Groundbreaking Constitutional Amendment Introduced in Congress

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ensures Constitutional Rights for People, Not Corporations

Rep. Pramila Jayapal and House Members Respond to Hundreds of Local Resolutions Calling for “We the People” Amendment

(Washington D.C.) - The movement for Constitutional reform that would end what organizers call “corporate rule” has arrived in the chambers of the 116th Congress. Today, members of the U.S. House of Representatives lead by Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), joined Move to Amend by announcing their sponsorship of the “We the People Amendment,” which clearly and unequivocally states that:

1    Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and 

2    Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment making it possible once again for Congress and state governments to institute campaign finance reform.

“Our the Constitution says ‘We the People,’ not ‘We the Corporations,’ stated Representative Jayapal. “When I first ran for Congress I took Move to Amend’s Pledge because I believe corporations exist to serve the public welfare, not for the public to serve them. That same year, Move to Amend won a ballot initiative in my home state of Washington — now they’ve passed resolutions in over 700 communities across the United States. It is time for Congress to catch up. We are supposed to be the People’s House and we need to start acting like it. Big corporate money has been working against the interests of Americans for far too long. We have to restore the voice of the people in our democracy, and that starts with passing the We the People Amendment.”  

“When corporations are able to claim Constitutional rights it makes meaningful regulation of their behavior impossible,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend’s National Director. “Our government is currently legally beholden to billionaires and their corporations because of this doctrine that was invented by a Supreme Court overreach. We must overrule the Court and make clear that human rights come first. Our ability to address life and death issues like climate change, or the opioid epidemic, or astronomical healthcare costs, depends on passing the We the People Amendment.”

The Move to Amend coalition was formed in 2009 in preparation for the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Today, the coalition of over 462,000 people and hundreds of organizations has helped to pass over 700 resolutions in municipalities and local governments across the country calling on the state and federal governments to adopt this amendment. Eighteen state legislatures have passed similar resolutions.

Addressing money as a form of free speech is a non-partisan issue with overwhelming support from Americans across the political spectrum. 88 percent of Americans want to reduce the influence large campaign donors wield over lawmakers. Three-fourths of survey respondents — including 66 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats — back a constitutional amendment to address the problem.

The Move to Amend coalition makes a point of differentiating themselves from the other proposals that have come forward in response to Citizens United. "The Citizens United decision is not the cause, it is a symptom of the systemic problem of the Courts extending constitutional rights under the 1st, 4th, 5th, 14th Amendments to corporations,” stated Sopoci-Belknap “The public has voted for an amendment to outlaw corporate personhood over 300 times, in liberal and conservative communities alike. The message is clear: we must stop giving away our Constitutional rights to corporations and we must remove big money and special interests from the legal and political process entirely."

In addition to lead sponsor Pramila Jayapal (WA), initial Co-Sponsors are: Betty McCollum (MN), Peter DeFazio (OR), Ro Khanna (CA), Tim Ryan (OH), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Mark Takano (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Tulsi Gabbard (HI).

House Joint Resolution 48 - We the People Amendment Text

Section 1.

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

Artificial 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.

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence 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 1st Amendment.

Section 3.

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


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