On Wednesday, California and New York City lawmakers introduced resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United decision which characterized political spending as free speech and paved the way for unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns.
Similar measures have passed in a number of cities, including Los Angeles, Albany and Oakland.
New York’s City Council passed a non-binding resolution Wednesday opposing corporate personhood – the idea that corporations are entitled to the same legal rights as individual people, including the First Amendment right to free speech.
Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, author of “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It,” believes that ending the idea of corporate personhood alone is not enough to eliminate the influence of special interests and restore democracy.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Lessig said, “Democracy was already broken in the United States in 2010 [before the court’s Citizens United decision]. And it’s broken because the tiniest slice of Americans, 0.26 percent, fund—give more than $200 in a congressional campaign. 0.05 percent max out in a congressional campaign. The tiniest slice of the top 1 percent of America funds elections in America. And that reality will always, whether corporations are persons or not, corrupt the system in Washington.”
To address the problem, Lessig promotes a constitutional amendment that publicly fund federal elections, sharply limit campaign contributions, and limit independent political expenditures within 90 days of an election.
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