The Democratic party’s temper tantrum over Citizens United v. FEC has ratcheted up to a new level – now, instead of arguing that the ruling is wrong and the constitution doesn’t protect corporate speech, they’re arguing that the first amendment does protect corporate speech, so they’re going to change it! At least this time, they’re following the process prescribed by the Founders. The problem is, if you listen to Pelosi’s explanation for why they’re doing it, it’s a bit…strange:
The bill in question is called the “Peoples’ Rights Amendment,” and its goal is to explicitly allow Congress to regulate corporate speech however it wants:
Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.
Here are some of the bill’s sponsors trying their best to explain the rationale behind the bill:
“I’ve introduced a People’s Rights Amendment, which is very simple and straightforward,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D.-Mass.) said at the forum. “It would make clear that all corporate entities, for-profit and non-profit alike, are not people with constitutional rights.
“It treats all corporations, including incorporated unions and nonprofits, in the same way, as artificial creatures of the state that we, the people, govern, not the other way around,” said McGovern.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D.-Md.) explained the basic principle this move to amend the Constitution is advancing.
“In Citizens United, what the court said is that Congress has no authority to regulate this kind of political speech,” said Edwards. “And so all of these constitutional amendments go to this question of giving Congress the authority that the Supreme Court, I think wrongly, decided isn’t within Congress’s constitutional–our constitutional purview.”
Apparently this bill is Phase I of an attempt to resurrect the defunct DISCLOSE Act.