Really, isn’t a company, corporation, church, advocacy group or union just a group of people? Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) don’t think so, and they do not think the ACLU, Sierra Club, NRA or the media – all corporations – deserve First Amendment protection. The senators want to exclude corporations like the TEA Party Patriots from First Amendment rights.
In full, the proposed United States Constitution amendment reads as follows:
SECTION 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
SECTION 2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do 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.
SECTION 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are unalienable.
What rubbish. From Eugene Volokh.
The proposed amendment would authorize Congress, states, and local governments to, for instance, (1) restrict what most newspapers publish, (2) restrict what most advocacy groups, such as the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and the NRA, say, (3) restrict what is said and done by most churches, and (4) seize the property of corporations without just compensation. (It might also allow restrictions on the speech of unions, depending on whether they are seen as “corporate entities.”)
So goodbye, First Amendment protection for the New York Times, CNN, the ACLU, the NRA, and the Catholic Church. Goodbye, any right to just compensation when a corporation’s property is taken — whether the corporation is a large business or a small mom-and-pop company. Goodbye, any rights to due process when a corporation’s property is seized. Goodbye …
The actions of Murphy and Tester are a direct result of the Citizens United v. FCC decision at the Supreme Court. A citizen lobbying group – a group of like-minded folks who contributed their own funds to a completely legal, tax-free 501(3)(c) organization – were told by the FCC they could not advertise a film they created that was critical of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Citizens United did not coordinate their film production or advertising with any political opponent of Clinton.
The McCain-Feingold 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act forbid Citizens United from advertising or showing the film on broadcast TV within 30 days of the Democratic primary. That law completely crushed the First Amendment rights of this group, and the Supreme Court (barely) over-turned the law. Now, Connecticut’s Murphy wants a Constitutional amendment that will effectively crush the First Amendment rights of people who pool their money together to lobby for a cause.
Government regulations require these groups register as corporations, and then Murphy and Tester want to exclude them from protections afforded by the Constitution because they are corporations. I should be shocked, but I’m not … it’s standard operating procedure for these fools.