Not All Responses to Citizens United Are the Same

March 18, 2010

Know the differences. Support the one(s) that makes sense to you.

The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision in January 2010 expands constitutional First Amendment speech rights for corporations and reinforces the fiction that corporations are persons.
This widely criticized decision has yielded varied responses from a range of organizations and individuals. Some actions are modest calls to attempt to limit the impact of the decision on the upcoming federal elections. Others propose a more direct challenge to the supposed political speech rights of corporations. Still another proposes overruling the Supreme Court’s finding that corporations have constitutional rights, and adopting a series of amendments as steps toward genuine democracy.

The Move to Amend campaign is unique among the responses to the Supreme Court decision because it is broader and more comprehensive.  
Move to Amend advocates confirming constitutional rights for human beings as a vital step toward genuine self-governance.  We propose Constitutional Amendments to abolish corporate constitutional rights handed down by appointed-for-life Supreme Court judges - 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendment rights.  

  • Are not human beings
  • Value profits over people
  • Undermine our democracy by pouring their vast financial resources into our politics.    

We will build a grassroots citizen movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to:  

 Abolish Corporate Personhood and confirm inalienable constitutional and human rights for human beings.  
 Firmly establish that money is not speech and that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, should have access to the political process.
 Guarantee the right to vote and to a participatory democracy, exclusively for individual citizens, without fear of our voices, our votes and our participation being silenced by corporate interference in our elections.  
 Protect the rights of local communities to govern themselves democratically within the framework of the U.S. Constitution so that local democratically-enacted laws are not overturned to suit wealthy and powerful corporate interests.   
A PRIZE WORTH PURSUING...  The procedural steps needed to amend the Constitution in order to realize our goal of abolishing corporate personhood are identical to those needed for other amendment efforts launched in response to Citizens United.  MovetoAmend believes that if the American people are going to invest the considerable time, energy, and resources needed to amend the U.S. Constitution to secure self-government by the people, the benefit we seek should be equal to the task ahead of us.  We should work together to abolish all of the so-called corporate constitutional “rights” that have been created by the courts, in Citizens United and beyond.  Together, we can repeal so-called “corporate personhood,” and we can realize America’s promise of self-governance by We the People.

Several rulings by unelected judges have helped corporations nullify democratically enacted laws or create corporate constitutional rights under:

  • The First Amendment – freedom of “speech,” including a “right” to spend unlimited money in politics (Citizens United v. FEC, 2009),
  • The Fourth Amendment – right to privacy (Hale v. Henkel, 1906), and, among others,
  • The Fourteenth Amendment – right of equality and procedural rights (Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific, 1886, and Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway v. Minnesota, 1890).

Through such rulings, corporations have expanded their power in our society.  Corporations have used constitutional rights to thwart laws and regulations passed to control them, expand their influence over our government, and evade full accountability for harms they have caused.

Move to Amend stands fully behind the core principle that corporations cannot claim inherent constitutional rights or, in other words, a right to human rights.  Only by abolishing all “corporate constitutional rights” can We the People protect our inalienable rights as human beings from being trumped by their claim to protection under provisions of the Constitution.

That’s why Move to Amend is calling for a broad set of constitutional amendments to eliminate the doctrine of “corporate personhood” that has been illegitimately added to our Constitution in multiple ways.  We strongly believe that eliminating corporate personhood is a prize worth pursuing.  

Isn’t The Congress Working To Correct This Already? Why Do I Need To Get Involved?
Federal legislation has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate to narrow the interpretation of the decision and create limits and hurdles for business corporations that contribute money to support or oppose political candidates and their campaigns.  

These proposals have included provisions like:  
• Prohibiting political contributions/investments from foreign corporations,  
• Ensuring corporate compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act,  
• Preventing for-profit corporations that receive government funds from making political contributions,  
• Taxing corporation contributions to political committees,  
• Seeking prior shareholder approval before corporations dip into their treasuries to support campaigns supporting or opposing political candidates,• Requiring publicly traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion in politics.
Why A Legislative Solution Won’t Work  
We actually support most of the proposed legislative responses, especially publicly funded elections. But all of the proposed laws are simply not enough. They are modest and “safe,” and none of them address the core problem-- the illegitimate legal doctrine that courts use to allow corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws. The problem goes far beyond corporate money in elections. Corporations have hijacked our government and use the legal system to legitimize their rule.  Our response as a self-governing people should be equally serious.

Join us to amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish Corporate Personhood and all corporate constitutional rights and to assert the inalienable human rights of We, the People.