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Freeway sign protest over Citizens United, over I-5, Seattle, WA, April, 2012.
Activists in Seattle, WA
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) (whose candidacy Daily Kos endorsed in our Orange to Blue efforts) is making good in Washington. On Monday, he introduced, along with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gave corporations free rein in our elections.
In making the announcement, lead sponsor Rep. Rick Nolan (DFL-Minnesota), said: “It’s time to take the shaping and molding of public policy out of corporate boardrooms, away from the corporate lobbyists, and put it back in city halls—back with county boards and state legislatures—and back in the Congress where it belongs.”
Representatives from the grassroots organization Move to Amend joined Nolan to announce the legislation. You read the text of the legislation at their site. The essentials of the bill are:
  • Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and
  • Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.
A constitutional amendment won't be easy to achieve, but since the Supreme Court ruling came down, grassroots organizers across the country have been getting their communities on the bandwagon. This proposed amendment is one part of keeping up the drumbeat to overturn this disastrous ruling.

Stand with Daily Kos and CREDO by signing our petition urging your members of Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision and ending corporate personhood.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Dream Menders and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is there polling on this? (6+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that there must be overwhelming support in the general public for this.  

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

    by nailbender on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:11:52 PM PST

    •  probably broad support for something, (10+ / 0-)

      but I don't think people will be keen on stripping rights from churches, nonprofits like planned parenthood or the ACLU, or the mom and pop corner pizza place.

      if it keeps the conversation going, fine, but this version won't go anywhere.

      •  I Wish Writers Here Would Reproduce These (4+ / 0-)

        amendments in whole instead of linking or just mentioning them.

        The exact wording is really important to see.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:41:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. (13+ / 0-)

        I'm curious about a constitutional amendment, but not this one:

        Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

        The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

        Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

        The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

        Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

        Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

        Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

        The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

        •  I'm all for an amendment (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B, jrooth, betelgeux

          that blunts the pernicious effects of Citizen's United and Buckley v. Valeo, but this one is just badly drafted.

          "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

          by Old Left Good Left on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:57:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The first section is no good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MPociask

          no 4th, 5th, 7th, or 14th amendment rights either?  

          Section two is ok in theory, but strike "shall" and put in may," pluralize "government," and take out everything after the first independent clause.  It might be good to clarify that "contributions" and "expenditures" relate to elected office.  

          I've thought the best solution is to take a look at some of the proposals from the '70s to overturn Buckley v. Valeo.  Many of the problems with campaign finance obviously pre-dated Citizens United, and I question the wisdom of a Court overturning regulations specifically enacted because of Watergate, which was primarily a campaign finance scandal.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:03:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  We hope not. Sounds like the wrong amendment -- (0+ / 0-)

        not the solution at all.

        The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

        by helfenburg on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:07:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, this version is too broad (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, sargoth, samdiener

        I don't know if I'm comfortable with the idea of corporations and non-profits having zero rights, only privileges.  It's a good thing that the government can't currently knock down Google's door with a battering ram and seize all of the info on their servers (Google complies with a lot of information requests, but that's not the same thing).

        Corporations hold a lot of our personal information, and if they don't have any right to protect their customers from government intrustion, then the people don't have any right to privacy.

        Also, the way this amendment is worded, what's to stop the government from raiding Apple's piggy-bank to help close the deficit?

        I think the intent behind this amendment is laudable -- corporations aren't human -- but I also think that corporations have some limited rights, and not just privileges.  I'm not sure exactly where those rights end, but defining them requires more nuance than this blunt instrument, which holds too much potential for abuse by a future administration less friendly to our interests.

  •  Interesting Potential Conflict w Press Freedom. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, nextstep, ferg, 4Freedom, samdiener

    Press freedom isn't mostly a human freedom but a freedom of business activity. People can & have used it of course, but in our time it's overwhelmingly a corporate activity.

    So if press freedom under this amendment is restricted to human bloggers, low watt broadcasters and pamphleteer types, a world of regulatory possibility would be opened up to the corporate press.

    I think that's necessary but I also don't think any serious consideration of talk of what might be done to bring pertinent accurate news to the mainstream.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:39:51 PM PST

    •  but I don't think any serious consideration OR (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial

      talk of what might be done... has happened in this country.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 04:42:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seriously? (8+ / 0-)
    Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.
    The supporters of this amendment want to give the incumbents in Congress total and complete power to regulate how their challengers can spend money campaigning against them?  

    And nobody else but me sees the problem with this?  

    •  I don't see a way (0+ / 0-)

      To open up the possibility for the government to regulate electioneering without opening up the possibility for the government to make bad regulations concerning electioneering.  Would you prefer to give government power that can be abused or would you prefer to make government powerless?

  •  This proposal is too broadly worded (10+ / 0-)

    It would remove all constitutional rights (e.g. due process and equal protection), not just the right to free speech, which would be problematic, to say the least. It also has some language that could be interpreted as drastically expamding Congresses authority over state corporate law.

  •  If any good comes of such gimmicks, it is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    that they stir up uninformed public opinion, not that the amenders have a clue what's in CU or what's in the Constitution. They apparently don't know what they want. Do they want exclusively publicly financed elections? When enough voters are aligned and radicalized around an effective legislative program that restores electoral fairness and free speech, the corrupt Congress and the holdout Court will give way to the voters, minus the fool's errand of correcting phantom flaws in the Bill of Rights.

  •  Proper Credit (8+ / 0-)

    The picture at the top of the page is taken on an I-5 overpass just north of Seattle, Washington.  The gentleman in the red coat on the left is my father, my mother in white standing next to him.  He has been standing at the overpass with this (and similar signs) four or five days a week for most of the past six months.  This is what the grassroots is all about....

  •  Let's all get behind this and (0+ / 0-)

    PUSH!

    I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

    by Gentle Giant on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:42:00 AM PST

  •  No no no no no. (0+ / 0-)

    You have to keep it simple. The amendment should read:

    Corporations shall not be deemed people.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:47:29 AM PST

    •  Which would have no effect on Citizens United (6+ / 0-)

      Since it's premised not on corporations being people, but on independent speech being incapable of corrupting its subject regardless of the source of funding.

    •  The Amendment Should Read (0+ / 0-)

      ....

      Actually, I don't have a problem with Citizens United.  Money has always been in politics, and always will be in politics.

      If they wanted to do public financing of elections, that'd be cool, though, but it wouldn't need a constitutional amendment.  The airwaves, right now, are a public good, to which broadcasters (radio and television) only get a license.  Just mandate that for every federal and state-wide election, broadcasters must carry X minutes of x number of political debates, and that any candidate who qualified (in all 50 states/for the state-wide election) must be allowed to participate in the first debate.  Don't allow any kind of culling down by popularity until after at least one bite at the apple, that is.

      •  But, TV is a dying... (0+ / 0-)

        ...medium. I know quite a few young people who don't have a TV or radio, except for the radio in their car, and don't see why they should.

        Cable and Internet are the distribution media of the current and future until replaced by something else.

        Obviously, one could argue that the fact that WiFi and cellular data operate on controlled or licensed spectrum, the content of what is transmitted over those medium could be limited. But, really, does anyone here want government to have content control over what posts or tweets you send or what content you view over your tablet or smart phone? I don't want to have to return to wired only solutions just to exercise my rights to view and say what I wish.

  •  Even Jack Welch and Milton Friedman (0+ / 0-)

    wouldn't think corporations are persons.

    Their neocon ideology promotes a view of the firm as a network of contracts.

    These contracts have no moral content and can be renegotiated for to maximize shareholder value without any ethical consequences.

    It seems so bizarre that business theorists wouldn't support this idea, but the SCOTUS does.

  •  bad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, MPociask
    Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

    The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

    Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

    The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

    Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

    Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

    Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

    The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
     

    Way to long for an amendment to the constitution.  I'd have a hard time voting for this.  

    When it comes to mucking with the constitution,

    KISS.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:51:24 AM PST

  •  Rick Nolan has really jumped into the deep end (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek

    Right off the bat he was raising the issue of the number of days of work Congress was scheduled to work, compared to when he was in Congress in the 1970's, and taking a stand against Citizens United is awesome.

    [full disclosure, Rick is my cousin]

  •  So who thinks it is even remotely likely that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    this can get a 2/3rds vote of both houses of congress? Never mind the 3/4ths of the state legislatures.

    A nice feel-good gimmick, but virtually impossible to pass given the current Congressional make-up.

    If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

    by MikePhoenix on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:57:03 AM PST

  •  At least there is some action on the CU front. (0+ / 0-)

    From a quick read and the discussion, the effort is commendable but imperfect. Now let's see a refined version of the impetus they are putting forward.

    This is only happening because we have been able to elect more and better Democrats. It makes the work of many years to get there feel worthwhile.

    You can't go back and rewrite your past, but you can use your past to create your future. ~ Ray Lewis

    by 4Freedom on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:59:18 AM PST

  •  Oooookkkkkkaaaayyyy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samdiener

    This is a BAD idea...and one that will come back to bite us! You cannot have PEOPLE deciding which artificial entities to regulate because if you do, it may not be the ones you want that are left alone (i.e. Planned Parenthood, unions, environmental groups). All these entities give money to politicians and are NOT public funding, even if they are non-profit, but go ahead and pass this amendment and it will be the end of left funding.

    Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

    The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

    /blockquote>

    Another quibble is ensuring that it gives all citizens the same 'access' to the political process. This is already done if we have taken away a corporations 'personhood' because one person:one vote.

    Lastly, if you take away a corporation's personhood, and they screw you, how do you sue them? You can't sue the individuals due to their usual LLC or Corporation title, that is why they are a corporation. How do you have them be a person in one instance, but not in another. It would be far simpler to just pass a law saying only PUBLIC funding of X dollars (that goes up with inflation, if we had any) is permissible.

  •  Good but doesnt go far enough: Congress must still (0+ / 0-)

    act to ban corporate money from campaigns.

    This amendment gives them the power to do so.

    Does anyone really think they'll do it?

    A better amendment would just ban corporate money in elections, period and not wait for Congress to act.

  •  Justice Stevens already explained (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    why Citizens United v. FEC should have been decided for the FEC. He explained why the Constitution already permits Congress to regulate campaign expenditures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    The dissent did not need a constitutional amendment to win. They only needed one more vote. In the long run it's a lot easier to get one more vote on SCOTUS than amending the Constitution is.

  •  We the People Amendment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, MPociask, samdiener

    So under this proposal, the New York Times Co. loses its First Amendment rights regarding what it publishes in its newspaper?

  •  The idea is correct, the wording (0+ / 0-)

    needs help.

    United Citizens beat Citizens United

    by ThirtyFiveUp on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:33:43 PM PST

  •  Canadian example (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SunsetMagnolia, samdiener

    In Canada we have banned corporate donations, capped individual donations and regulated 3rd party advertising while still having the constitutional right to freedom of expression. (A ban on 3rd party advertising was overturned as unconstitutional.)

    This is thanks to section 1 of the Charter which says "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

    Because allowing unlimited donations undermines democracy, freedom of expression can be limited in that way.

    Section 1 is a trump card that keeps democracy safe from unforeseen effects of our constitutional rights (which are necessary to keep democracy safe).

    It is also worth noting that, while campaign donations have been strictly regulated in the last ten years, it has done little to slow the corporatization of Canada.

  •  I'm very glad they are proposing this amendment, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask

    but unfortunately it has about as much chance of passing as if GOP proposed an amendment prohibiting abortion.

  •  Go Mark Pocan! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm so proud!

  •  This would be more accurately... (0+ / 0-)

    ...titled the "Incumbent Protection Amendment".

    Giving carte blanche for all levels of government to place virtually whatever restrictions they choose on contributions and expenditures related to the political process (and, amazingly, requiring them to place some restrictions with the use of the word "shall") effectively neuters much of the First Amendment.

    As long as there is a rational basis, politicians in power could simply ban virtually all expenditures (including, BTW, personal expenditures spent by Daily Kos posters advocating for/against a candidate or position, buying fuel consumed driving people to polls in GOTV efforts, or buying paper for banners protesting or supporting a particular position or candidate) related to politics -- great for getting reelected forever because no one else can gain name recognition.

    As well, Kos Media, LLC (as an 'artificial entity') would lose ALL constitutional protections ("shall have no rights under this Constitution") overriding all protections of Free Press or Speech, or even Religion that Kos Media currently relies on to not simply be banned in a red state. Indeed, they would even lose the constitutional right right to a jury trial in a civil case brought against them by a 'natural person' who, upon finding a sympathetic judge, decided to waive their right to a jury trial.

    Fortunately, the whole proposal is just political grandstanding and has no chance of moving to the starting line, let alone ever stumbling across the finish line.

    Still, why don't people think before they posture? Is it something in the water or something with the educational system? Do the Incredibly Stupid™ get elected to offices of power by those that don't realize how stupid they are? Or, more likely, do people who propose such things think the populace is so stupid that they won't notice the stupidity of their posturing?

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