According to CNSnews.com, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress announced on Thursday that they have moved to ratify an amendment to the United States Constitution that would give Congress power to control the political speech of corporations, including those corporations that produce films, newspapers, books, and radio broadcasts. The amendment would seek to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in which the High Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of free speech for corporations as well as individuals. It was this decision that President Obama openly criticized during his State of the Union address in January of 2010.
Minority Leader Pelosi said that the move to amend the Constitution was part of a three-pronged strategy that includes passage of the DISCLOSE Act, which would further regulate disclosure requirements for organizations that run political ads, and promotion of taxpayer funding of political campaigns. Ms. Pelosi said, “Our Founders had an idea. It was called democracy. It said elections are determined by the people, the voice and the vote of the people, not by the bankrolls of the privileged few. This Supreme Court decision flies in the face of our Founders’ vision and we want to reverse it.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), who is also sponsoring the amendment, said, “I’ve introduced a People’s Rights Amendment, which is very simple and straightforward. It would make clear that all corporate entities, for-profit and non-profit alike, are not people with constitutional rights. It treats all corporations, including incorporated unions and nonprofits, in the same way, as artificial creatures of the state that we, the people, govern, not the other way around.”
The First Amendment of the Constitution says, in part, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
In a concurring opinion supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:
The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concerns.