14th Amendment interpretation

It’s rare that any Constitutional Amendment receives “15 minutes of fame” in the news other than the First and Second Amendments.

Yet, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a hot topic in the media in recent weeks as a kind of emergency life preserver to avoid a sinking economy if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the end of the month. 

Many in Congress are calling on President Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment via an executive order to bypass Congress and order that bills be paid on time to avoid a government default. 

At issue is the interpretation of Section 4  of the Amendment. How clear cut is it? Does it allow the President to act unilaterally or can only Congress raise the debt ceiling? 

While the court will soon decide the interpretation of Section 4, never forget how the U.S. Supreme Court in the late 20th century interpreted Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (partial text above) when it came to corporations: that they were persons with the same due process and equal protection rights as human beings. 

This despite the fact that the Amendment, one of three enacted following the Civil War, was clearly meant to apply to human persons, including the recently emancipated enslaved human beings that were previously legally defined as private property. 

The illegitimate and fraudulent interpretation of the 14th Amendment led to other Amendments – the 1st, 4th and 5th in particular – being hijacked by corporations. With “corporate personhood” / corporate constitutional rights affirmed, corporations have spent the last century-plus amassing tremendous economic and political power, preempting the rights of people to protect themselves and their communities, and legalizing the plunder of the natural world. 

To be absolutely clear, much of these immense corporate harms occurred decades before the Citizens United decision – meaning that simply overturning that decision or simply the constitutional doctrine that “money equals free speech” isn’t enough.

Since the Courts continue the absurd and dangerous interpretation that corporations are legal persons with constitutional “rights,” it’s up to us to take charge to affirm that only human beings possess inalienable rights and, thus, the power to expand justice in all its forms and ensure a livable world.   

That’s why we need the We the People Amendment (HJR 54) – the only proposed Amendment that would abolish “money equals speech” and “corporate personhood” / corporate constitutional rights in all its forms. 

Move to Amend is the leading national group educating, advocating and organizing to enact the We the People Amendment. 

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