If I had a dollar for every time a liberal congressperson trampled on the constitution, I’d be covered by the “Buffet Rule.” The most recent attack comes under a feel-good title, but this new proposal only makes me feel sick. This month, Democratic Representative Jim McGovern introduced an amendment, known as the “People’s Rights Amendment,” designed to restrict free speech to states and “natural persons.” And here I was thinking we already had a constitutional protection of free speech. Silly me.
In the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court upheld the right of free speech for corporations, basing their decision under the umbrella of corporate personhood. Business-hating, corporation-fearing liberals have been on a rampage ever since. Here’s where the People’s Rights Amendment comes in. Supporters of this legislation seek to cut off corporations’ rights to political expression. See here for the complete proposal. Section 2 of the Amendment explicitly states:
“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.”
In short, the precedent of corporate personhood established in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad is dead if this amendment passes, however unlikely that may be.
Notwithstanding the fact that the First Amendment makes this new proposal completely superfluous, I have a few, well, critiques, of this legislation, to put it lightly. First, it’s important to understand the assumption supporters of this type of law based their arguments upon. Many on the left assume that corporations are nothing more than greedy, faceless machines designed to terrorize the “99%” and exploit our nation’s resources at every turn. However, what liberals seem to miss is the fact that corporations are not inanimate objects; they’re a collection of individuals who all retain their own rights to free speech. The First Amendment does not simply evaporate where collectivity begins. Americans retain the right to free speech, whether they act upon it alone, or in a group. The United States is not a nation divided between corporations and individuals.
Furthermore, proponents of the People’s Rights Amendment assume that corporations exist in another realm where their actions have no effect upon. However, if they were to take a mere 30 seconds to surf through a list of the nation’s most powerful corporations, they’d see some familiar names. Forget Berkshire Hathaway and Exxon Mobil. What about News Corp, General Electric (with subsidiary NBCUniversal), and Time Warner? If corporations lose their rights to free political speech, who’s to say that Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or even Chris Matthews for that matter will be able to voice their opinions any longer? As individuals, they will have every right to state their political opinions. However, under the People’s Rights Amendment, when Chris Matthews appears on a screen with the corporate peacock in the bottom right hand corner, it’s a completely different ballgame. Say goodbye to any semblance of a free press.
The People’s Rights Amendment is a disgrace to its name. This proposal does not preserve free speech. Rather, it promotes censorship, at least for corporations. Note that the proposal does not cover the left’s biggest supporters: unions. They’re still free to endorse and fund democratic candidates right and left. This proposal is nothing but a politically motivated piece of legislation hidden behind “magical” words like “People’s Rights.” Superficial titles like this are the reason why debate suffers in this county. Who’s going to say they’re against the “People’s Rights Amendment?” However, this is why it’s critically important to look deeper at this proposal and expose it for the sham that it is. Don’t fall for the feel-good arguments of the left.
Rely on logic, not emotion, and don’t lose hope. This may be yet another liberal attempt to degrade the constitution even more, but it’s one not likely to succeed, at least in its present form. There is at least that much rationality left in this nation. I doubt the “People” will stand by and let a measure like this pass.