Taking on Citizens United

Assembly members propose resolution supporting amendment to U.S. Constitution.

Soldotna resident Tyson Cox is seeking a seat in District 4. (photo courtesy of City of Soldotna)

Soldotna resident Tyson Cox is seeking a seat in District 4. (photo courtesy of City of Soldotna)

Two Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members have introduced a resolution that calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Resolution 2020-008, introduced by Tyson Cox and Brent Johnson, would support and call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution “to address issues that resulted from court decisions such as the United States Supreme Court’s Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” according to the language of the resolution.

The resolution mentions the Supreme Court decision that held that corporations and other artificial entities are “persons” under the United States Constitution with a constitutional right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech. In their 2010 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a prohibition of corporate independent expenditures is “an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions.”

Cox said that he decided to introduce the resolution after attending a screening of “Dark Money,” a 2018 film by Kimberley Reed that focuses on the impact of the Citizens United Ruling on elections in Montana.

“It really got me interested in the topic,” Cox said on Thursday. “This is a great movie to show what can happen when we leave our corporations unchecked, especially when it comes to voting.”

Cox introduced the resolution with the hopes that the Alaska Legislature will take notice of the issue and call for a Constitutional amendment to address it. Twenty states have passed resolutions calling for such an amendment, and if that number reaches 34 the U.S. Congress will be forced to call for a constitutional convention. Several municipalities in Alaska, including Anchorage, Homer and Sitka have already passed resolutions similar to the one Cox and Johnson have introduced.

“This is not a new topic, but as a nation we haven’t really done anything to resolve it,” Cox said. “We have to decide not just as a borough but as a nation if that’s the direction we want to go, where corporations have so much influence over our elections.”

Specifically, the resolution introduced by Cox and Johnson calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that establishes that the Constitution does not create, grant or protect any constitutional rights of corporations or other artificial entities, and that the U.S. government has the right to enact statutes and regulations governing the expenditure of money to influence elections and political decision-making.

The resolution will be voted on by the assembly at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Clam Gulch resident Brent Johnson is running for his third term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. (Photo courtesy of Brent Johnson/photo by Katie Ash)

Clam Gulch resident Brent Johnson is running for his third term on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. (Photo courtesy of Brent Johnson/photo by Katie Ash)

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