens have little voice or influence over processes now dominated by wealthy, corporate interests.
Move to Amend is a national movement with over 600 cities having adopted resolutions, ordinances, or charter amendments requiring local hearings on corporate personhood and official statements calling for a constitutional amendment asserting that corporations are not persons and money is not speech. Kent is making Ohio and national news in challenging "corporate personhood" and joining other communities to restore our democracy and stop the creep of corruption.
Other cities in Ohio that have passed similar legislation include Mentor, Cleveland Heights, Chagrin Falls, Brecksville, and Defiance. See MoveToAmend.org to learn about the national movement. Kent Citizens for Democracy urges Kent voters to join other communities across our nation, rejecting the notions of corporate personhood and money as speech. For more about the local effort, see KentDemocracy.org.
Kent voters will have a chance to amend our city's charter to designate a "Democracy Day" public forum each October. If the initiative passes, the forum will be publicized on the city website and in local media. Residents will be allowed to speak on corporate personhood, money in politics, and other related topics for five-minutes each. After annual forums, the City will send all public comments to state-level representatives and congressional legislators from Ohio. Ultimately, the goal of these public hearings is to amend the U.S. Constitution, ending corporate personhood and money as speech.
Although this issue is the last on Kent voter's ballots, it should be first in our minds. Let us begin the process of restoring, improving our democracy and strike a blow against the corruption of corporate money in our elections -- Vote "Yes" on Issue 43.
Perry Phillips is a member of Kent Citizens for Democracy