California lawmakers waded into the ongoing battle over corporate money in politics Thursday with a resolution that supports overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which has led to a flood of money from deep-pocketed donors in this year’s presidential race. “People are tired of getting beat up by a few corporations that sometimes have a fringe point of view,” said Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who introduced the resolution with Assemblymen Michael Allen, D- Santa Rosa. The Assembly passed the resolution on a 48-22 vote. It rejects the notion of corporate personhood and calls on Congress to pursue a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 decision saying corporations can spend unlimited sums to influence elections.
Democrats said the resolution is an important first step toward overturning the ruling that granted “personhood” rights to corporations, which they say has made it harder for ordinary citizens to have a voice in the political process. The New Mexico and Hawaii legislatures have passed similar resolutions with the support of the groups Public Citizen and Common Cause.
Several Republican lawmakers spoke against the resolution, saying corporations have a right to influence elections because they are subject to government regulations. They echoed the Supreme Court’s ruling that political contributions are a form of speech. “What is a corporation? It’s an assembly of people,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks. “And doesn’t the first amendment say that we have a right to lawfully assembly and seek redress from out government for our grievances?” Republicans also argued that the state has no business weighing in on the federal issue.
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