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Referendum planned on ‘Citizens United’

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Evanston aldermen have scheduled a special City Council meeting Thursday at which they're expected to place an advisory referendum on the November election ballot asking voters whether they favor a constitutional amendment to limit corporate spending on election campaigns.

The referendum is a response to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, in which the court threw out campaign spending limitson the theory that the First Amendment guarantees speech rights to corporations as well as individuals and that spending money on advocacy for an issue is a protected form of speech.

The aldermen last spring unanimously endorsed such a constitutional amendment which has also won the backing of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and other prominent Democrats.

Referendums on the issue will also be on the ballot this fall in places ranging from Northfield Township to the state of Montana.

The special council meeting Thursday will be held at 6 p.m. at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St. The deadline for placing referendum questions on the November ballot is next Monday.

Update 12:05 p.m.: The proposed wording of the referendum question, as posted to the city website late this morning, is:

"Shall the U.S. Congress pass a bill, to be duly ratified by three-fourths (¾) of the states, adopting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?"

 

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