The Needham Board of Selectmen voted three to two on Tuesday night in favor of supporting a warrant article that calls for a challenge to the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling opening up unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.
After a brief debate over whether a warrant article with national implications was appropriate for a local town meeting, chair Jerry Wasserman, and selectmen Moe Handel and John Builian voted in favor of supporting the Citizens United article. Selectmen Daniel Matthews and Matthew Borrelli voted against it.
“We can have an influence here on an important issue that affects all of us very personally,” said Wasserman.
Town meeting has voted on national matters before, he said: Needham voted to support overturning the Fugitive Slave Act, passed in 1850, which required northern states to return runaway slaves to their owners, he said.
Wasserman said that the Citizens United decision could affect the amount of state aid that Needham gets, and it could affect how any political campaign is run.
“This is clearly a local issue,” he said.
Handel said that while he would not ordinarily support Town Meeting voting on a national issue, the Citizens United article is different.
“This Supreme Court decision gets to the very core of our democracy and in my opinion, Town Meeting is the very grassroots of our democracy,” he said. “This is the most appropriate article Town Meeting could ever discuss.”
Bulian said he was disgusted by the Citizens United decision, and that it deserved to be discussed at Town Meeting.