Aldermen vote to muzzle corporate speech

Evanston aldermen, dipping their toes into a national political debate, have voted to endorse a constitutional amendment that would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

The court in Citizens United effectively removed all limits on corporate and special interest campaign contributions — saying they violate the First Amendment's free speech guarantees.

The aldermen, in the resolution approved unanimously by the Rules Committee Monday, argue that free speech rights should belong only to "natural persons" and that speech by artificial legal entities like corporations should be subject to state and federal restrictions.

Last November seven Democratic U.S. senators, including Dick Durbin of Illinois, introduced such a constitutional amendment.

Last month it was endorsed by 11 state attorneys general — all Democrats.

But the amendment idea has failed to pick up bi-partisan support, and with the arduous process required to amend the constitution, it appears unlikely to make much headway quickly.

At the same meeting, the aldermen rejected proposals to change their the rules for citizen comment during City Council meetings.

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