A Boulder measure that rejects the idea that corporations and unions have the same First Amendment rights as individuals -- a concept referred to as "corporate personhood" -- passed in a populist landslide on Tuesday night.
Question 2H, which advocates for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee that only people are entitled to constitutional rights, won the vote by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.
According to final election results, 18,392 voted in favor and 6,556 voted against.
The nonbinding measure also favors limits to campaign donations and expenditures by enshrining in the Constitution the idea that money does not equal speech.
Boulder City Councilman Macon Cowles, who lobbied hard to get the issue to the ballot, celebrated the victory at the Hotel Boulderado with hundreds of other Democrats on Tuesday.
"People are tired of corporations picking their pockets and stealing their retirement," he told the Daily Camera
. "It's a way in which people express the dissatisfaction with the fact that the corporate agenda has become our political agenda."
Cowles said recent Occupy Denver and Occupy Boulder gatherings, modeled on protests on Wall Street against perceived corporate greed, are illustrative of popular discontent with the current system of politics, the newspaper reported.
Question 2H was a direct response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January 2010 in which the court struck down bans on corporate campaign spending after determining that such laws would restrict corporations' free speech rights.
The controversial 5-4 decision ignited a national grassroots movement called Move to Amend to organize people to kill the concept of corporate personhood.
The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not explicitly mention corporations. Yet over time key U.S. court decisions have provided corporations with some of the same rights as human beings.
"I think the voters feel the corporations have too much power and they really want the people to be in charge, not the corporations," Carolyn Bninski, who worked on the Yes on 2H campaign, told the Daily Camera. "It also sends the message that people want money out of politics."
But opponents say the broadly worded measure is misguided. If it ever becomes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the measure would not only rein in huge corporations, but also restrict smaller firms and nonprofit organizations, including churches, unions and media outlets.
"The knee-jerk reaction is that corporations are bad," Boulder City Council Candidate Tom Johnston told the newspaper. "But it's not just going to affect corporations -- it's going to affect nonprofits, it's going to affect unions."
In August, the Boulder City Council voted 6-3 to put question 2H on the ballot.
Copyright Report a typo or inaccuracyIf you have a news tip or a follow-up to this story, e-mail us.Copyright 2011 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.