Collected rebuttals to amendment opponents of all political stripes.
Rebutting critics on the left:
Taking on amendment critics, part I: James Marc Leas and Rob Hagar
Just because corporate “rights” were not employed to legalize corruption in our elections under the Citizens United decision does not mean that they will not be used in the future. An amendment which clearly states that only humans are people under the Constitution would prevent that from ever happening unless it is overturned with another amendment.
Taking on amendment critics, part III: Kent Greenfield
Greenfield is incorrect to argue that the corrupt Citizens United decision pits conservatives against progressives. This decision pits corporatocracy and/or plutocracy against the people.
Taking on amendment critics, part VI: Steven Rosenfeld
The cost of allowing corporations to continue having rights granted to and exercised by dominating, powerful and wealthy transnational corporations, entities so frightening in their scope and influence that none-other than James Madison considered them to be evil, is the end of democratic control of the Republic.
Fear in the Western Tier (Dick Booth)
No corporate charter was ever granted to anyone, for any purpose, ever, on the basis of an expansion of First Amendment rights.
A Progressive Critic Attacks (Larry Kachimba)
There is no version of campaign finance reform legislation Congress can pass that can survive the traps set by the Roberts 5 and the aggressively expansive definitions of persons and speech behind Citizens United.
Taking on amendment critics, part IX: Garrett Epps
Entering contracts, suing, being sued, negotiating, paying taxes are all qualities of personhood, artificial or otherwise; but they are not constitutionally protected rights!
Leas and Hagar have to stop
The Justices on the Supreme Court know that Article III, Section 2 exists. They know its restrictions. That’s why they’re careful to base their decisions on the First and Fourteenth Amendments, not Article I, Section 4.
Taking on amendment critics, part XIII: Jay Mandle (economist)
It’s not the content of speech that is “at issue” when the use of money is regulated. That would be a violation of free speech. It is the volume of speech that is “at issue.”
Taking on amendment critics, part XI, Ruth Marcus (WaPo columnist)
We should not push to amend the Constitution because people will get distracted from other legislative mechanisms to expose and turn away from a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy?!? Seriously?
Taking on amendment critics, part XV, Lawrence Lessig (constitutional law professor)
Lessig’s claim that campaign finance reform (CFR) will fix this corruption is correct, but his claim that it will not “require a constitutional amendment” at the 12:00 minute mark is naive.
Taking on amendment critics, part XVIII, Richard Hasen (Professor of Law and Political Science)
Progressive ideology has little to do with restoring democracy in America. Abolishing corporate rights and overturning Citizens United is trans-ideological.
Professor Geoff Stone’s Wishful Thinking
The unfortunate condition we’re faced with is that electing presidents to nominate judges who will support fair elections (a “level playing field”) may require fair elections.
Rebutting critics on the right:
Taking on amendment critics, part II: Vincent Todd
The individuals who comprise these aggregates already have protection under the First Amendment. They don’t need to be protected twice.
Taking on amendment critics, part V: Jeff Jacoby
Jacoby concludes that, “Far from reinvigorating the dream of the Founding Fathers, the People’s Rights Amendment would transform it into a nightmare.” Apparently, Jacoby is unable to perceive the nightmare that America has become in a post-Citizens United legal environment.
Taking on amendment critics, part VII: George Will Pt. 1
Will deftly follows his divide and conquer move with an appeal to his old standby, fear. With a straight face he claims that McGovern’s amendment “is explicitly designed to deny constitutional rights to natural persons who, exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of association, come together in corporate entities to speak in concert.” But eliminating constitutional protections for corporate entities would have no impact on the rights of individuals, whether corporate employees, board members, or shareholders.
Taking on amendment critics, part VIII: George Will – Pt. 2
Mr. Will sets up a false frame in his opening remarks charging that liberals want to limit the speech of people as they gather in groups. This is actually two lies in one.
Taking on amendment critics, part IV: Jeff Carter
Carter never attempts to answer the question as to whether corporations are people. For the purposes of entering contracts, breaking contracts, suing and being sued and being taxed, corporations have long been considered artificial persons. However, none of these allowed characteristics are rights, and this is not what corporate personhood is about.
Taking on amendment critics, part X: Tracy Ryan (libertarian)
By Ryan’s rationale, i.e., “and thus as a group acting as one,” corporations should have all of the constitutional rights provided in our national, social contract; but they do not. The Supreme Court has not granted corporations the right to vote nor have they been granted the 2nd Amendment right…yet.
Taking on amendment critics, part XII: Tom Kaminick
Religious freedom would not be “thrown out” if an amendment is passed to abolish the rights that “juriscorporatists” have granted them. Either Kamenick is purposely deceiving his readers, or he is combining his ignorance with baseless fear-mongering.
Taking on amendment critics, part XIV: David Crocker
If some human beings can own other human beings, the owned human beings have no rights. Granting those people constitutional rights abolishes the first group’s right to own them. That is, in fact, taking a constitutional right away from a group that previously had that right. We should not merely accept the premise that a “right,” once it exists, becomes permanent by some divine decree. Some rights, like the right to own other people, should be abolished.
Taking on amendment critics, part XVI: A. Barton Hinkle
There are uncountable numbers of obvious, and egregious, examples of private tyranny in the workplace that are committed by the very same corporations that want to be granted unalienable constitutional rights they never had, needed or deserved. The hubris and hypocrisy is stunning but not surprising. And neither is Mr. Hinkle.
Taking on amendment critics, part XVII: David Applegate’s “poppycock” is bunk
Mr. Applegate is writing for an institution with Christian values. Interesting, then, that his list of “reasons” begins by insulting the people of IL as “low-information voters.” Ad hominem much?
Taking on amendment critics, part XIX: Julius Kairey (reactionary student)
The Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to regulate the “times, places and manner of holding elections” in Article I, Section 4. Incumbency is it’s own reward during campaign season but limiting spending by all parties, including incumbents, would only amount to an advantage if incumbents were legally allowed to spend more than challengers, which would be a direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Ontology 101: Money is Not Speech (Josh Barro)
[O]ntology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.” There is little question that money and speech exists; the issue to be settled is whether they are equivalent or not. Are there more similarities or differences? If the latter, then how did they become equivalent; and how can the American people break this equivalency?
Taking on amendment critics, part XX: Jonah Goldberg
If hypocrisy is the worst charge the National Review can make toward politicians in Congress trying to make the nation more democratic and less plutocratic, then this movement of the people is in great shape.