In Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment to the Constitution allows corporations, much like individuals, to make independent political expenditures without restriction. The ruling helped spawn a new wave of so-called super PACs that are dominating political spending in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, Proposition G is an effort to apply pressure to effect a national reversal of that policy by putting city voters on record as officially denouncing the 2010 high court ruling that opened the floodgates for such corporate political spending.
As a policy statement with no force of law, the measure is intended to encourage San Francisco’s representatives in Congress to work to reform the system that governs campaign spending in the wake of the Citizens United ruling.
If approved, the proposition would make it official city policy “that corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as human beings and should be subject to political spending limits.”
The measure complements similar efforts emerging nationwide as a backlash to the ruling.
Prop. G was introduced by supervisors John Avalos and David Campos and placed on the ballot by a vote of the Board of Supervisors. All 11 supervisors support the measure, along with the nonprofit political reform lobby Common Cause.
“The problem with money in politics is not so much the amount that is spent on campaigns as it is who pays for them, what they get in return, and how that affects public policy and spending priorities,” Common Cause says about money in politics on its website.