City Council has enough to do

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission was a bad decision. Congress should require full disclosure of the source of the unlimited contributions permitted under Citizens United, and ultimately a constitutional amendment to overturn it may be necessary.

We agree with those who are working to oppose the ruling and the concept that corporations have First Amendment rights to free speech on par with individuals.

We don't agree that the Ashland City Council should be expected to declare a position on this national issue.

Opponents of Citizens United presented a resolution to the council last week, asking that it vote to support a constitutional amendment overturning the ruling. Supporters of the resolution were disappointed that the council declined to do so.

The Ashland City Council has no authority in this matter. All it can do is pass a resolution indicating that the council members support a constitutional amendment that does not yet exist.

Other city councils have weighed in on this issue, including Portland and Los Angeles. Adding Ashland to the list is unlikely to influence anyone in Congress or anywhere else.

Ashland residents are well known for their high level of political involvement. In the early 1980s, activists opposed to nuclear weapons succeeded in convincing the City Council to declare Ashland a nuclear-free zone — something other cities were doing as well at the time.

Thirty years later, Ashland is still a nuclear-free zone. And nuclear weapons continue to threaten the peace and stability of the world. It's safe to say that Ashland's symbolic declaration had exactly zero effect on the scourge of nuclear weapons.

City Council members are asked to spend long hours without pay deciding a wide range of controversial issues that directly affect the city's residents. It's not fair to expect them to take time to engage in the academic exercise of debating national campaign finance rules, then criticize them for failing to get on the bandwagon.

Opponents of Citizens United plan a public march on Sunday to declare their support for a constitutional amendment. That's their right as Americans, and an appropriate way to express their opinion.

They should let the City Council spend its time and energy on city issues.

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