S.J. Res. 7 (114th)
Introduced by Sen. J. Tester (D-MT)
Legal Personhood: A-
Money as Speech: n/a
The rights enumerated in this Constitution and other rights retained by the people shall be the rights of natural persons.
As used in this Constitution, the terms ‘people’, ‘person’, and ‘citizen’ shall not include a corporation, a limited liability company, or any other corporate entity established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state.
A corporate entity described in section 2 shall be subject to such regulation as the people, through representatives in Congress and State representatives, may determine reasonable, consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to limit the rights enumerated in this Constitution and other rights retained by the people, which are unalienable.
Sen. Tester’s proposal for the 114th Congress is much more succinct than his previous proposal in the 113th. It’s essentially the same proposal with less exposition.
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.
More problematic is the omission of unions and other unincorporated associations. It does, at least, include non-profit corporations in the list of legal fictions but that’s not enough to make-up for the exclusion of unions.
Section 3 is a bit redundant, given that Section 1 abolishes corporate constitutional rights, which is the only significant impediment to the exercise of the Congressional power to regulate commerce. This section would be better used to end the doctrine of money as speech.
Section 4 is potentially the most structurally hazardous. We already accept limits on constitutional rights, like restrictions against threatening the President of the United States, or deliberately inciting people to violence or showing pornography on broadcast television. Abolishing all limits on constitutional rights might not be the intent but it could be the interpretation at some future time.
Even with four sections, Sen. Tester’s proposal manages to be relatively succinct. Unfortunately, it falls into several common traps and potentially creates a whole new area of conflict within the Constitution.