Stephen Justino, a lawyer and member of the executive committee for Move to Amend, posted the committee’s answers to the questions posed on the Campaign for America’s Future website by Greg Colvin. His answers are reposted here with his permission. Previously, Paul Westlake, author of the Human Rights Amendment, was the first to take up the challenge and answered the same questions here, and amendment author Rick Staggenborg, provided answers to Colvin’s questions here.
First, the following is the amendment proposal from Move to Amend that Justino is addressing:
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
[Colvin’s questions are indented in block quotes, and multiple choice questions are answered in bold.]
1. What is the main purpose? Is it to drive the big money, from all sources, out of elections? Or is it to abolish corporate personhood?
The main purposes of the “Move to Amend amendment” are to do BOTH – to abolish all corporate constitutional rights, AND, to make it possible to drive all of the big money out of politics.
2. If none of the rights extended to corporations are still protected by the Constitution, what would the consequences be — outside of the realm of elections?
The biggest consequence, outside of the realm of elections, would be that Corporations would lose the ability to go to court to overturn democratically enacted laws designed to regulate corporate behavior based on the specious legal argument that those laws violate the corporations’ inalienable constitutional rights.
3. What would happen the day after the amendment was adopted? Would corporate and business spending in elections stop immediately or would legislation and litigation be required?
On the day after the amendment is ratified, the campaign finance limits established under the McCain/Feingold law, which is still “on the books,” would go back into effect. If Congress wanted to further limit campaign spending, or ban it completely, new legislation would be required.
4. What kinds of legal entities does the amendment apply to?
a. business corporations
b. nonprofit corporations
c. labor unions
d. other forms of organization (associations, trusts, LLCs, partnerships)
e. all of the above
Inalienable rights protected under the Constitution belong to human beings, only. Therefore, all non-human legal entities would be effected by the amendment.
5. How should the campaign spending of individuals (including candidates) be regulated?
a. no limits on personal spending
b. authorize Congress and the states to set limits
c. set dollar limits in the Constitution
d. prohibit completely
The amendment proposed by Move to Amend would make it possible for campaign spending of individuals (including candidates) to be regulated in any way that the Congress, or the state and local governments, see fit.
6. Should all campaign contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed? Or should Congress and the states allow small donations to be anonymous? In view of all that secret money that flows through nonprofit groups for political “issue ads,” how do we force them to disclose their sources?
Yes, the amendment proposed by Move to Amend would require that ALL campaign contributions and expenditures to be publicly disclosed.
7. Should public financing of campaigns be required, permitted, or prohibited?
This is not a matter covered by the amendment proposed by Move to Amend; however, we believe that public financing of campaigns should be required.
8. Does the amendment cover both candidate elections and public votes on ballot measures?
The amendment proposed by Move to Amend covers both candidate elections and public votes on ballot measures.
9. Are all levels of government covered: federal, state, city, town, and county?
The amendment proposed by Move to Amend covers all levels of government including: federal, state, city, town, and county.
10. Is any special wording needed to protect freedom of the press?
Yes. We have included special language into our proposed amendment language to protect freedom of the press.
11. Should other subjects be covered in the amendment, such as making election day a holiday, shortening the campaign season, simplifying voter registration, requiring paper ballots, addressing voter disenfranchisement?
The amendment should cover ending corporate constitutional rights, and ending “money as free speech,” only.
12. Should there be two or more amendments to carry different aspects of these issues, or one unified proposal?
We at Move to Amend believe that the only two issues – “ending corporate constitutional rights” and “ending money equals speech” – should be contained in a single unified proposal.
…and of course, is the language as brief and clear as it can be?
The amendment proposed by Move to Amend is clear, concise, and unequivocal. This is one example of an amendment that is serious about ending corporate personhood and getting all of the money out of politics looks like.
The executive committee of Move to Amend is comprised of Justino, Ben Manski, Daniel Lee, David Cobb, Egberto Willies, Jerome Scott, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Laura Bonham, Leesa “George” Friday, Lisa Graves and Nancy Price.