Corporations are not people

“Democrats support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. We need to end secret, unaccountable money in politics by requiring, through executive order or legislation, significantly more disclosure and transparency—by outside groups, federal contractors, and public corporations to their shareholders. We need to amplify the voices of the American people through a small donor matching public financing system. We need to overhaul and strengthen the Federal Election Commission so that there is real enforcement of campaign finance laws. And we need to fight to eliminate super PACs and outside spending abuses.” – Democratic Party platform

There are currently three resolutions in the House and one in the Senate calling for a “Corporations are not People Amendment” to the Constitution of the United States:

  • House Joint Resolution 48 has been introduced by Representative Richard Nolan (MN).  As of February 13, 2018, it had 51 cosponsors.
  • House Joint Resolution 88 has been introduced by Representative James McGovern.  As of February 13, 2018, it had 16 cosponsors.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 20 has been introduced by Senator Jon Tester (MT). As of February 13, 2018, it had one cosponsor.
  • House Joint Resolution 377 has been introduced by Representative Richard Nolan (MN). As of February 13, 2018, it had no cosponsors.

In general, these resolutions make it clear that corporations are not people and are subject to regulation by the governments of the United States and of the states.  There are subtle differences in the wording of these resolutions:

House Joint Resolution 48 proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.

House Joint Resolution 88 and Senate Joint Resolution 20 both propose “an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state.

House Resolution 377 expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should confirm that money is not free speech and that corporations are not people for purposes of the First Amendment right to make campaign contributions by enacting a constitutional amendment overturning the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and should restore the right of Congress and the States to impose limits on the amount of expenditures that may be made by candidates and others in support of elections for public office by enacting a constitutional amendment overturning the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Buckley v. Valeo.