CHAMPAIGN – With “Super PACs” expected to rule advertisement campaigns as the presidential election approaches, voters in the City of Champaign Township will see a question on their November ballots about the Supreme Court case that helped spawn the big spenders.
Participants at the township's annual meeting on Tuesday night voted to test residents' support for the high court's Citizens United decision with an advisory referendum at the polls.
“To undo that decision, the people of the City of Champaign Township support an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that: 1. A corporation does not have the same rights as an actual person, and 2. Money is not speech and, therefore, regulating political spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech,” part of the referendum will read.
If voters say “yes” to the referendum, it urges local, state and federal legislators to act.
The question is meant to be a barometer of public opinion, and it is part of a larger movement to effectively undo the Citizens United decision, said resident Stuart Levy.
“We can set an example by supporting it here,” he said.
Participants voted 23-10 on Tuesday to put the question on the ballot. By a 16-15 vote, they defeated a second proposed referendum, which would have asked the Champaign City Council to adopt an ordinance requiring “privately-owned public spaces respect the right of polite, non-disruptive free political speech.”
Levy said township votes like Tuesday's are a good indicator of public opinion, and resident Karen Medina said a referendum has the potential to effect change.
“If we want it done and our legislators are not doing it, this is the only way we can do it,” Medina said.