Corporate Constitutional Rights Challenged in Portland

January 12, 2012

City Hall has just approved a Resolution to Abolish Corporate Constitutional Rights with the Occupy Portland Solutions Committee’s recommended changes. Next step – Occupy the Courts Jan. 20th!

Erin Madden, Occupy Portland


Portland, OR – On January 12, at 4:40 p.m., the Portland City Council adopted an historic resolution supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution making clear that corporations are not people and money is not speech. The resolution is supported by the Occupy Portland Solutions Committee, which organized a major outreach campaign to strengthen the resolution’s language before the vote. “By passing this resolution, the City takes a huge step toward protecting the 99% whose voices are drowned out by unregulated corporate campaign spending,” said Erin Madden, member of the Occupy Portland Solutions Committee.

The Portland City Council joins the city councils in Los Angeles, New York City, and Duluth, MN, calling on Congress to send a constitutional amendment to the states for ratification that overturns the infamous 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission by making clear that corporations are not entitled to the rights of natural persons protected by the U.S. Constitution and that money is not speech protected by the First Amendment.

The Citizens United decision held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting independent expenditures by corporations in order to influence elections. This holding was based on the premise that corporations are people entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution and money is political speech.

Mayor Adams proposed the resolution after the Occupy Portland General Assembly passed a proposal in October, 2011 to end “corporate personhood.” Members of the Occupy Portland Solutions Committee worked with Move to Amend Portland to generate nearly 2,000 comments to City Council calling for specific revisions to the original text of the resolution and requesting a referral of the issue to the voters.

“The revisions were necessary in order to make clear that corporations are not entitled to any of the rights possessed by natural persons and protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Madden. Members of Occupy Portland met with the Mayor’s staff and proposed language to address the issue of corporate privileges versus the rights of natural persons. This language was ultimately adopted in the revised resolution.

Next Step: Occupy the Courts
On January 20, 2012, Occupy Portland will join Move to Amend Portland in Pioneer Courthouse Square at noon for a rally and march, as part of a national day of action called Occupy the Courts. This action commemorates the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision and calls for a constitutional amendment to restore democracy for the 99%. (Photo and video opportunities)

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