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house Bill H. Joint Res. 48

Should the Constitution Bar Corporations From Having the Same Rights as People?

Argument in favor

The Supreme Court got it wrong on Citizens United. The only way to restore the integrity of elections in the U.S. is to amend the Constitution to keep corporations and PACs from spending insane sums of money to influence elections. Besides, corporations aren’t people and don’t deserve free speech!

Gary's Opinion
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10/17/2016
Letting corporations have the same rights as people effectively gives everyone in the corporations two lobbying routes while everyone else has one with little hope of effect.
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Greg's Opinion
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10/18/2016
Unless we're going to allow corporations to vote, they should not be seen as persons.
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Leo's Opinion
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10/17/2016
Can a corporation get married? Or have children? Corporations have some rights and protections but they are not people.
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Argument opposed

Any organization or entity should have the right to free speech, including corporations. This legislation is so broadly worded that it would actually strip away additional privileges from corporations in addition to First Amendment rights, so it’d require separate legislation to preserve those other rights.

Sawyer's Opinion
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10/17/2016
A corporation is literally a group of people putting their money together to fund something in hopes to make a profit beyond that of the money they put in. If it's a group of people, why shouldn't it have the rights that every person in it has?
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Cameron's Opinion
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10/17/2016
As a collection of shareholders, (who are people by the way), a corporation should not only have the rights of a person, such as free speech, etc, but the rights of a group of people, because that is what corporation is, a group of people pooling their assets to create a better return on them.
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Loraki's Opinion
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10/18/2016
This bill is yet another tiresome attempt by the liberals to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. GREAT ANSWER FROM COUNTABLE MEMBER "OPERAMAN": "If this bill passes, then it's a step to rewrite our Constitution. It would also affect Google, Apple and multiple left leaning corporations who support Democrats to seek new ways to cheat stockholders of dividends to support their socialist candidates. But then, this never affected Unions who steals from members to support progressives who then supports causes that support Unions. For example, Obama using taxpayers money for "Shovel Ready Jobs" but instead used the money to support the Teacher's Union Pension Fund who just happened to donate to Obama's Election Committees. So the circle continues to turn. Pray for our Constitution. We won't survive without it. Wonder if Hillary is using Venezuela as a template?" If corporations aren't afforded their right to "put their money where their mouth is," then neither should unions be! A corporation is a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter (i.e. by an ad hoc act granted by a monarch or passed by a parliament or legislature). Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively. To have legal personality means to be capable of holding legal rights and obligations within a certain legal system, such as entering into contracts, suing, and being sued. Legal personality is a prerequisite to legal capacity, the ability of any legal person to amend (enter into, transfer, etc.) rights and obligations. In international law, consequently, legal personality is a prerequisite for an international organization to be able to sign international treaties in its own name. A holder of legal personality is called as a person (Latin: persona). Persons are of two kinds: natural persons (also called physical persons) and juridical persons (also called juridic, juristic, artificial, legal, or fictitious persons, Latin: persona ficta) – entities such as corporations, which are treated in law as if they are persons. While human beings acquire legal personhood when they are born, juridical persons do so when they are incorporated in accordance with law. Juridical personality allows one or more natural persons (universitas personarum) to act as a single entity (body corporate) for legal purposes. In many jurisdictions, artificial personality allows that entity to be considered under law separately from its individual members (for example in a company limited by shares, its shareholders). They may sue and be sued, enter contracts, incur debt, and own property. Entities with legal personality may also be subjected to certain legal obligations, such as the payment of taxes. An entity with legal personality may shield its members from personal liability. The concept of a juridical person is now central to Western law in both common-law and civil-law countries, but it is also found in virtually every legal system. The concept of legal personhood for organizations of people is at least as old as Ancient Rome: a variety of collegial institutions enjoyed the benefit under Roman law. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_personality#Creation_and_history_of_the_doctrine?wprov=sfsi1 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood#Corporate_personhood_in_the_United_States?wprov=sfsi1
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What is House Bill H. Joint Res. 48?

This resolution would amend the U.S. Constitution to specify that constitutional rights are only available to people, not corporations or other lawfully established entities. The judiciary would be prohibited from  It would also direct government at all levels to restrict contributions and expenditures to political campaigns and ensure that they’re disclosed publicly.

As a joint resolution that would amend the Constitution, this legislation wouldn’t require the approval of the president to be enacted and allow for ratification by states.

Impact

Organizations such as corporations, non-profits, and limited liability companies; state legislatures; Congress; and the Constitution.

Cost of House Bill H. Joint Res. 48

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced this constitutional amendment to lay the groundwork for Congress to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizen’s United, which found that political donations are free speech and can’t be limited. While Nolan concedes it may take time, he told MinnPost that he believes his proposal or something like it will eventually be passed:

“I have every confidence that, whether or not this resolution can be passed during this particular Congress, I have no doubt that it will ultimately be passed. It wouldn’t surprise me if it took five, 10 years.”

Critics of this legislation have suggested that it is too far reaching, and would actually strip additional rights unrelated to political speech from corporations. Rep. Nolan’s office said there “would have to be accommodating statutory changes preserving those rights before an amendment like this takes effect.”

This legislation has the support of 22 cosponsors in the House, including 21 Democrats and a Republican.


Of Note: According to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, spending by outside groups in 2014 Senate races more than doubled from spending levels in the pre-Citizens United 2010 Senate elections to $486 million.

Montana voters adopted an initiative in 2012 that stated corporations aren’t entitled to constitutional rights because they aren’t people.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Hollywata)

Official Title

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.

joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedApril 28th, 2015
    Letting corporations have the same rights as people effectively gives everyone in the corporations two lobbying routes while everyone else has one with little hope of effect.
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    A corporation is literally a group of people putting their money together to fund something in hopes to make a profit beyond that of the money they put in. If it's a group of people, why shouldn't it have the rights that every person in it has?
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    Unless we're going to allow corporations to vote, they should not be seen as persons.
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    Can a corporation get married? Or have children? Corporations have some rights and protections but they are not people.
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    "We the people" does not sound like "we the business".
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    As some say in support of giving corporations a personhood: "the corporation is a group of people working together...". If we accept this argument then we are saying that if you get employed for a corporation in any position other then as an executive, then you immediately give up all your individual rights and become subject to the primary shareholders and executives rights. At no company ever did the owners ever say "we all have equally important parts, so let's make sure everyone is treated equally!", though our nation was founded on that very principle. Corporations themselves are like dictatorships, totalitarian states. You give up your rights in order to survive being employed by one, and in the process grant the tyrannical corporation your right as a person? Scary philosophy, and its gives corporations and the small group of people at the top way too much leverage over the layman.
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    Corporations are not people, period.
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    Corporations are not people and and have no business enjoying the same rights as individual human beings.
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    As a collection of shareholders, (who are people by the way), a corporation should not only have the rights of a person, such as free speech, etc, but the rights of a group of people, because that is what corporation is, a group of people pooling their assets to create a better return on them.
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    Why is this even a thing? Oh yeah bc our government was sold to the highest bidder. Vote em all out!!
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    Corporations are not people.
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    Corporations are not people. People go to jail for theft, fraud, murder, and other crimes; corporations do not. They don't get the same rights, they have special rights that we the people do not. This is fascism. No f?ck@n thanks!!!!!!!
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    The people who voted NAY to this bill are either ignorant, trolling, or are genuine idiots. Corporations are NOT PEOPLE! Can corporations marry? Can corporations run for political office? Can corporations eat food? No, no, and no. What corporations can do, however, is buy off our politicians through unlimited monetary donations thanks to that stupid Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010! If you honestly have bought into the whole "Money is free speech!" BULLS***, then just know that that means that the people with the most money have the biggest voices. Who would that be? The rich, who account for about 1% of the American population. In other words, you advocate for an oligarchy where a bunch of wealthy snobs have more influence over our government than us, the working people. Hopefully, this opened your eyes.
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    Of course! While the Supreme Court followed the law they failed to follow logic. Corporations are not people. Good people have a moral compass. Corporations are for profit and as such strive profits without regard to social and/or moral implications. This is not necessarily true of non profits. History is rift with examples of corporations disregarding common good in persuit of profit. This has been used to allow those in power to exercise undue influence over our political process. As such surely this was not the result the court envisioned. This must be overturned by Citizens United to back to every vote counting equally.
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    Citizens United MUST BE RESCINDED by law of constitutional amendment in order to stick or Hillary must appoint a progressive. A conservative Supreme Court allowed it in a 5-4 vote. Corporations are influencing our political system to the point that they are literally buying elections and buying politicians. Corporations are not citizens. Rescind Citizens United by electing Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. Republicans won't do it, they are the party that created the problem. The SCOTUS has been a conservative court for five decades. It's time for a Democrat and a progressive court to fix it.
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    The amount of corporate influence in the elections and on politics is staggering. For these reasons we still don't have any real good financial or environmental regulations. Any step taken to get corporate influence out of politics is a good one
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    Corporations are not people
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    Corporations are not people, stop treating them like people!
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    Corporations are run by people and they should not be granted personhood.
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    We ought to have the right to associate freely but the rights that are inherent to us as individuals ought not extend to the groups we create.
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