Section 1
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.

Section 2
“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.

Section 3
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.

Notes:

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.

Please sign the Sovereignty Amendment petition, and the Move To Amend petition and visit Free Speech for People to learn how to support their effort.

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.

Thank you,

Paul Westlake

Managing Editor, The Amendment Gazette

 

Top

Share

6 Comments

  1. caroline

    The Right-to-Life movement is going to have a field day with Sec. 1.

    Reply
    • pewestlake pewestlake

      I understand but I’m not sure I agree. I’m aware of the anti-abortion crowd’s desire to co-opt the English language for their purposes. If section one included the word “breathing,” we’d have a real problem with them. But as written, it’s mostly neutral on the point. A fetus is living and it is a human being so this could be construed to include the not-yet-born. But children are still minors with limited rights in adult society. I’m not sure that can of worms needs to be opened and this phrasing is the closest I could get to avoiding it.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Reply

  2. Do you agree? Bill of Rights for Voting Equality (change.org) sign and share. Thanks

    http://chn.ge/1daNFRO

    Reply
  3. Ronald Carter

    Please relink to your explanation of Buckley v. Valeo. Switching to organization21 is too confusing. Put it to the side but do not bypass your very clear analysis of the above mentioned case materials.

    Reply
    • pewestlake pewestlake

      Done. Thank you for pointing out the broken link.

      Reply
  4. Sarah Kusisto

    To the point of Section 2… is this truly necessary? Wouldn’t it serve the same purpose to return to the Supreme Court with the new and free forms of speech available via the internet to simply undermine the original ruling? If money was equal to speech because getting your message out was expensive, could the argument not be made that a message can now be carried across the world with no financial backing and thus money is no longer synonymous with speech? I am admittedly not familiar with the argument against Buckley v. Valeo, but couldn’t the argument also be made that protecting money as speech provides unequal protection under the law and thus is unconstitutional in itself? It seems unnecessary to make a constitutional amendment on this point when logical arguments exist that the existing constitution is sufficient. Though, I do understand that the supreme court is loathe to overrule itself…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *