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[under construction]

There are quite a few suggestions for the wording of an amendment to the United States Constitution that would address either the issue of corporate constitutional rights or excessive campaign contributions, and directly change the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United v. FEC ruling, and there are a number of organizations which have an amendment as a goal. A good list of those that have been introduced in Congress can be found at  http://united4thepeople.org/amendments/

The ones below are the most recently introduced or proposed amendment, or ones that have clauses that would contribute to what could be a very good amendment, or address issues that other amendments do not. See our discussion of issues of major concern (amendment language issues page), and modified versions that come closer to what we want ( “improved” versions).

(Under construction) Below you can find amendment language from:

1. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, S.J.Res. 5 (1/21/15)

2. Reps. Nolan & Pocan, H.J.Res. 48, Move to Amend’s version (4/28/15)

4. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, S.J.Res. 7 (2/4/15)

5. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (11/17/11) & Sen. Bernie Sanders (12/8/11)

6. U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (1/22/13)

8. U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth and Walter Jones (12/20/11)

9. A proposal from Rick Staggenborg

10. A proposal from Charlie Rosenberg

 

1(a). Udall introduced a related amendment in 2013, and there was a hearing in September of 2014. This is the product of those hearings. Co-sponsors include Merkley, Wyden, Warren, and Sanders. There is an identical house version introduced by Rep. Deutch, H.J.Res. 22, with co-sponsors DeFazio, Bonamicci, Blumenaur, Schrader, and even one Republican – Walter Jones from North Carolina.

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

1(b). Below is Udall’s version introduced in 2013, which was changed to the one above (1a) as a result of the Senate hearings in 2014. The portions in bold were added to the 2011 version.

Section 1. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, each State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on—

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and

(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

Section 4. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1(c). Udall’s 2011 version is below. You can see that several changes were made to this for the 2013 version above to limit government’s power to regulate campaign finance. The phrase beginning “To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all…” was added, and a freedom of the press reminder was added.

Section 1. Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2. A State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on—

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and

(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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2(a). Reps. Pocan & Nolan, H.J.Res. 48, a version from Move to Amend (4/28/15):

Section 1.  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  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 First Amendment.

2(b). Reps. Pocan & Nolan, H.J.Res. 29 (2/14/13). Note that the bolded words in section 2 below were changed to the bolded words in section 2 above, and that section 3 below was dropped for 2015:

Section 1. 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. 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.

Section 3. Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

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4. Tester, S.J.Res. 7 (2/4/15). Sen. Whitehouse is a cosponsor. Tester introduced a similar amendment in 2013.

Section 1. The rights enumerated in this Constitution and other rights retained by the people shall be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2. As used in this Constitution, the terms ‘people’, ‘person’, and ‘citizen’ shall not include a corporation, a limited liability company, or any other corporate entity established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state.

Section 3. A corporate entity described in section 2 shall be subject to such regulation as the people, through representatives in Congress and State representatives, may determine reasonable, consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

Section 4. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to limit the rights enumerated in this Constitution and other rights retained by the people, which are unalienable.”.

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5. Florida Congressman Ted Deutch has introduced (11/17/11) the following very strong amendment. Vermont Senator Bernie Sander introduced an identical version in the Senate (12/8/11).

SECTION 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

SECTION 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.

SECTION 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

SECTION 4. Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.

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6. Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern introduced (1/22/13) the following pair of fairly good amendment (DeFazio is one of the co-sponsors)

H.J. Res. 20

Section 1. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on–
(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and
(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, a State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on–
(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and
(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

H.J. Res. 21

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. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do 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, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are unalienable.

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8. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced the following amendment (12/20/11)

SECTION 1. Financial expenditures, or in kind equivalents, with respect to a candidate for Federal office, without regard to whether or not a communication expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate in the election, shall not constitute protected speech, as guaranteed by this Constitution or any amendment to this Constitution.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have the power to enact a mandatory public financing system to provide funds to qualified candidates in elections for Federal office, which shall be the sole source of funds raised or spent with respect to Federal elections.

SECTION 3. Congress shall set forth a legal public holiday for the purposes of voting in regularly scheduled general elections for Federal office.

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9. Rick Staggenborg, a physician in Coos Bay, OR, has proposed a number of versions. This is the latest that I could find, and his proposals are getting stronger each time. See Soldiers for Peace International.

SECTION 1. The rights, responsibilities, and privileges granted to “person” or “persons” as enumerated in this Constitution, its amendments, and extended through case law are exclusively reserved for human beings.

SECTION 2. All non-living entities established by law in the United States shall be subordinate to any and all laws enacted by the people and their elected governments. Corporations shall be defined as “persons” only for the purposes of contracting, suing, being sued, transacting business and continuity of operations as people come and go, as defined under state and federal law. Corporate charters do not limit the liability of officers of corporations or board members from criminal prosecution for acts authorized by them on behalf of the corporation.

SECTION 3. No non-living entity may donate to political campaigns directly or indirectly. All donations must come from the personal assets of individuals or via public funds expressly authorized by law to be used for that purpose. Congress and the states shall limit or abolish individual donations or other expenditures intended to influence the outcome of elections.

SECTION 4. No corporation shall pay, contribute or offer, consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.

SECTION 5. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to abridge individual rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press or other inalienable rights of the People.

SECTION 6. Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

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10. From Charlie Rosenberg in 2011

Incorporation is a privilege granted by the sovereign people, by and through their elected representatives, when it shall seem good or expedient to promote the general welfare;

1) Except as provided in this article, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as extending any right, privilege, or immunity to any corporation; nor shall the terms “person” and “people,” as employed in this Constitution, be construed to encompass corporations.

2) Natural born persons who exercise their right peaceably to assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances, or to exercise in common any rights, privileges and immunities protected by the First Amendment to this Constitution, shall not be impaired in the exercise of those rights because they choose to incorporate, solely for that purpose.

3) Neither the United States nor any state shall deprive any corporation of property without due process of law; nor deny any corporation the equal protection of laws applicable to other corporations similarly situated.

4) Powers not explicitly granted to a corporation by its charter or by generally applicable laws governing all corporations similarly situated are reserved to the states, to the Congress in exercising its enumerated power to regulate commerce, and to the people.

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