California Assembly Democrats Vote to Overturn Citizens United

CBS News:

The measure passed on party line vote, with nearly every Republican supporting personhood rights for corporations

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.

The Assembly has 52 Democratic members, 27 Republicans and one independent. The measure will now go to the Democratic-controlled state Senate.

Meanwhile, a citizens group is attempting to put an initiative on the ballot, titled the “Corporations Are Not People Act,” which would have a similar effect.