On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council will vote on a resolution urging Congress to do something it has not done in almost 20 years: ratify a new amendment to the constitution.
The issue at hand: declaring that only living persons are entitled to constitutional rights — not corporations. One group, Move To Amend, has started an online petition to push the resolution from city councils to Congress. The group contends that the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision should be declared unconstitutional.
In that decision, the justices ruled that the First Amendment right to free speech extended to corporation, nonprofit and union spending on campaigns.
The decision has become a rallying point against what many people see as too-close relationship between the government and corporations. In August, at a campaign stop, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney fueled fears when he told a angry audience member, “Corporations are people, my friend.”
The Move To Amend petition asks that an amendment establish “only living persons -- not corporations -- are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech,” according to a press release on the group’s Web site.
The amendment has some way to go from a city council vote to two-thirds of the states ratifying a constitutional amendment. The group recognizes that this may seem a futile fight. One of its frequently asked questions on its site is: “Are you serious about this?” The answer: “The Motion to Amend is the beginning of a multi-year movement to amend the Constitution.”
It could be quite a few years. The last amendment to be ratified — in 1992 — was first proposed in 1789. It took 203 years until it was written into the Constitution.