On Feb. 11, House Reps. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., announced their sponsorship of a proposed constitutional amendment to redefine who or what a person is and to limit political campaign contributions. Section one of the proposed amendment defines a person as a natural person only and explicitly states that other legal entities are not persons. This means that corporations would no longer be entitled to constitutional protections.
On Feb. 11, House Reps. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., announced their sponsorship of a proposed constitutional amendment to redefine who or what a person is and to limit political campaign contributions.
Section one of the proposed amendment defines a person as a natural person only and explicitly states that other legal entities are not persons. This means that corporations would no longer be entitled to constitutional protections.
Section two states that money isn’t equivalent to free speech and contributions to political campaigns made by citizens cannot provide increased access or influence to candidates or their campaigns.
Move to Amend, a coalition of “hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals,” originated the proposed amendment. The coalition’s sole purpose is to overturn the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, which argues that political speech is protected by the First Amendment, and corporations have the same rights as a “natural person.”
The decision stated: “The Court has thus rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons’…the Government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity.”
If the proposed amendment is adopted, the consequences could be far-reaching. No longer would a corporation be able to donate undisclosed amounts of money to political action committees; all monies donated to a political campaign would have to be disclosed to both the public and election officials.
It would also limit the legal protections that corporations have. Under current law, corporations have the same rights as a regular person, except that they cannot be sent to prison for crimes committed and their charters (the legal document that creates the entity) are difficult to revoke.
So what does this mean for us and for our country’s future?
These protections would ensure that the people’s interests are more accurately represented in government and that if found guilty of wrongdoing, corporate charters could be revoked by the governments that issued them.
This amendment is long overdue. No citizen today would dispute the fact that corporations’ interests are given high priority by the government. Nor would they dispute the fact that corporations have too much influence on our elected officials.
By creating barriers to private moneyed interests in government, elected representatives and candidates would no longer have to cater to private wealth. By requiring that all political donations be made public, the people would see who backs a candidate.
In Man of the Year, Robin Williams’ character states that congresspersons should have to wear sponsorship patches similar to the ones in NASCAR. That way people would know who’s really being represented.
While that may be laughable, this proposed amendment seeks to do just that; it seeks to show the people to whom our representatives are beholden and who they’ll represent in the hallowed halls of Congress.
Contact your representative and tell them to support the bill. When our representatives are overwhelmed by public support, bills usually get passed. Money can only buy so much influence, because we, the natural people, are still the only ones allowed to vote people into office.
If you don’t know who your elected representative is, you can easily find out by visiting whoismyrepresentative.com. Enter your zip code and it’ll tell you. Contact your representative and your senators. They do listen and, if enough support is shown, they will act.
We must do this because if no one does, things will continue as “normal,” and we will watch our rights as natural persons erode as they have for the past 100 years.