With historic amounts of cash pouring into this year’s elections as a result of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Orange County officials are joining in a national effort to oppose the change in campaign finance laws.
Last week, the local chapter of the Move to Amend coalition asked the Chapel Hill Town Council to pass a resolution opposing the 2010 Citizens United decision, which stated that the government can’t regulate corporate political spending for elections without infringing on corporations’ right to free speech.
The council unanimously voted to pass the resolution. And today, Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen could follow suit.
“The disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court held that money was essentially the same as free speech and that corporations have the same constitutional rights as people,” Steve Peterson, a member of the Triangle Move to Amend coalition, said at the Town Council meeting.
While the coalition raised the issue in Chapel Hill, members said Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman has proposed a similar resolution to Carrboro’s town government.
Move to Amend member and Student Environmental Action Coalition Co-Chairman Bryan Gaston said even though Chapel Hill and Carrboro are small dots on the map, community support and influence through the political chain make the local decisions important.
“It’s a great way to build community support and also a great education tool,” he said. “Chapel Hill Town Council and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have the power through political connections to get the higher-ups to work toward a constitutional amendment.”
Holly Kuestner, a member of UNC’s Student Environmental Action Coalition and a Citizens United opponent, said the ruling holds relevance in the towns.
“This affects a lot of causes. Everybody has a vested interest in this case,” she said.
This Friday, Move to Amend members will also partner with local Occupy protestors to raise awareness about amending the Citizens United decision.
They plan to “Occupy the Courts!” at the Raleigh District Court until 5 p.m. as part of the nationwide protest of the Supreme Court decision, one day before its second anniversary.
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