Movement to Overturn "Citizens United" Decision Reaches Syracuse City Hall

Jun 22, 2015

Michael Messina-Yauchzy with Move to Amend, and Jonah Minkoff-Zern with Public Citizen are joined by others on the steps of city hall Monday.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

  The effort to take large amounts of anonymous campaign donations out of political campaigns came to Syracuse City Hall Monday where common councilors approved a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 "Citizens United" ruling.  

Councilor Jean Kessner voted yes because she supports the sentiment.  But she feels a constitutional amendment is a very slow path to get the results they want.

"If you want to change this, the best course would legislatively, to keep working at it until you bring fairness back.  But you don't ever want to ridicule the passion people feel, and I'm not, and I wouldn't.  It's just that I don't think this is an effective way to do it,  and I'd like to see this changed."

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Councilor Kathleen Joy, a lawyer, agrees….but was the lone no vote. 

"The Citizens United decision was a horrible decision.  But amending the United States Constitution to correct a wrong decision from the supreme court is the wrong way to do that.  I think it needs to be done legislatively, and/or another case that would come before the supreme court. But I'm very adverse to tinkering with the United States Constitution in any way."

Joy warns there could be unintended consequences.

"I think if we start chipping away at the rights and responsibilities of corporations...this was really about free speech rights.  If we deem them not a person, then, a logical conclusion would be that we could never sue a corporation."

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Michael Messina-Yauchzy with Move to Amend hopes the movement goes up the line to the county and state levels.

"Last year, we got the signatures of about two-thirds of the assembly, and we're just four short of signatures in the senate to get New York State to call for an amendment.   Now, these calls are symbolic, they have no force behind them, yet they are a signal to Congress about the ground swell of support we have for an amendment."

  Syracuse becomes the 21st municipality in the state…and joins 664 others nationwide to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.