Editorial Opinion By Judith Deutsch (PDA Member)
If you disagree with the law of our nation which maintains that corporations have the same First Amendment Rights as people and that money is the same as speech, and that corporations, although they can’t give unlimited amounts of money to candidates, can spend unlimited amounts on political ads, please ask Senators Udall and Heinrich and your Congressional Representative to support HJ Resolution 48 (which you can find at the end of this column).
These Supreme Court of the United States decisions have determined the above:
The 1866 County of Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad case which has been cited as settling that corporations are persons within the provisions of the fourteenth amendment; the 1976 Buckley vs. Valeo case which equated money with speech since every form of communicating costs money; the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC case which states that limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members associate effectively and to speak on political issues.
Furthermore, the Federal Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit 2010SpeechNow.Org v.FEC case resulted in individuals and PACs being allowed to give unlimited amounts for the purpose of making independent expenditures, thereby creating super-PACS.
Thus millions are spent by corporations and individuals to influence our elections. (Jonathan Easley, a National Political Reporter for The Hill, has reported that the Koch Brothers network plans to spend $400 million on the 2018 elections.)
Article V of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. In either case, the amendment would have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
Senator Udall has introduced a very weak resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution. It says, in part, “Congress may (and the emphasis is mine) distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.” His excuse for introducing such a weak resolution was that he thought it had a better chance of passing than a stronger one — but his resolution didn’t even get out of committee.
And so, if you don’t want money to be considered speech and corporations to be considered people, please ask Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representative Lujan to sponsor and strongly support:
HR 48 Joint Resolution
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:
“Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other 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. 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 that person’s 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 governments 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.”