Sen. Christopher Dodd has proposed an Amendment to the U.S Constitution (lots of that going around apparently) in response to the recent U.S Supreme Court decision effectively allowing corporations to spend freely in support of political candidates. The ruling sparked fears that large corporations, which some believe already have too much influence on politicians in the form of lobbying groups pushing their agendas, will be able to, for example, buy up TV time for commercials during campaigns. Specifically, the Court ruled that Congress cannot regulate independent expenditures by corporations and groups like labor unions. The Court reasoned that corporations deserve the same free speech protections as individual Americans, and that spending money is speech.
Arguing whether corporations are “persons” under the law could be an esoteric exercise–but let’s just say in the law say sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not. But my view is that when it comes to rights under the Constitution really they aren’t, and weren’t intended to have the same protections as real people, as corporations were created and given rights by government.
The constitutional amendment would explicitly authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures, and allow states to regulate such spending at their level. It would also provide for implementation and enforcement of the amendment through legislation.
To pass, Dodd’s amendment must pass both Houses with a two-thirds majority and be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
See the text of the proposal here.