In all instances wherein the words “person,” “persons,” and “people” appear in this Constitution, such words shall be exclusively construed to define living human beings, and shall not include artificial entities created by law.
“Money” and “currency” are defined only as legal tender for the purpose of settling all debts, public and private. Neither Congress nor the Judiciary shall recognize the spending of money and currency as an expression of speech of any kind, or as an expression of any of the rights enumerated in this constitution.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article and to regulate federal elections by appropriate legislation. The several states shall have power to enforce this article and to regulate state elections by appropriate legislation.
Section 1 ends “natural” corporate and union personhood by removing the foundation for the Supreme Court ruling in Citizen’s United v FEC, namely that use of the word “person” in the 14th amendment applies to legal fictions (like corporations, unions, NGOs, etc), automatically triggering 1st amendment rights (see First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti).
Section 2 places money back in its proper place — a form of currency, not a form of speech (see Buckley v. Valeo).
Section 3 uses standard constitutional language to empower Congress to make law based on the new amendment with an added reaffirmation of Congress’ supremacy over the judiciary in the matter of electoral law, putting some rein on activist courts.
This is non-partisan, process-oriented language. The only clear losers are the wealthiest corporations, oversized special interest groups and bloated unions and we can all compromise on that. No matter your political stripe, nobody should have the power to drown out your voice. And you shouldn’t have to give money to every group that has a message you agree with to have any say in the process. Even if you agree with the wealthy and powerful today, there’s no guarantee that you’ll agree with them tomorrow. Karl Rove thought he had created permanent Republican majorities. That wasn’t long after Tip O’Neill thought the same thing on the Democratic side. Nothing is permanent.
I strongly believe this is the most effective and least constitutionally invasive approach as well as the most obviously non-partisan and marketable language to use in the debate. I signed the Move To Amend petition long before I wrote this version but after extensive research I came to the conclusion that all the proposals in Congress were deeply flawed and that even good proposals, like MTA’s, were being smeared as partisan because the language wasn’t as accessible as it could be. I like Move To Amend and I like the MTA language. I also like Free Speech for People’s proposal. I’ve merely had the benefit of seeing the proposals that came before and corrected for their tactical miscues.
This isn’t a contest and I’m not trying to dumb down the Constitution. But the most important point specifically relates to the current crop of Congressional proposals and it’s this: the Constitution isn’t written for lawyers, it’s written for the people. The people have to be able to read the Constitution and understand, in simple terms, what their rights are, what the government’s powers are, and what privileges fall in between, for individuals, associations and the several States. Writing complicated law into an amendment is a bad idea for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is marketability. But to distance the people from their own document by filling it with convoluted language is not just structurally and politically wrong, it’s fundamentally undemocratic.
The MTA and FSFP proposals are a huge improvement on the other proposals in Congress. The Sovereignty Amendment is modeled on the Bill of Rights and written in plain English. It does nothing but unwind the case law that got us here. The call throughout the country is to “overturn Citizens United!” Well, here it is. This does exactly that, unwinding legal personhood to pre-Santa Clara and unwinding money-as-speech to pre-Buckley. But it leaves Dartmouth intact, preserving all the contract and property rights reserved for “artificial” persons inherited from English Common Law. We don’t want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
And if you know of or have a version that can improve upon either or both of these versions, please let us know here or contact us.
Managing Editor, The Amendment Gazette