‘Occupied’ City Council: Corporations Are Not People, Money Not A Form Of Speech

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A resolution declaring that corporations are not people and not entitled to the same constitutional protections passed unanimously in the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.

The council’s 11-0 vote drew a standing ovation from a packed chamber of Occupy L.A. members and other activists.

Pending the resolution’s approval by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the city would be on record in support of
federal legislation that would ensure corporations are not entitled to the same rights as people, especially when it comes to spending money to influence elections.

It also proposed language for a constitutional amendment declaring that money is not a form of speech and affirming the right of the federal government to regulate corporations.

The resolution is, in part, a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the 2010 case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court majority agreed that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money in elections.

“Every American should have an equal voice in their government,” said Council President Eric Garcetti, who co-sponsored the resolution with Councilman Bill Rosendahl. “But unless there are big changes, your voice is only as loud as your bank account. And its the big corporations that have the largest bank accounts of all.”

“The flood of corporate money since Citizens United is literally drowning our Democracy. It’s drowning the people’s voice in the government,” Garcetti added.

The council allowed 45 minutes of public comments in support of the resolution before cutting it off to some jeers.

“Corporations have taken over our society. They are deciding what we eat, how people educate their children and whether or not we have health care,” said Sylvia Moore, with the group Move to Amend, which has the broad mission of opposing laws they say prevent the American people from governing themselves.

“Corporations are polluting our environment,” she said. “Some refuse to pay their fair share in taxes. And they are even deciding who gets to vote. They are making our laws when it’s government officials that should be making our laws.”

The resolution cites Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s 1938 opinion on the subject, which reads “I do not believe the word `person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations”.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • Alexander Walker

    For me the Occupy protesters are like Batman and Robin–they’re showing up just in the nick of time, just as we’re spun into a web by all manner of outlandish villains in this new America.

  • Scott K

    Fantastic vote! Not a single council member should take a dime from any corporation now!

    • randy

      Never thought about that, good point. However, we all know it’ll be like the Arizona “boycott,” where it’s a firm stand, until they want something or want to go there, then it’ll be ignored. Corporations are indeed bad, says the city council, until it benefits me.

  • Everyday Guy

    I hope more and more companies leave Los Angeles. Why stay when they are not wanted. The stupidity of “progressives” is clear; they do not want a tax paying entity in the city. There are more friendly states out there folks. Use them.

  • Astonished

    Yeah, they say this now. But come election time, guess what and who has the most influence over these guys. If you really think its the voting public, GUESS AGAIN!

  • copdguy


  • Debra R Steinman

    Wow! Let’s bite the hands that feed us. Never mind that the people who created and own the corporations are ‘people’!

    Everydayguy has this one right. The more corporations who leave the city of Los Angeles the better!

  • Tim

    Could the L.A. City Council be any less relevant? These guys take home $200k per year for this stuff. Not only that, but they’re jerking off the Occupy Movement: Kooks of every stripe…we’re doomed.

  • pizzdOff

    you people in here commenting about how big business should be protected by 14th amendment are all american sellouts. you should be ashamed of yourselves.. giving up the reigns to big government just so you won’t lose your job… real patriotic. you are nothing but selfish apathetic corporate slaves.

    • Everyday Guy

      By subscribing to demented views of the city and state government would make us slaves of the state. We can choose which corporations to involve in our lives, the government interferes with everyone.

      • kim kelley

        In a democracy, the government is supposed to be the people…we ARE the government and they are there to serve us and to do our will…when corporations take over the government…when they BUY our politicians and our elections we lose our power. It is easy to get frustrated and distrustful of a government who no longer has your best interest at heart, but is looking out for the corporate interests instead. This is not a condemnation of the role corporations play in our society necessarily, it is simply saying that corporations are not granted the same rights as flesh and blood people in our constitution. The argument that people create and run corporations is inane…those people have individual voices…if they use their corporations for additional power then they are being granted more power than those who do not own a corporation…a second voice or vote so to speak…in.this country it is one person one vote and equality for all. If rich people or corporate money is free speech, then they have more power than someone without money….that is TOTALLY against the principles of this country….we are all supposed have equal power in this country.

  • ginny

    So let me understand this correctly, this stems from the Court saying that Corportions and UNIONS can spend unlimited monies for elections, but the City Council only votes about Corporations. Talk about showing open discrimination toward one entity. It’s more than obvious how the Council feels about big business in this City and State so like many others comment already, if I were a corp. I would remove all of my offices from this area immediately. Of course, if the Corps leave then the Unions won’t have anyone other then public employers to control.

    • TJ

      My thoughts exactly! The unions must be giddy tonight. God save us all.

  • Rick H.

    These people and the people that voted for them are absolute morons.

  • Aunty Bren Aunty

    Corporations are not coming to CA good for them, I wouldn’t either. Westfield will replace the corporations with $10.00 an hour jobs. Get out of CA while you still can. This is a welfare state.

  • Say NO to Facscisim

    Government by corporation is defined in the dictonary as FASCISIM. If you support this then you are UNAMERICAN. Now go join your NAZI buddies.

    • randy

      Americans also oppose fascism.

  • Roger Thornhill

    A neat symbolic gesture, but a city’s resolution will not overturn a US Supreme Court decision. But it makes it look like the council’s working though. It’s easier than solving problems.

  • Null

    Just FYI – the sentiment or idea of ” Corporations Are Not People” comes from an Adbusters (look them up – anti-capitalist Canadian magazine) in which their whole thing about 10, 14 years ago was to radicalize everyday people into getting angry at corporations.

    But there’s a hypocricy there, as almost everything we use, from the computer I’m typing this out to, to the adverts that support this station, to your jammies to your car, to your desk at work, to the pens you use, the toilet paper, the foods, the markets, the restaurants all benefit from corporations.

    Via Wikipedia – a corporation does have the same rights as an entity as a person… “Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like natural persons (“people”). Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state,[2] and they can themselves be responsible for human rights violations.”

    So, taking away their person-like status, a giant being taken down, is all fine and dandy but you may actually make them not be responsible to any violations they may actually do.

    Foolishness and hypocrisy, stupidity, all that defines Occupy.

    But keep on keepin’, and idea can’t be arrested!

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  • michael mitchell

    LAX is giving for instance the FLy Away bus contracts to a company that is over seas from here to texas to arizona to new york to an LLC over seas from Delaware.
    to ireland and then to paris social geverale bank which Mr. Beyer worked for whom is now a commissioner on the board at lax along with super shuttle and JCD advertisement company contracts that are owned and run by the bank of paris. This is part of the fortune 500 running out airports through the process of donations to our mayor and some how control of the airport is just for off shore corporations that are a cookie cutter invasion of over seas contracting that the fly away is losing 50 million dollars with empty buses and we keep giving these over seas corporations money that should go to the van drivers, taxi drivers and city buses and not to these empty buses from over seas. Stop out of city contract to france.

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