Press release from the Canary Coalition:
On the 6th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, the Board of Commissioners of the town of Sylva, NC voted unanimously to pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Amendment that would reverse that decision while clarifying that only real people, not corporations, have the rights guaranteed to citizens.
This resolution and similar ones are being considered and passed by hundreds of local government bodies like the Sylva Town Council, throughout the nation, calling for a new US Constitutional Amendment that will overturn the 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that defined corporations as people and corporate money spent on political campaign contributions as a form of free speech that cannot be regulated.
In explaining why its important for local governments to adopt this resolution, grassroots organizations point to the fact that this Supreme Court decision has had a profound impact on the ability of local governments to effectively serve their communities.
For instance, in North Carolina, because of the influence gained from vast corporate political campaign contributions to state legislative leaders and the Governor, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful conglomerate of corporate interests with an extreme right-wing agenda was able to write and muscle through passage of a law that limits the ability of local governments to review and improve local environment regulations, such as limiting or banning fracking, improving steep slope ordinance requirements, protecting water quality and air quality.
The same corporate political influence has resulted in legislation that takes money needed by local public schools and forces school boards to transfer funds to charter schools and private school vouchers.
The same corporate political influence has resulted in the state refusing federal Medicaid money available from the Federal Government that would cover medical expenses for half a million low-income and needy North Carolinians including about 1600 in Jackson County, many of whom live in the town of Sylva.
The same corporate political influence has resulted in what many consider to be the most repressive voter ID law in the country that makes it difficult or prohibitive for many people in Sylva and Jackson County to vote, especially people who are low-income and can’t drive, minorities, students and the elderly.
These issues and more are the reason that five other local municipal governments in western North Carolina have also signed-on to this resolution asking our state government to join those states who are petitioning the Federal Government to create a new Constitutional Amendment to end corporate personhood. This includes the towns of Franklin, Bryson City, Highlands, Webster and Forest Hills. In addition, last January, the Jackson County Commissioners passed this resolution to make this the first county in the western part of the state to join this national movement.
Nationwide to date 542 local governments have passed similar resolutions.
Eleven states have voted to petition Congress for this Constitutional Amendment. Nine other states are in the process of considering this petition.
Today, the Town of Sylva has joined with these other communities and the county commissioners in standing up for the rights and needs of the people who live here and for preserving the democratic principles of the nation.