Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Citizens United Amendment Summary


January 21, 2012 is the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

Joint Resolution Proposing the Twenty-third Am...

Today, I choose to look forward to the day it is overturned. In that vein, I offer a survey of Constitutional Amendments proposed to achieve that end. I will analyze them in future diaries. This is just a reference.

Article V of the Constitution provides for two methods of amendment. Congress can propose an amendment with 2/3 approval from each chamber. Joint Resolutions are the vehicles used for this process. Once approved by Congress and signed by the President, 3/4 of the state legislatures must ratify it.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 29:

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 33:

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

112th Senate Joint Resolution 35:

Section 1

Congress shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, a Federal office, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.

Section 2

A State shall have the power to regulate the contribution of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations to a candidate for election to, or for nomination for election to, public office in the State, and the power to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations, entities organized and operated for profit, and labor organizations made in support of, or opposition to, such candidates.

Section 3

Nothing contained in this Amendment shall be construed to allow Congress or a State to make any law abridging the freedom of the press.

House Joint Resolutions and others after the fold…

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January 21, 2012 Posted by | 112th Congress, Campaign Finance, Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

112th Congress HJRes78 – A Citizens United Amendment


Ii I analyze any more Democrat Bills, I will have to come up with a new category for them.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.J. Res. 78 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. J. RES. 78

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.
_______________________________________________________________________

                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           September 12, 2011

  Ms. Edwards (for herself and Mr. Conyers) introduced the following 
 joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to 
   clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the 
      expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled   (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

                              ``Article--

    ``Section 1. Nothing in this Constitution shall prohibit Congress 
and the States from imposing content-neutral regulations and 
restrictions on the expenditure of funds for political activity by any 
corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity, 
including but not limited to contributions in support of, or in 
opposition to, a candidate for public office.

    ``Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed 
to abridge the freedom of the press.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

This is similar to my second proposed amendment in that it works to deny Constitutional protection to corporate political spending. This is probably the least disruptive method from a legal standpoint, but it retains the “regulating the hand that feeds” conflict of interest problem.

It does not include organized religion, which should not be engaging in political campaigns but do anyway.

To be fair, it does not include unions either. On the other hand, unions are associations of actual people, not “artificial persons”. They do not pose the same threat to our sovereignty as corporations. Perhaps someday an adjustment will need to be made, but that becomes a slippery slope problem.

Section 2:

The freedom of the press must be maintained, though the corporate media undermines the Fourth Estate through the corrupt use of ownership powers.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 134 (Monday, September 12, 2011)]
[House]
[Pages H6097-H6098]

From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

 By Ms. EDWARDS:
 H.J. Res. 78.

[[Page H6098]]

 Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant
 to the following:
 Article V of the Constitution.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

This is a simple and straightforward answer to Citizens United. Without a mandate, I think that there would be many partisan battles over regulation. Especially when one party confuses corporations with living people.

I also think it needs an enacting clause. Other than that, I like it.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , , | 1 Comment

112th Congress SJRes29 – A Citizens United Amendment


I usually reserve my analysis for the republican clunkers. This is the second time I have analyzed a Democrat Bill.

The Joint Resolution:


[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S.J. Res. 29 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
S. J. RES. 29

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.
_______________________________________________________________________

                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            November 1, 2011

   Mr. Udall of New Mexico (for himself, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Harkin, Mr. 
Durbin, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Begich, and Mrs. 
  Shaheen) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read 
          twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
_______________________________________________________________________

                            JOINT RESOLUTION

    Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States 
     relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect 
                               elections.

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House 
concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be 
valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when 
ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States 
within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress:

                              ``Article--

    ``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.''.

                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

I see three problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues. While issues are not directly on the ballot, they are still an integral part of a political campaign.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. The politicians setting the regulations, without direction or mandate, are the ones who benefit from the current state of campaign financing. This leaves plenty of room for continued influence peddling.

Section 2:

There are similar problems with this section:

  1. It does not cover issues.
  2. It does not cover Constitutional Amendments.
  3. It does not cover referenda.
  4. It does not cover local elections.
  5. It does not cover other Questions put to the voters, such as millage.
  6. It does not cover cross-state interference in local politics. The sovereignty of the individual states is being challenged by out-of-state money.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

None given (yet), but Article V of the Constitution covers it.

Article V:

    • The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution,
    • or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,
  • which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when
    • ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,
    • or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,

    as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

  • Provided
    • that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;
    • and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Related Bills:


Conclusion

I do not believe that this proposed amendment goes far enough to protect our democratic process from the influence of non-citizens or the excessive influence of the very rich.

November 6, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Constitution, Legislation | , , , | 1 Comment

Wall Street Occupation — a Cry to End Corporate Influence in Elections?


TAKE OUT THE TRASH #occupywallstreet

Image by otromundoesposible_com via Flickr

Corporate influence has robbed us of our sovereignt­y. Getting corporate money out of politics is key to restoring government by consent of the governed. I see two courses of action, both of which involve amending the Constituti­on. This poses a significan­t problem due to the appropriat­ely high bar to change imposed by the amendment process and the absolute devotion of republican­s to the corporatio­ns.

Option 1: Completely revoke recognitio­n of “personhoo­d” for corporatio­ns; and restore only the rights necessary to engage in contractua­l obligation­s and other basic functions of business, through changes to the law. Trying to end “personhoo­d” before developing an alternativ­e would create legal chaos that would be economical­ly disastrous­. Legislatin­g an alternativ­e while “personhoo­d” was still in effect would let corporatio­ns design the alternativ­e, rendering the effort expensive and self-defea­ting.

Option 2: Restrict corporate free-speec­h rights. This is doable, but a very slippery slope.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 8, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citizens United


Citizens United.

The United States Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Building

Conservative activist judges defied precedent and judicial restraint to give unrestrained political speech to corporate entities and special interests without regard for the chilling effect on free speech for natural citizens. Roberts and Alito violated some of the very principles they claimed (during their confirmation hearings) made a good judge.

There is much I would like to say on the subject, but Justice John Paul Stevens has already said what needs to be said far more thoroughly and in greater detail than I could ever hope to. With difficulty, I condensed part of his dissent into what I devoted a whole page to.

Citizens United

Just for a taste, he  said things like:

The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation. While that glittering generality has rhetorical appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law.

and

The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution (SCOTUS).

and

Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.

and

The unnecessary resort to a facial inquiry “run[s] contrary to the fundamental principle of judicial restraint that courts should neither anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it nor formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.”. Scanting that principle “threaten[s] to short circuit the democratic process by preventing laws embodying the will of the people from being implemented in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”

It is easy to take a few sound bites out of context, stripping it of it’s full and intended meaning. In my excerpt, I strove to remain faithful to the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens,  and the length shows it. The result only covers a portion of the dissent, and I recommend reading the whole dissent. If you do not  have the time, at least start with my excerpts on my “Citizens United” page.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Government, SCOTUS Rulings, Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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