Constitutional amendment that would end corporate personhood, minimize money in politics faces steep climb in Wisconsin, nationally – The Badger Project

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The US Constitution has been amended 27 times since its inception, but only since 1992.

By Hina Suzuki, Bajaj project

If you agree that corporations should not have the same rights as people, and money is not protected speech, this amendment is for you.

The “We the People” amendment states that the rights set forth in the US Constitution are for individual people, not groups of people such as corporations and labor unions. It also limits political spending and requires all political contributions and expenditures to be publicly disclosed.

Wisconsin United to reformSelf-described as a populist party, it has been working to make inroads in the region since its inception in 2010.

The reform aims to “take big money out of politics” and remove corporate personalities, said George Penn, the group’s outreach coordinator.

Wisconsin United is a local partner to Reform. Take to the updateA national, non-partisan organization advocating across the country for “We the People” reform. The group was founded in 2010.

The movement stems from opposition to US Supreme Court decisions, Penn said.

Since In 1886 In a decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co., the court has long granted constitutional rights to “artificial entities” such as labor unions and corporations, Penn pointed out. of In 1976 Buckley v. Valeo’s decision is free speech at the expense of politics, and in it 2010 In the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a Supreme Court justice ruled that limiting political spending by corporations and labor unions violates the First Amendment.

“Jefferson and Madison predicted that corporations and the super-rich would eventually control this country, and they didn’t want corporations to become people,” Penn said. “It is the corruption of the Supreme Court to make these decisions.”

But to make that change, the US Constitution must be amended, something that has happened 27 times, but not since 1992.

“The reform process is difficult — and by design,” Nilesh Sinha, a visiting scholar in political science at UW–Eau Claire, told The Badger Project in an email.

It takes a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or a convention called by at least two-thirds of the 50 state legislatures. The amendment must then be ratified or approved by three-fourths of state legislatures.

The chances of the “we the people” amendment being passed are very low, Sinha said.

“Despite reform on the issues where there is overwhelming consensus, the constitutional rights of corporations and campaign finance reform are not issues that create this level of consensus,” he said.

But the amendment is slowly making progress, because 22 states support it. Wisconsin is not one of those states.

The state of Wisconsin’s refusal to ratify the amendment may have been based on what Penn described as an “anti-democratic” state government.

“They don’t want it and they don’t care,” Penn said.

Nilesh Sinha, visiting scholar in political science at UW–Eau Claire

Wisconsin has some of the most popular political districts in the state for the state legislature, experts say, protecting the Republican majority from voters and pollsters who drew the maps.

“We’re building the movement until we get a state legislature that will listen,” Penn said.

More than 170 local governments in Wisconsin have called for reform since 2011 through Wisconsin United, a reform effort to encourage Wisconsinites to talk to their local governments about reform.

“Our goal is to keep up the pressure and continue to build the movement until our state government is ready to make the call,” Penn said.

He noted that more than 800 local governments across the country support the amendment.

In Congress, it was the beginning of the “We the People” amendment. Introduced Formerly Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) in 2013. Since then, the bill has been introduced repeatedly. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), head of the Progressive Caucus; Introduced Again in March 2023.

In addition to the high rate of passage of any constitutional amendment in the US, the effort has more challenges, Sinha noted.

He said the recognition of corporate personhood, which gives corporations First Amendment speech protection, would fuel opposition to the “We the People” amendment in Congress. He also said the amendment appears to be anti-business, at least on the surface.

This can be done in powerful and wallet-friendly opponents.

“When corporations contribute to campaigns, they are expressing political preferences and engaging in advocacy,” Sinha said. “This corporate speech should be protected.”

Badger project It is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.


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