Jayapal, House Dems propose constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood

Washington, DC: Reaffirming that “corporations are not people and money is not speech,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Tuesday led 50 members of Congress in introducing a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, and “put power back into the hands of people.”

The We the People Amendment would establish that “the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only” and that “artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities… have no rights under this Constitution.”

Furthermore, the proposed amendment states that “the privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the people through federal, state, or local law.” 

The measure follows an election cycle that saw an unprecedented $14.4 B in total spending on federal contests, with Joe Biden’s presidential campaign becoming the first ever to raise over $1 billion from donors, according to the Center for Responsible Politics’ (CRP) transparency watchdog OpenSecrets

Nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races in U.S. history also occurred last year, and CRP reported a shift to large donation strategies, with the top 10 donors—who mostly gave to political action committees (PACs) unfettered by spending limits under Citizens United—pouring a staggering $640 million into 2020 races. 

“After the most expensive election in American history in which special interests poured millions in dark money into campaigns across this country, the We the People Amendment finally returns the power to the people, ends corporate constitutional rights, reverses Citizens United, and ensures that our democracy is really of the people, by the people—not corporations,” Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Tuesday.

The new proposed amendment comes as state and local governments attempt to tackle the problem of corporate campaign spending. In California, Democratic state Assembly members Alex Lee and Ash Kalra recently introduced AB-20, the Clean Money Act of 2021, which would outlaw candidates for state office from accepting campaign contributions from businesses. 

Speaking Tuesday at a Zoom press conference ahead of a San Francisco Board of Supervisors vote on a resolution backing AB-20, Kalra tied the bill to Jayapal’s proposed constitutional amendment, calling the measures “complimentary.” 

“Each individual should have an equal voice in the election process, but big corporate donations skew the narrative and creates a fracture in our democracy and hurts those of us who don’t have the resources to compete,” he said. (source: commondreams.org)

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