S.J. Res. 11 (113th Congress)
Introduced by Sen. B. Sanders (I-VT)
H.J Res. 34 (113th Congress)
Introduced by Rep. T. Deutch (D-FL)
Legal Personhood: n/a
Money as Speech: B
Section I. Whereas the right to vote in public elections belongs only to natural persons as citizens of the United States, so shall the ability to make contributions and expenditures to influence the outcomes of public elections belong only to natural persons in accordance with this Article.
Section II. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to restrict the power of Congress and the States to protect the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, limit the corrupting influence of private wealth in public elections, and guarantee the dependence of elected officials on the people alone by taking actions which may include the establishment of systems of public financing for elections, the imposition of requirements to ensure the disclosure of contributions and expenditures made to influence the outcome of a public election by candidates, individuals, and associations of individuals, and the imposition of content neutral limitations on all such contributions and expenditures.
Section III. Nothing in this Article shall be construed to alter the freedom of the press.
Section IV. Congress and the States shall have the power to enforce this Article through appropriate legislation.
It’s hard to say this Sanders-Deutch proposal is an improvement on the first proposal they introduced in the 112th Congress. Where the first proposal tackled corporate personhood in a thoroughly partisan manner, this version has dropped the matter entirely, which isn’t partisan, but it also isn’t anything. So it’s no longer a corporate personhood amendment but just a piece of campaign finance reform legislation crudely hammered into amendment language. As such, it is effective in empowering Congress and the states to impose campaign finance regulations but it does an incomplete job of neutering Buckley and Bank of Boston.
The lack of a definition for “natural persons” could pose problems for future generations dealing with an explosion in medical tech and biotechnology. It could also be expanded to include artificial entities by a majority pro-corporate Court that sees an easy way to manipulate an undefined word. “Living human beings” is a better term because it prevents broadening the definition to include legal fictions or narrowing the definition to exclude living human beings who have been modified, enhanced or perpetuated with biotechnology.
The Sanders-Deutch language could effectively prevent corporations and their front groups, as well as unions, non-profits and other legal fictions, from directly or indirectly spending to influence the outcome of elections, but it does nothing to empower Congress to regulate issue advocacy on ballot measures, pending legislation, public opinion, etc. It also completely ignores corporate constitutional rights. It may be an improvement on the Sander-Deutch proposal in the 112th Congress but ever so slightly.