Carrboro declares corporations are not people

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Tuesday night the Carrboro Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would deny corporations personhood, affirming that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

This vote was a symbolic gesture, proposed by Alderman Dan Coleman and seconded by Alderman Sammy Slade, in order to protest the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. That controversial ruling recognized corporations as persons and effectively removed prior restrictions on how much corporations are able to donate in electoral campaigns, including that of the presidency.

On Jan. 9, the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a similar resolution to the one Carrboro brought forward.

Before board of aldermen discussed the issue, Bryan Gaston, co-chair of UNC's Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), spoke in favor of the adoption of this proposed resolution. In his address, Gaston, specific to the concerns of SEAC, declared that the 2010 Supreme Court decision allows corporations to use unlimited funds to campaign against organizations that seek to improve air quality, and, therefore, the resolution to amend should be adopted.

"I urge you to adopt this resolution," Gaston said, "as an effort to preserve American democracy."

SEAC, in conjunction with Move to Amend, supports building momentum for adopting similar resolutions across the country. "I'm elated to see that all the Aldermen support this," Gaston said of Carrboro's vote, adding he hopes that other cities will continue to support this movement.

Groups represented in support of last night's resolution were UNC's Student Environmental Action Coalition, Triangle Move to Amend (the local chapter of Move to Amend), as well as Occupy Chapel Hill.

Chris Cayer, member of Triangle Move to Amend, said the organization's goal is to push the "Move to Amend agenda in every city we can get to."

In fact, there have been national Web meetings in Chapel Hill, Cary, Durham and Raleigh.

Holly Kuestner, also a member of UNC's SEAC, said this resolution is "timely." On Friday, Jan. 20, almost two years to the day the of the Citizens United decision, members of Move to Amend, Occupy Chapel Hill and other organizations plan to Occupy the Courts. The local event will take place at the United States Courthouse, 310 Bern Ave., Raleigh. Protesters can meet at Moore Square at the intersection of East Hargett and South Person streets at 10:30 a.m.

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