H.J. Res 21 (113th Congress)
Introduced by Rep. J. McGovern
Legal Personhood: A-
Money as Speech: n/a
We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
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.
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 inalienable.
[Note: Rep. McGovern first introduced this resolution in the 112th Congress. It’s failure to address money as speech was fixed when it was introduced with a companion resolution in the 113th Congress (H.J. Res. 20 & H.J. Res. 21). Why the companion resolution was not introduced in the 114th Congress is a mystery. When the answer is found, this analysis will be updated.]
Rep. McGovern’s proposal does a relatively good job of defining “natural persons” in the constitution, but 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 from an unpopular subgroup or who may have come into the world through significantly artificial means.
The biggest problem is the failure to mention unions. This would be a nearly perfect legal personhood proposal if unions were mentioned in the list of artificial entities excluded from the definition of natural persons. Non-profit corporations are on that list here, so it’s better than most proposals on that score. The phrase, “…deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution,” is too deferential.
Rep. McGovern’s proposal, when combined with H.J. Res 20 in the 113th Congress, represented a good one-two punch on corporate power, both in terms of campaign finance and litigation. Without its companion resolution, this proposal is an incomplete effort.