There have been numerous legislative attempts to blunt the effects of the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, but Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) have decided to go one step further. They are introducing a constitutional amendment that would once and for all declare that corporations do not enjoy the same constitutional rights as individual citizens.
Sanders took to Huffington Post to express his dismay that a slim 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court took a relatively narrow question and issued a sweeping order that overturned decades of judicial precedent.
Sanders said he has been active trying to blunt the effects of the ruling, but has come to believe that an amendment spelling out once and for all that a corporation is not the same thing as a private citizen is necessary.
It is his believe, said Sanders, that the Founding Fathers had no intention of setting up a system in which corporations can spend millions of dollars from undisclosed sources, which rightfully belongs to shareholders, in order to attempt to buy elections.
“Make no mistake; the Citizens United ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy,” wrote Sanders. “It has further tilted the balance of the power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when the wealthiest people in this country already never had it so good. In my view, history will record that the Citizens United decision is one of the worst in the history of our country.”
Deutch itemized the intended goals of the amendment:
* Makes clear that free speech and other constitutionally protected rights are those of natural persons and not corporations or entities formed to promote their business interests.
* Reaffirms that corporations are formed in accordance with laws written by the people and are thus subject to laws enacted to protect the environment, ensure public health, and other safeguards for the people.
* Overturns Citizens United by ending corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of their general treasury funds in elections.
* Empowers Congress and the States to crack down on spending by third party front groups using anonymous cash from corporations and their CEOs and authorizes the setting of caps, limits, and disclosure requirements on all forms of political expenditures and contributions.
“The dominance of corporations in Washington has imperiled the economic security of the American people and left our citizens profoundly disenchanted with our democracy,: said Deutch. “I look forward to working with Senator Sanders to save American democracy by banning all corporate spending in our elections and cracking down on secret front groups using anonymous corporate cash to undermine the public interest.”
RBR-TVBR observation: There is nothing fast-track about an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment. In fact, generally, such efforts are doomed to failure. The chances of this effort having any effect of the 2012 elections are nil.