Dave Meserve: Corps Ain’t Peeps Initiative Gathering Sigs – February 27, 2012
We the people of Arcata hold these truths to be self evident: Corporations are not people. Money is not speech. This statement is the preamble to a ballot initiative ordinance that supporters hope will come before Arcata voters in November, 2012.
Many in Arcata and around the nation are concerned about the corrupting influence of unlimited corporate money in American politics, which was highlighted by the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010. This ruling declared that for purposes of campaign contributions, corporations are people, with unlimited contribution rights.
”This is absurd on its face,” said initiative sponsor Dave Meserve. “Clearly, corporations are artificial entities separate and apart from human beings and are not naturally endowed with consciousness or human rights.” Meserve hopes this new campaign, known as “Corps Ain’t Peeps,” will begin to change that.
The proposed ordinance states that::
To the full extent legally possible under federal and state law, and with the long term goal of changing any federal or state laws that may oppose this ordinance, Within the City of Arcata, CA, corporations shall not have the rights of “Persons” or “The People,” as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Only living, breathing human beings shall have such rights.
According to Meserve, the reason for this ordinance is to prevent corporations, within the City of Arcata, from claiming Constitutional rights that were granted to “The People” or to “Persons.”
“We need to level the playing field,” said initiative co-sponsor David Boyd. “We need fairness, not the best government that corporate money can buy.”
In a necessary step prior to the campaign launch, the Arcata city attorney issued the required Ballot Title and Summary, with the following wording:
AN INITIATIVE DECLARING THAT CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PERSONS SUMMARY:
This Initiative makes a declaratory statement that within the City of Arcata, corporations are not natural persons and are not entitled to the protections granted by the United States Constitution to natural persons.
The stated purpose of this Initiative is a long-term goal of changing federal and/or state law to be consistent with this understanding of corporations.
The ordinance acknowledges that it may be opposed by some existing laws and limits its implementation “to the full extent legally possible” under such existing laws. By not directly opposing existing federal and state laws, the wording of the ordinance makes legal challenge unlikely.
This ordinance is intended to complement nationwide efforts to amend the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United court decision.
Arcata voters are encouraged to support both this ordinance and an expected county-wide ballot resolution to that effect. To that end, the following language also appears in the ordinance preamble:
We support amending the U.S. Constitution to establish that:
1. Corporations are not natural persons, and the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
2. Money is not speech, and the spending of money to influence elections is not protected speech.
On February 23, local volunteers will begin gathering the 1000-plus signatures necessary to place this measure on the November ballot. Organizers hope to have the signatures collected by the end of April.
Those wishing to help with this effort can contact Dave Meserve at (707) 834-3612.