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City Council Calls For Overturn Of Citizens United

A resolution that calls for a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United campaign finance case was unanimously approved today by the San Diego City Council.

The resolution -- passed on an 8-0 vote -- was crafted in response to a 2010 high court decision holding that political spending by corporations and unions is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. The ruling led to the creation of so-called Super PACS that funneled huge sums of money into this year's elections.

Large corporations and Super PACS are trying to buy democracy, said Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who introduced the resolution.

"While it's not binding, it is an important message to send from the people of San Diego to Congress,'' Emerald said. "At some point, we have to say enough is enough when it comes to money dictating the direction of democracy.''

She said 23 cities around California and 13 state legislatures have passed similar legislation. The right of free speech applies to people, not corporations, she said.

The resolution was drafted by a group called Money Out Of Politics. One of its members, Pam Page, told the council that the organization is an outgrowth of Women Occupy San Diego.

While they ultimately voted for the resolution, council members Kevin Faulconer, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf expressed reservations.

Zapf said she wished the text included spending by unions along with corporations and Super PACS.

"In my campaign, the unions spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against me,'' said Zapf, who was elected two years ago. She said the wording was "lopsided.''

The Citizens United case was a federal issue, and not appropriate for a municipal body to delve into, according to Faulconer and Sherman.

Another councilman, Mark Kersey, left the council chamber while the discussion was under way and did not cast a vote.

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