San Francisco voters could have a chance in November to denounce a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the First Amendment allows corporations to spend as much as they want backing or opposing political candidates.
Although critics of the Board of Supervisors often deride such local policy statements about federal affairs as a waste of time, supervisors supporting the so-called Repealing Corporate Personhood declaration defend their proposal.
“As we are seeing the rise of great corporate influence over what’s happening in our public realm … we need to be able to fight back with statements like this from the public,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the proposed measure. “San Francisco is ripe for making such a statement this November on the ballot.”
The declaration says that San Franciscans believe “corporations should not receive the same constitutional rights as natural persons because the expenditure of corporate money is not a form of constitutionally-protected speech, and limits on political spending will promote goals of the First Amendment, by ensuring that all citizens, regardless of wealth, have an opportunity to have their political views heard.”
Supervisor David Campos said the measure was needed because change will not come from within the political system. “It is important for the people of the United States to step in and say this is not the way the democracy should work,” Campos said.
The policy would instruct The City’s representatives in Washington, D.C., “to pass a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending and end artificial corporate rights.” The 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission greatly expanded the political rights of corporations.
The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee approved the measure Monday. The full board is expected to vote next Tuesday on whether to place it onto the ballot.