- What is Corporate Personhood?
- What's the process to amend the US Constitution?
- What is the language of the amendment?
- What is Move to Amend's position on the other proposals that have been proposed or introduced in Congress?
- What about unions and non-profits?
- What is your strategy to get this amendment passed?
- What will you do with the petition names?
- Why all this talk about democracy? Isn't the United States a republic?
Organizing and MTA Affiliate Related FAQs
- How can I connect with other people in my community already working on Move to Amend?
- I want to organize a Move to Amend group in my community, where do I begin?
- Are there recommended actions and campaigns to use to promote Move to Amend?
- What promotional resources are available?
- What should I do with signed petitions I have collected?
- I have a MTA-related event coming up, how do I post an event to the website and/or have event details sent out to petition signers in my area?
- I would like to have a Move to Amend speaker come to my area, how do I go about arranging this?
- What is a Move to Amend resolution, what is the purpose of working to get one passed and are there example resolutions available?
- Can I have access to the contact information for petition signers in my area?
- How do I get my group’s details listed on the Move to Amend website?
What is "Corporate Personhood"?
There are two conceptions of "corporate personhood". The first simply bestows upon corporations the ability to engage in many legal actions (e.g. enter into contracts, sue, be sued, etc). This is widely accepted and we do not object to this.
However, "corporate personhood" also commonly refers to the Supreme Court-created precedent of corporations enjoying constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings. We believe this form of "corporate personhood" corrupts our Constitution and must be corrected by amending the Constitution. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution ever mention corporations. But thanks to decades of rulings by Justices who molded the law to favor elite interests, corporations today are granted so-called "rights" that empower them to deny citizens the right to full self-governance. For example, the Supreme Court has:
- prohibited routine inspections of corporate property without a warrant or prior permission, even though scheduling such visits may permit a company to hide threats to public health and safety. (Marshall v Barlow’s, 1978)
- struck down state laws requiring companies to disclose product origins (International Dairy v. Amnestoy, 1996), thus creating “negative free speech rights” for corporations and preventing us from knowing what’s in our food.
- prohibited citizens wanting to defend their local businesses and community from corporate chains encroachment from enacting progressive taxes on chain stores. (Liggett v. Lee, 1933)
- struck down state laws restricting corporate spending on ballot initiatives and referenda, enabling corporations to block citizen action through what, theoretically, is the purest form of democracy. (First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti).
The notorious 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad is just one in a long series of Supreme Court cases that entrenched "corporate personhood" in law. Justices since have struck down hundreds of local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on this illegitimate premise. Armed with these "rights," corporations wield ever-increasing control over jobs, natural assets, politicians, even judges and the law.
We believe corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges citizens and their elected representatives willfully grant them. Our Amendment will reverse the Court’s invention of "corporate personhood" and limit corporations to their proper role: doing business.
What is the process to amend the US Constitution?
An amendment has to be proposed either by a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress, or else by a constitutional convention convened when the legislatures of 2/3 of the states so request. The amendment has to be ratified either by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states, or by conventions in 3/4 of the states, depending on which means of ratification Congress proposes.
All of the amendments to the Constitution, of which there are now 27, were proposed by Congress, and all but one were ratified by state legislatures. The convention route has never been used for proposing an amendment, and was used only once for ratifying an amendment (the 21st, which eliminated Prohibition).
What is the language of the amendment?
Move to Amend Proposed Amendment
Section 1 [Corporations are not people 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.
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
What is Move to Amend's position on the other proposals that have been proposed or introduced in Congress?
While it is exciting to see the flurry of momentum and energy that is finally getting some traction in a small segment of Congress, Move to Amend is very clear that it is important that we not let our goals be diluted by our legislators in Washington, even by those who mean well and want to see reform in our political system.
Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule - there's no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.
It is our belief that we need to operate on the assumption that once an Amendment comes out of Congress we won't get another shot. So we MUST get it right!
With many competing proposals, it can be confusing to figure out what is what in terms of what the proposals will actually do. We have prepared a summary of each of the amendments proposed, including what is missing from each one.
We also encourage you to check out our article, Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights, to explain why we feel so strongly that half-way solutions cannot be accepted.
The Move to Amend amendment will clearly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and allows for no loopholes. Our amendment will put people in charge of our government, and corporations in their proper place.
What About Unions and Non-Profits?
Our perspective is that no "artificial entities" - non human beings - should have rights spelled out under the Constitution. This includes unions and non-profit corporations.
Rights do not come from government, we have them because of the very fact that we are alive - they are inalienable. Given that, government does not actually have authority to grant rights to entities created by law. Certain powers and privileges may be needed and desired for certain entities over others, but not constitutional rights.
Non-profits do serve a different function than that for-profit corporations, as do unions. But these powers and privileges need to be spelled out legislatively - through a democratic process - not granted by the legal system under the Constitution.
What is your strategy to get this amendment passed?
Our strategy is to work on the local level before moving on to the state or federal level to build a grassroots movement organized and powerful enough to force Congress to act.
Our primary organizing tool is local resolution campaigns. Resolution campaigns are a powerful way for communities to send a message to Congress and let our representatives know we want them to act.
Click here for a list of resolutions that have been passed or are in progress. Our goal is to get 50 resolutions on local ballots for the Presidential Election in November 2012.
In 2011 Move to Amend groups in three communities (Madison, Boulder and Missoula) passed initiatives by overwhelming majorities. Many other towns and cities passed resolutions through their City Councils.
This is a grassroots campaign - we are encouraging folks to form local Affiliates so they can participate in Move to Amend.
When you have an organizing meeting, please remember to list it on the Move to Amend website by clicking on this link: [ Event Announcement ] and filling out the online form so we can help you get the word out!
What will you do with the petition names?
The Motion to Amend is the beginning of a multi-year movement to amend the Constitution. We are not petitioning anyone else to do that for us. Every individual and organization that signs on to the Motion to Amend is a part of this movement. We will continue to reach out to you and to provide support in efforts to win adoption by the states of democracy amendments to the national and state constitutions.
We do not sell your information.
Why all this talk about democracy? Isn't the United States a republic?
Our use of the term "democracy" is shorthand for what is technically our political system - a democratic republic with direct election by citizens of other citizens to represent us, We the People. "Democracy" accurately describes, however, the direct ability and power of citizens through education, advocacy and organizing to influence other citizens, the media and elected officials through organizations, campaigns and social movements.
"Democracy" is also an accurate description of the several ways We the People in many states directly govern and bypass elected representatives. These include the initiative, referendum and recall - the power of citizens to create laws, reverse laws and remove elected representatives.
Whether democracy, republic, or democratic republic, they (and we) are all effectively weakened when corporations possess inalienable constitutional rights to influence public opinion, shape public laws, mold public officials and intimidate public communities.
How can I connect with other people in my community already working on Move to Amend?
In 2012 Move to Amend is hosting seven Regional Democracy Convergences in different areas of the country. Attending one of these events is a great way to connect with the campaign and meet other MTA activists near you.
Check our handy "Find MTA Near You" map to see if there is a MTA Affiliate Group near you, if there are events coming up, close by MTA endorsing organizations or resolutions that have passed in nearby communities.
You can also check your state’s information page by using the drop-down menu on the right side under the heading “State Pages”. This page will list any events and news in your area, along with details about any local Move to Amend Affiliate groups in your state.
If there is no MTA activity near you yet, you can host a Houseparty for Democracy. We'll send an email to MTA petition signers in your area and invite them to your event so that you can connect with them and work together to form a local MTA group.
I want to organize a Move to Amend group in my community, where do I begin?
We recommend you get started by hosting a Houseparty for Democracy to invite your friends and neighbors to join you. We'll send an email to MTA petition signers in your area and invite them to your event so that you can connect with them and work together to form a local MTA group.
Once you have formed a group, you can Affiliate with Move to Amend. Affiliation is intended to create a mutually supportive network of collaboration and communication within the Move to Amend community. The affiliation process insures that we are creating a strong and cohesive movement that is diverse, inclusive, resilient and democratic, which are vital elements to our success. For more information on affiliation, please refer to the Affiliation page.
We also recommend checking out our Local Action Toolkit which is full of helpful ideas on how to organize and build a movement in your community. Also don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions.
Are there recommended actions and campaigns to use to promote Move to Amend?
Currently our main goals are to increase popular awareness and understanding of our campaign and to pass local resolutions within organizations and local communities in order to put pressure on elected officials at the local, state and national levels and grow the movement.
Check out our current Action Campaigns for ideas to get started.
What promotional resources are available?
Currently we offer brochures, rally signs, bumperstickers, post cards, t-shirts, and buttons. Click here to order materials.
What should I do with signed petitions I have collected?
I have a MTA-related event coming up, how do I post an event to the website and/or have event details sent out to petition signers in my area?
Preferably at least two weeks prior to your event, fill out and submit your event details here. This information will then be posted on the website and, as long as you have submitted the event far enough in advance, an email will be sent out to petition signers in your area.
I would like to have a Move to Amend speaker come to my area, how do I go about arranging this?
In the tradition of the mighty Populist Movement, Move to Amend's experienced and acclaimed speakers will be crisscrossing the country in 2012, spreading the word about the campaign to amend the constitution and inspiring action! Find out when we'll be in your area and sign up to host an event here.
If you have questions about bringing a Move to Amend speaker to your community please send an email to with “Speaker Request” in the subject. Please note that we are already booked through 2012 so if you have a particular date in mind, we may not be able to accommodate it. We will do our best!
What is a Move to Amend resolution, what is the purpose of working to get one passed and are there example resolutions available?
A resolution is a statement of collective support. It is not a law, and thus cannot be overturned by corporate lawyers. By working to pass a resolution more people become aware of this issue and it builds movement momentum.
Passing a resolution is a strong signal to local, state and federal legislators that community members want to see an amendment passed and it puts pressure on these elected officials to act accordingly. The ways in which you can pass a resolution will depend on the laws in the state and locality where you live.
Can I have access to the contact information for petition signers in my area?
Only registered MTA Affiliates have access to our database of MTA supporters. For information about the requirements and process for affiliation, click here.
How do I get my group’s details listed on the Move to Amend website?
To have your group’s information posted you must first be a Move to Amend Affiliate. For information about the requirements and process for affiliation, click here.