Resources on the effort to reverse "Citizens United" with a 28th
Amendment, and more broadly to End Corporate Rule

On the Amendment campaign:

On the broader issue of ending corporate rule

Organizations:


John Nichols works with Free Speech for People in getting town resolutions passed in Massachusetts. Here is his advice: quote:

I am asking the liberty of sending you my information about how to get a resolution passed. Please see below. My question though is whether the deadline for getting a resolution on the town meeting warrant may have passed. The town clerk can tell you. If so, your options may be to get the item on a special town meeting warrant, if one is to be held in the fall, or getting it on the warrant for the fall local election, if one is to be held. Suggest you ask your town clerk.

Good luck,

John Nichols

(See especially the part in bold below)

This is a description of the procedure to follow:

The great majority of the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts are run by town meeting. Any citizen has the right to place an article on the town meeting warrant, to have the town vote on whether to pass it, by gathering on a form available from the Town Clerk, a small number of signatures of registered voters (typically 10 plus a safety margin of five to ten) and giving it to the Clerk for certification of the signatures, before the date of closing of the warrant. The first step is asking the clerk when the warrant opens and closes. In a few towns it could close as early as December or even November; for the majority it will be in January or February. Once the article is on the warrant, get publicity through letters to newspapers and call-ins to talk programs, talk to any citizens' groups, and appear before the Board of Selectmen to ask their support. In Falmoth’s case, talk directly with town meeting members. Then, speak at town meeting to ask passage. In a small town one dedicated person can do it all; it's easier with two or three.

The following is typical of the resolution used in Lower-Cape towns last spring:

We, the voters of the (town name) Town Meeting, affirm our belief that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to protect the free speech rights of people, not corporations.

We believe that the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which allows corporations and unions to give unlimited funds to advocacy groups to influence elections, threatens democracy by allowing corporations to cause the election of candidates who will serve themselves, not ordinary citizens.

The people of the United States through their legislators have previously amended the Constitution to regulate elections and federal officeholding nine times.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE VOTERS OF THE (TOWN NAME) TOWN MEETING, CALL UPON THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO PASS AND SEND TO THE STATES FOR RATIFICATION A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO RESTORE THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE, AND FURTHER, WE CALL UPON THE MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT TO PASS ONE OR MORE RESOLUTIONS ASKING THOSE ACTIONS.

We ask (town name) officials to send a copy of this resolution to the state and federal representatives and senators serving (town name), and to the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the President of the United States.

However freespeechforpeople.org (FSFP) is now primarily pushing Rep. McGovern’s Peoples Rights Amendment (H.J.Res. 88), just introduced, which by calling for revoking corporate personhood covers the massive problem of corporate lobbying too, not just campaign contributions.

This is H.J.Res.88, which you can find by going to www.senate.gov and searching for H.J.Res.88. You can also find H.J.Res. 78, Rep. Donna Edwards’ proposed amendment, which addresses only campaign contributions, and which FSFP was initially pushing.

H.J.Res 88:

• `Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

• `Section 2. 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 .

• `Section 3. 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.'.

So if I were doing it again here’s the resolution I would use:

We, the voters of the (town name) Town Meeting, affirm our belief that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to protect the free speech rights of people, not corporations.

We believe that the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which allows corporations and unions to give unlimited funds to advocacy groups to influence elections, and the billions of dollars corporations spend in lobbying, greatly outweighing amounts spent by unions and public-interest groups, threaten democracy by allowing corporations to cause the election of candidates who will serve themselves, not ordinary citizens.

The people of the United States through their legislators have previously amended the Constitution to regulate elections and federal officeholding nine times.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE VOTERS OF THE (TOWN NAME) TOWN MEETING, CALL UPON THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO PASS AND SEND TO THE STATES FOR RATIFICATION A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO SPECIFY THAT CONSTITUTIONAL PERSONHOOD RIGHTS ARE FOR NATURAL PERSONS ONLY, AND TO RESTORE THE PEOPLES RIGHTS TO FAIRNESS IN ELECTIONS AND INFLUENCE ON GOVERNMENT POLICY, AND FURTHER, WE CALL UPON THE MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT TO PASS ONE OR MORE RESOLUTIONS ASKING THOSE ACTIONS.

We ask (town name) officials to send a copy of this resolution to the state and federal representatives and senators serving (town name), and to the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the President of the United States.

Who did it and who’s doing it: Seven Lower-to-Mid-Cape towns passed resolutions last spring: (P'town, Truro, Wellfleet, Orleans, Chatham, Brewster, and Dennis). It failed in Mashpee and was withdrawn from a vote in Yarmouth.


Move to Amend's Proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution

Section 1 [A corporation is not a person and can be regulated]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]

Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

Section 3

Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.


The People's Rights Amendment - Free Speech for People

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does 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.

Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

Background and legal wording. Differs from Move to Amend by not removing "Money as Speech."


Senator Bernie Sanders proposes "The Saving American Democracy Amendment" stating that:

Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.

Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.

Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures.

Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.

The text is available here. An important difference between this proposal and the others is that this Amendment excludes non-profit corporations.