Statement Supporting Ending Corporate Constitutional Rights and Money as Free Speech

Democracy is founded on the premise that the People are the source of all power. “We the People” created corporations as tools to serve us, not themselves. As sovereigns we can regulate and restrict corporations as we see fit. The Supreme Court’s invention of constitutional rights for corporations has turned this fundamental principle on its head.

For the first 100 plus years of our history, corporations were strictly controlled and had no constitutional rights.  Corporations could not even exist unless state legislation—called charters—created them. Statutes created corporations to give them the powers needed to conduct business for the peoples’ benefit. Logic dictates that corporations have only those rights granted them by statute. Statutes cannot create constitutional rights.

Corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution. So the framers did not think they should have constitutional rights (CRs.) The corporate constitutional rights (CCRs) doctrine created by SCOTUS is not supported by logic, history or law. SCOTUS has never explained why artificial entities like corporations should have the same constitutional rights as natural persons when corporations do not need CRs to do business and  have special advantages that individual persons do not have, e.g. perpetual life and limited liability.

This court-invented CCR doctrine has allowed corporations to abuse and harm the human beings they are supposed to serve. In addition to using their so-called free speech rights under the First Amendment to buy politicians, corporations have used other CCRs such as the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to undemocratically impose pollution, water contamination, environmental destruction, harm to workers and other assaults on unwilling local communities and individuals in derogation of local control, the police power, and democracy itself.

Corporations use their economic power to advance political positions that are unrelated to the interests of their customers and employees.  Purchasing a product does not express or imply approval of the political views of the corporation manufacturing the product.  So why should corporations be able to use their wealth to harm their customers and the public?

A series of Supreme Court decisions created the same political free speech rights for corporations under the First Amendment as originally belonged only to  natural persons. This allows corporations to spend  enormous amounts of corporate money to influence politics, policy and who gets elected to public office. This tsunami of unregulated, undisclosed money drowns  out the people’s voice which is neither heard nor heeded.

A Constitutional Amendment is needed to abolish all CCRs and the doctrine that political money spent in elections equals free speech. 

[Statement prepared by Move to Amend / movetoamend.org]

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