Syracuse Common Council Votes to Overturn Citizens United

By Lauren Winfrey SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — There’s a grassroots movement to amend making noise in Syracuse. Monday the Move To Amend organization of Syracuse and Central New York rallied on the front steps of City Hall. The group of about 10 members gathered in anticipation of Common Council’s resolution vote on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

This resolution was prompted by a national effort to reverse the effects of Citizens United, which as it stands, allows an unregulated form of spending money to influence elections.

According to Michael Messina-Yauchzy, Co-Chair of Move To Amend of Syracuse and Central New York, “Since Citizens United, spending in political campaigns has ballooned, much of it in the form of attack ads from unidentified or poorly identified sources,” Messina-Yauchzy said.

Monday, Common Council voted “yes” on the Citizens United resolution proposed Messina-Yauchzy and the Move To Amend organization. Now that the vote has passed, Syracuse is the 21st municipality in New York and the 665th city nationwide to call for an amendment.

The approved resolution confirms Syracuse Common Council supports an amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that (1) artificial legal entities are not entitled to the same rights and protections as natural persons under the Constitution and (2) spending money to influence elections is not “free speech” as defined under the First amendment. The vote passed nine/one.

Kathleen Joy objected the vote stating, “I believe a U.S. constitutional amendment is not the way to do this,” Joy said. “Terrible legal decisions should be dismantled through legislation, or by further court action, not through a constitutional amendment. While I appreciate the effort, and the support for this constitutional amendment, I have to vote no.”

Doing away with Citizens United assures federal, state, and local governments the power to limit, regulate, and require full disclosure of the sources financially contributing to influence elections. Now that the resolution has passed in Syracuse the movement marches on. Ultimately, the amendment must be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress than ratified by three-quarters of state legislations.