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Introduced Version Senate Resolution 24 History

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SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 24

(By Senators Snyder, Kessler (Mr. President), Beach, Cann, Edgell, Fitzsimmons, Green, Laird, McCabe, Miller, Tucker, Unger, Wells, Yost, Plymale, Palumbo and Williams)


Opposing the United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission regarding the constitutional rights of corporations; supporting an amendment to the Constitution to provide that corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections or rights of natural persons, specifically so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech; and calling on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution.
   Whereas, In 2010 the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, holding that independent spending on elections by corporations and other groups could not be limited by government regulations; and
   Whereas, This decision rolled back the legal restrictions on corporate spending in the electoral process, allowing for the unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection and policy decisions; and
   Whereas, In reaching this decision, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court, relying on and expanding prior decisions, interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
   Whereas, The Supreme Court relied on other prior decisions which afforded the spending of money to influence elections the full protection of the First Amendment and disregarded the distorting and corrupting effects of unlimited money in elections; and
   Whereas, In his eloquent dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens rightly recognized that, "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established"; and
   Whereas, The court's decision in Citizens United severely hampers the ability of federal, state and local governments to enact reasonable campaign finance reforms and regulations regarding corporate political activity; and
   Whereas, Corporations should not be afforded the entirety of protections or rights of natural persons, such that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is a form of constitutionally protected speech; and
   Whereas, In 2012 the same narrow majority of the Supreme Court voted to strike down longstanding campaign finance laws in the State of Montana without hearing any evidence or argument on that state's own history and experience with corporate spending and corruption; and
   Whereas, Several proposed amendments to the Constitution have been introduced in Congress that would allow government to regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations to influence elections; and
   Whereas, On Election Day, 2012, over six million voters across the United States, including the states of Colorado and Montana, had the opportunity to vote on state and local ballot measures calling for a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics, and all proposed initiatives passed overwhelmingly, averaging seventy-five percent support; therefore, be it
   Resolved by the Senate:
   That the Senate opposes the United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission regarding the constitutional rights of corporations; supports an amendment to the Constitution to provide that corporations are not entitled to the entirety of protections or rights of natural persons, specifically so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech; and calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That the Senate respectfully opposes the United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and related cases allowing unlimited corporate election spending; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That the Senate supports an amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that corporations are not entitled to the same rights and protection as natural persons under the Constitution; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That such an amendment should assure the power of the federal, state and local governments to limit, regulate and require disclosure of sources of all money spent to influence elections; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That the Senate charges the West Virginia Congressional Delegation with the duty to support such an amendment, to work diligently towards its passage and to vote at all stages to advance such legislation in the Congress; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That the Senate declares its intention to ratify such an amendment if and when the Congress shall submit it to the states; and, be it
   Further Resolved, That the Clerk is hereby directed to deliver a copy of this resolution to the Vice President of the United States and the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority and Minority Leaders of both houses of Congress and to each United States Senator and Member of the House of Representatives from West Virginia.
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