Democrats ‘People’s Rights Amendment’ A Disaster For Free Speech
April 21, 2012 4 Comments
It’s no secret that the far left hates the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which ruled the corporate entities have free speech rights under the First Amendment. The decision more or less affirms what the First Amendment is, a protection of political speech. Corporations are little more than groups of individuals and thus are free to speak politically as they see fit. Nancy Pelosi and other left-wing Democrats are introducing a s0-called “People’s Rights Amendment” which would allow the Federal government to limit or outright ban corporate speech. The amendment would be a disaster and would severely limit individual speech.
The text of the People’s Rights Amendment reads as follows:
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.
Pelosi and company are going to try to sell this amendment by suggesting it would ban political corporate free speech. Surely the Federal or state governments could ban corporations from buying ads in political campaigns, it could ban PAC’s and other government created entities from buying ads. But it could also ban all advertisements of any kind. It could ban corporations from selling products that contain speech. For example, they could ban any speech on the box of a Happy Meal. The amendment could literally ban books if they are produced and sold by corporate entities. Sure the author could publish on his own and be protected by the People’s Rights Amendment and the First Amendment but once his book goes corporate the speech could literally be banned by this new amendment.
This amendment would even ban speech by non-profit organizations. Name your favorite charity, it’s likely a non-profit corporation. It could be banned by the government from advertizing, it could be banned by the government from soliciting donations all under the People’s Right’s Amendment. Many churches are organized as non-profit corporations. The Federal government could ban church advertizing, they could regulate or even ban church services as they are “speech” made by corporate entities. Many political campaigns are incorporated, in fact both Romney and Obama’s campaigns are incorporated. That could mean that all of their advertizing, all of their speech could be banned by the Federal government.
You might say that’s not what Nancy Pelosi is after, she just wants to ban corporate entities from buying political ads during campaign season. That may be what she and others will say when they’re selling this amendment. But that’s not what the text of the amendment says. It says the speech of corporate entities is subject to regulation by government. It doesn’t say what kind of speech, it doesn’t say what kind of regulation. As such when looking at the amendment we must take into account all of the power that it gives the government. It literally gives them the power to ban all corporate speech, no matter what kind. The possibilities are endless for government regulation.
One major issue that would certainly come up at the Supreme Court is the interplay between what is corporate speech and what is individual speech. Steve Jobs when he was alive often gave speeches concerning new Apple products. Can his speeches be banned by the Federal government so long as he’s speaking on behalf of Apple? Or does he possess an individual right to speak about the corporation he works for and the products it offers? Section’s 2 and 3 create a conflict in this situation. We could ask the same thing concerning a pastor of an incorporated non-profit church. When he preaches, is speaking for the corporate entity or himself? Do we the people really want the Supreme Court to make such a determination?
The People’s Rights Amendment is a political ploy by the Democrats to further make a boogeyman out of corporations and business. It would decimate free speech and business in this country as it would give the government the ultimate power of control over corporate entities. Even if Pelosi says that isn’t her goal, the text of the amendment grants government the ability to completely control or ban the speech made by corporations. This amendment would be the final nail in the coffin of free speech in America and free enterprise in America.