If there’s one thing that both Republicans and Democrats agree with these days it’s that big money has bought out our government, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made it worse by saying a corporation is a person and money is speech.
Hence, now in the exercise of “free speech,” a corporation can give unlimited funds to campaigns and candidates. Yes, our democracy has been sold and is being sold daily to the highest corporate bidder. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, claimed there is an “Assault on the First Amendment” going on in Congress at this time. He refers to the proposal by Sen. Udall from New Mexico ( S.J.Res. 29) to amend the Constitution to give Congress and the states authority to regulate campaign funding.
Despite the fact that nowhere in the proposed amendment do the words “First Amendment” “free speech” or “corporations” appear, Sen. Cruz made outlandish claims, saying the amendment would “expressly repeal the free-speech protections of the First Amendment.”
Clearly trying to fan the flames of public outcry, Cruz went on to say that if the amendment were adopted, “the following would likely be deemed Constitutional: Congress could prohibit the National Rifle Association from distributing voter guides letting citizens know politicians’ records on the Second Amendment, Congress could prohibit the Sierra Club from running political ads criticizing politicians for their environmental policies” and more.
S.J.Res. 29 does nothing of the kind. It does not ask to change the Constitution but simply requires Congress to pass spending limits on political campaigns. It would also serve to reverse the Supreme Court’s decisions giving First Amendment freedom of speech rights to corporations under the self-created doctrine that corporate spending is an expression of free speech.
“First Amendments rights” is just the latest development of the “corporate rights’ doctrine” by the Supreme Court. Perpetuating the true assault on democracy over the past of 140 years, the court has previously recognized that corporations are entitled to 4th Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, 5th Amendment rights to property and 14th Amendment protections of due process and equal protection of the laws.
If there is one bedrock principle upon which the people of the United States established local, state and federal governments, it is that governments are instituted to secure and protect the people’s inalienable rights, not corporate rights.
Thankfully for those who wish to live to see our nation return to true democracy, there is a grassroots movement afoot in the United States that also proposes a Constitutional amendment. Entitled the “We the People Amendment,” (H.J.Res.29) goes further than Udall’s proposal and will change our law in two fundamental ways: (1) abolishing the concept that corporations are equivalent to natural persons and entitled to Constitutional rights; and (2) that the expenditure of corporate money in politics is not the subject of First Amendment free speech protections.
Lorraine Reich lives in Grass Valley.
Yes, our democracy has been sold and is being sold daily to the highest corporate bidder.