New York City Council Passes Resolution Opposing Corporate Personhood

The New York City Council symbolically passed a resolution Wednesday opposing “corporate personhood.” Resolution 1172 formally expressed disapproval of the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which declared that corporations have the same first amendment rights as people.

The bill, which urges Congress to take action against corporate personhood, was sponsored by councilmembers Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Steve Levin, all members of the Progressive Caucus. After the vote, the Caucus released a statement, which read in part:

"As our support of this resolution demonstrates, restoring confidence in government and strengthening democratic participation is a core principle of the Progressive Caucus. We believe that corporations should not share the same rights as people, that unlimited and unreported corporate donations meant to sway the electoral process should not be considered freedom of speech, and that the government should regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations intended to influence elections. We cannot allow corporate money to manipulate our democracy."

Occupy Wall Street’s New York General Assembly voted to support the resolution. Corporate personhood has been a target of Occupy since the movement began in September.

The non-binding resolution passed along party lines with 41 yes-votes from Democrats, five no-votes from all five Council Republicans and one abstention from Democrat Peter Vallone.

Speaking at the hearing, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) spoke against the resolution, but was nearly drowned out by the boos and hisses of Occupy Wall Street protesters in attendance, The Gotham Gazette reports. “Corporations are people,” he said. “All their money goes back to the people.”

The New York City Council joins a growing list of local governments across the US who have passed similar resolutions, including Los Angeles, Albany, Boulder and Oakland.

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