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Ohio voters proclaim corporations are not people, money is not speech

Ohio voters proclaim corporations are not people, money is not speech

Published: November 7, 2013
Greg Coleridge

Greg Coleridge directs AFSC's work for economic and political justice in Northeast Ohio and coordinates Move to Amend Ohio.

Photo: AFSC / Jon Krieg

To listen to a related story on Central Ohio NPR, click here.

Cleveland Heights and Defiance voters decisively passed local ordinances on Tuesday, November 5 instructing their respective cities to inform federal and state elected officials that voters want a U.S. Constitutional Amendment ending constitutional rights for corporations and overturning the legal doctrine of money being considered equivalent to speech.

The measure in Cleveland Heights passed with over 77% percent of the vote, while 67% of Defiance voters passed their initiative. Both ballot measures were a result of earlier citizen petition campaigns organized by democracy activists connected to the national Move to Amend (MTA) coalition. 

MTA was formed following the 2010 Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision expanding never-intended constitutional rights to corporations and widening the constitutional doctrine that money is equivalent to free speech. Huge sums of political money into the 2010 and 2012 elections through SuperPACs and other non-transparent groups, resulted in the drowning out the political voices of individuals and groups who work for economic justice and peace. 

More than 500 communities nationwide have enacted either council resolutions or ballot initiatives with equivalent Move to Amend language, including ballot measures in Brecksville and Newburgh Heights Ohio last year. City Councils in Athens, Oberlin, Barberton and Fremont have passed similar council resolutions. Petition drives and council resolutions campaigns are currently underway in several other Ohio municipalities. 

Ohio Move to Amend is a network of 17 local affiliates and partner groups in the state that help inform, advice and coordinate local actions on behalf of the national MTA coalition. 

"Voters in Cleveland Heights and Defiance have joined an ever-growing number of voters and citizens of all political backgrounds across the nation who believe our nation isn't broken, but fixed -- as in politically rigged to benefit corporate entities and the super wealthy," said Greg Coleridge, coordinator of the Ohio MTA network and Director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee in Cuyahoga Falls. "Corporations were intended to be politically subordinate, not equal to human beings with inalienable constitutional rights. And if money is speech, then those who have the most money have the most speech. Voters realize that only fundamental reform, such as amending the U.S. Constitution to end the bizarre doctrines that corporations are people and money is speech, are essential steps toward a real democracy where people's needs trump special interests," said Coleridge.

The Cleveland Heights and Defiance ballot measures also call for periodic City-sponsored public hearings to examine the impact of political influence by corporate entities and big money in elections. Move to Amend activists in both communities will soon contact their respective City officials to begin planning for those events, which will be open to the entire community. 

To listen to a related story on Central Ohio NPR, click here.