April 13, 2011
Fort Bragg, California, Madison, Wisconsin, and Dane County, Wisconsin all recently passed resolutions calling for amending the U.S. Constitution to revoke corporate personhood. In Fort Bragg, the resolution was passed by a vote of City Council, with all members present voting in favor (one member in opposition was not present). See a video testimony here. The Fort Bragg success is the first step of a local effort to get all Mendocino County communities to pass similar resolutions and then press for county-level action.
In Wisconsin’s capital, Madison and in Dane County (which contains Madison), the resolutions were subject to citizen vote and passed overwhelmingly, gaining 84% of the vote in Madison and 78% in the county. The city referendum calls for amending the Constitution to clarify “only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights.”
The Madison resolution reads: Shall the City of Madison adopt the following resolution:
RESOLVED, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, calls for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:
- Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and
- Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.
Dane County residents approved this resolution: “Should the US Constitution be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech, by stating that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights?”
Last fall, South Central Wisconsin Move to Amend collected over 15,000 signatures to place the Madison language on the ballot via citizen initiative. They fell short of the requirement, but convinced Madison City Council to place the question on the ballot as a referendum. Congratulations to our allies in Wisconsin!
If you’re ready to help spread this organizing process to your community, on May 3rd Move to Amend holds its monthly Local Action Webinar and the topic will be “Passing Community Resolutions.” Register (free) here. Also, check out the Move to Amend map of towns and cities that have passed resolutions or ordinances against corporate personhood.
While language for ballot questions necessarily is brief, for votes by elected bodies, more thorough resolutions may be useful to get your educational message out. See, for example, language used by ReclaimDemocracy.org members to pass a resolution in the diverse city of Richmond, CA earlier this spring.