One day after the three-year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling for Citizens United, the fight to overturn it has begun. Two bills were introduced by U.S. Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts: one that declares that corporations are not people, and one that says that Congress has the power to regulate the financing of political campaigns.
Both pieces of legislation are the first step in what will likely be a long and bitter fight to make an addition to the U.S. Constitution. If successful, it would mark the 28th Amendment to this country’s sacred document of governance. The last time an amendment was ratified was in 1992. It took over 200 years for it to pass the 2/3 majority of both Houses and the 3/4 majority of the states to meet the requirements. Most probably don’t remember it. It determined when changes could be made to Congress’ pay. Most would not consider that a life-altering change. However, many would agree that the current proposed Amendment does matter to them.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruled for Citizens United, 80% said that they disagreed with the ruling. Since then, sentiment has softened some, with 62% saying they opposed the ruling. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center had similar findings. Of those who were familiar with the Supreme Court ruling, 65% felt that the Super PACs had a negative impact on campaigns. Surely, supporters realize that as time passes, their window of opportunity will get smaller.
That’s why the groups that support the Amendment are making sure people don’t forget. Groups pushing for the Amendment include Free Speech for People, Public Citizen, and People for the American Way. Move to Amend is another group that has worked hard to gather support for the change. They have regular rallies to spread the word, their website is full of information on the topic, and their petition has over 250,000 signers.
Whichever version you look at, they all seem to come to the same conclusion – corporations are not people. Congressman McGovern stated it best when he proposed his version:
The fact is, corporations are not people. And the Constitution was never intended to give corporations the same rights as the American people. Corporations don’t breathe. They don’t have kids. And they don’t die in wars.
Even though this makes sense to the average person, it seems that commonsense is often hard to find in the legislative realm. This will surely be a test of whether or not people really do want change. Surely they don’t believe corporations are equal to people, but it seems that the last round of elections has turned people off, even to a change that would restore commonsense. Perhaps Congressman McGovern has timed his bills right, and change will soon ensue.