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Testimony at Mentor Democracy Day Public Hearing

MENTOR, OHIO | February 23, 2021

The biennial city-sponsored virtual public hearing for Mentor residents to speak on the impact of money in politics and its influence on our democracy and the role of corporations and other moneyed interests that play a part in the political process.

The hearing was mandated as part of a Mentor Move to Amend-led effort to pass a ballot initiative calling on the City to communicate to federal and state representatives that Mentor citizens want a Constitutional Amendment to end corporate personhood and money as free speech. The citizen-driven ballot initiative passed in 2014 by 70%.


Dave Lima

There has been an ongoing tension in the history of the United States between legislative efforts to limit the influence of money and political power, and judicial rulings curbing Congress' power to do so. Particularly in the past 50 years, legislative efforts and Supreme Court rulings have made pivotal changes to the role that money plays in our democracy. Efforts to restrict the influence of money have been rolled back largely based on the misguided narrative that artificial entities are people and money is equivalent to speech protected by the First Amendment.

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Summary of Testimony from Cleveland Heights’ 8th Annual Democracy Day

(Public Hearing hosted by Cleveland Heights City Council and held virtually on January 28, 2021)

Almost 100 people virtually attended Cleveland Heights’ 8th Annual Democracy Day, with 20 people testifying before City Council members Khalil Seren, Michael Ungar, Mary Dunbar, Davida Russell and Melody Hart. Council Vice President Seren presided.

Public testimony began with the announcement that in November 2020, Painesville became the latest Ohio city to vote for a citizens’ initiative calling for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment they stipulate clearly states that corporate entities do not have the constitutional rights of human beings, and money, not being speech, can be regulated in political campaigns. In addition, the Painesville initiative establishes regular Democracy Day public hearings like the one here and in many other cities, for citizens to testify before their local officials about the need for the amendment.

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Cleveland Heights Democracy Day Public Hearing

Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eYstCiLOOY&t=721s


Democracy Day Is Jan. 28 In Cleveland Heights

The annual meeting gives residents a chance to voice their opinion on money in politics and other pressing issues.

Chris Mosby, Patch Staff  |  Posted Fri, Jan 22, 2021


CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — Democracy Day will be held Jan. 28 in Cleveland Heights, the city announced.

Eight years ago, voters in Cleveland Heights passed Issue 32, which declared support for a 28th Constitutional Amendment, which would say corporate entities are not people and do not have Constitutional rights. The passed legislation also said money does not qualify as speech and money spent on elections should be regulated.

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Cleveland Hts, OH: Speak up for democracy

Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:47 AM, 01.01.2021


by Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg

We imagine everyone will be glad to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. The ugliness of presidential politics, police brutality, and the COVID-19 pandemic have touched us locally and roiled the nation. As we write, not only is President Trump still disputing the election, it appears that Ohio electric ratepayers will be charged an extra $7 per month for the foreseeable future, thanks to our General Assembly’s failure to repeal their utterly corrupt creation, House Bill 6. These are failures, not of democracy, but of governments that serve the power of money, rather than the public interest. 

There will be plenty for citizens to address at Cleveland Heights’ eighth annual Democracy Day on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. For the first time, the public hearing will be virtual, livestreamed on YouTube. Whether as an audience member or a participant, please plan to attend. Do you have something to say about the corrosive effect of corporate power and big money on our democracy? You can speak for up to five minutes (about 500 words). Send your full name, e-mail address, and topic to Carla at [email protected] by Tuesday, Jan. 26, to receive a participants’ link. The link will also be posted on the city calendar.

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The Past and Present Legacy of John Marshall in Promoting Slavery, Injustice and Corporate Rule

John Marshall was the most influential judge in American history. But the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court subverted the rule of law. He gave the Court dictatorial power to overrule legislation and executive action, i.e. judicial review, in Marbury v Madison (1803). He spent the rest of his career establishing the double standard that defines constitutional construction to this day: natural rights regarding contract- and property law as they pertain to the 1 percent, but no rights which judges are bound to respect with regard to litigants whose property is in their labor.

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The Vision Thing

Imagining the world we really want

by Terry Ross (Cleveland Move to Amend member)
Medium, Oct 25, 2020

We have a problem. We don’t know what we want. We complain to anyone about how things are going wrong, but we can’t seem to share a vision of what it is we really want. We haven’t learned to envision the world that could be. On the contrary, we are taught to believe and obey. We learn to be realists, not dreamers. Our imaginations are limited by old political and economic systems inherited from centuries past.

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Toledo Council Resolves to Abolish Corporate Personhood

For Immediate Release:

November 17, 2020.

Contact: Dennis Slotnick, Secretary Toledo Move to Amend

Email: [email protected]   Phone 419-704-1863.


Toledo Council Resolves to Abolish Corporate Personhood

The text of the resolution is HERE 

On Tuesday afternoon Nov 17th, Toledo City Council adopted, by a wide margin, a comprehensive resolution to denounce Corporate personhood and declare that money is not the same a speech.  It is Resolution R 446. The Resolution R 449-20 was brought forth by Council members Komives, McPherson and Whitman.

The most salient part of the Resolution is: Therefore be it resolved that Toledo City Council hereby calls on our Ohio legislators, elected officials, and commissioners, etc. to join the tens of thousands of citizens, grassroots organizations and local governments across the country in the Move to Amend campaign to call for an Amendment to the Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood and the doctrine of Money as Speech and return our democracy, our elections, our communities to America’s human persons and to thus claim our sovereign right to self-governance.

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Move to Amend initiative passes in Painesville

Painesville citizens voted on November 3 overwhelmingly (78%) in support of a constitutional amendment to establish that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Painesville becomes the 26th community in Ohio and more than 675 nationwide to pass either a state or local citizen-driven ballot initiative or legislative resolution.

Amicus brief to democratize Ohio ballot initiatives

Move to Amend filed an Amicus brief in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of filed last week in support of Plaintiffs-Appellants in Beiersdorfer v. La Rose, et al. (No. 20-3557). The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Ohio’s ballot access scheme for ballot initiatives. Plaintiffs from seven Ohio counties, representing Rights of Nature and corporate control ballot measures, sued the Ohio Secretary of State and Boards of Election officials in trial court for repeatedly keeping binding citizen-proposed laws and charters off the ballot despite satisfying procedural requirements, such as the requisite number of signatures.  

Move to Amend supporters in Ohio and across the nation have used democratic citizen-driven ballot initiatives in several hundred instances as educational and organizing tools to call on Congress to pass a 28th U.S. Constitutional Amendment to abolish corporate constitutional rights and political money in elections as equivalent to First Amendment-protected free speech. This includes 12 Ohio communities -- which have also included a provision mandating annual or biennial municipal public hearings examining the local impact of money in elections and corporate rule.


Read the full Amicus brief here.