Citizens United and the Proposed Amendment to our Constitution

Dear Members of the Palo Alto City Council and All Concerned Citizens beyond:

The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center–(I’m a long time member)–wants to move to amend the constitution to reverse the holding in the recent,

U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v The Federal Elections Commission (2010)

I am taking the opposite position and believe that any such amendment would have a severe negative impact on our First Amendment rights.

At the June 14, 2012 meeting of the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission the PPJC folks pushed through a resolution in support of the Move to Amend folks by a 3 votes for the resolution–2 abstentions and 2 members of the HRC were not present.

The PPJC folks then put out an e-mail claiming that the HRC passed the resolution–to move on to the city council for a subsequent vote–unanimously (e-mail with this claim given to all council members on June 18, 2012)—wow!!!, stretching credibility to the breaking point in my view.

Here is the ACLU amicus brief (see link below) in support of Citizens United as well as two short opinion pieces on the implications of Citizens United–re corporate spending and political influence (myths and reality) and some of the First Amendment concerns that are raised by the possible over–turning of Citizens Untied by a future U.S. Supreme Court and or by a constitutional amendment as proposed by the Move To Amend folks. 

(1)  ACLU Amicus Brief                

(2)  Guest opinion: ACLU`s support for Citizens United

(3)  The Truth About Citizens United and Outside Campaign Cash                          

***It is clear to me that the issues surrounding this very controversial case/issue will not soon be going away. Given that in the next few months–the resolution to amend the constitution and to reverse the holding in Citizens United–and related issues re run away corporations–excessive financial expenditures by certain corporations–the impact of the ruling on non-profit corporations, does money equal speech?, is a corporation a person for purposes of the constitution?,–and the impact on our First Amendment–and more particularly–one of, if not the core principals of the First Amendment–the right of citizens to engage in a robust expression of political beliefs and advocacy–including the right to spend money in support of said advocacy–are all legitimate concerns to be addressed and debated before the city council should vote on this resolution to amend our constitution:

As such I propose the following:

(4) That the City of Palo Alto should hold several forums on the above issues with experts on both side of the issues being selected to address the public re all of the above issues and concerns.

(5) That the Palo Alto City Attorney’s office be directed to review the proposed resolution to amend our constitution–in addition to making a detailed review of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and subsequent Supreme Court pronouncements on the matter–and to prepare a detailed memorandum for the city council and the citizens of Palo Alto addressing all of the above issues.

This memorandum should be made available well in advance of any vote taken by the city council re the resolution to amend our constitution.

4 Replies to “Citizens United and the Proposed Amendment to our Constitution”

  1. Palo Alto’s Human Relations Commission Recent Decision:

    Human Relations Commission Recommends Adoption of a Resolution In Support of an Amendment to the United States and California Constitutions to State “Corporations are Not People and Money is Not Speech” in Response to United States Supreme Court Decision of Citizen’s United vs. Federal Communications Commission.

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