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Robert Longley

Lawmaker Moves to Overturn Corporate Free Speech

By February 19, 2013

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A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution just introduced in Congress would overturn the controversial 2010 Supreme Court ruling which essentially extended the First Amendment's freedom of speech rights to corporations and labor unions.

In its 5-4 ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that the expenditure of funds by corporations to support candidates in elections was a form of "political speech" allowed and protected under the First Amendment.

The decision tossed out years of U.S. campaign finance law and enraged untold numbers of  American human beings, who had always believed the First Amendment applied solely to them.

"Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens, in objecting to the court's Citizens United ruling.

But the "We the People" constitutional amendment (H.J. Res. 29), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Richard Nolan (D-MN), would both overturn Citizens United and vindicate those American humans by specifying that, "The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only."

Also See: How To Amend the US Constitution

In addition, the amendment would make it clear that, "Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities ... shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law."

Regulations like campaign finance laws.

"Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure," states Section 2 of the We the People amendment.

"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," said Rep. Nolan in his introductory remarks.

"In every single community where Americans have had the opportunity to call for a Constitutional amendment to outlaw corporate personhood, they have seized it and voted yes overwhelmingly, stated George Friday, MoveToAmend.org spokesperson in a press release. "The Citizens United decision is not the cause, it is a symptom. We must remove big money and special interests from the legal and political process entirely."

A similar constitutional amendment (S.J. Res. 33) introduced in Dec. 2011 by independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has never made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Nolan's We the People amendment has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Also See: Campaign Contribution Laws for Individuals


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