PostHeaderIcon The People’s Rights Amendment

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Congressman McGovern Introduces the People’s Rights Amendment


‘Corporations Are Not People’

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts introduced today a constitutional amendment bill to overturn the US Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and to make clear that corporations are not people with rights under the US Constitution. The introduction of the bill – the “People’s Rights Amendment” — marks a major breakthrough in the growing movement across the country to end corporate personhood and restore democracy to the people. 

“Corporations are not people,” said Congressman McGovern. “They do not breathe. They do not have children. They do not die in war. They are artificial entities which we the people create and, as such, we govern them, not the other way around.”

“The Citizens United ruling,” McGovern continued, “marks the most extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine which has eroded our First Amendment and our Constitution. Now is the time for a 28th Amendment that lifts up the promise of American self-government: of, for, and by the people.”

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC swept away a century of precedent barring corporate political expenditures and unleashed a torrent of corporate spending in US elections. The ruling applied the doctrine of corporate constitutional rights, a doctrine which corporations have used in recent years to strike down various federal and state laws designed to protect the public interest. 

“We are proud to stand with Congressman McGovern at this historic moment,” said John Bonifaz, the co-founder and director of Free Speech For People, a national non-partisan campaign launched on the day of the Citizens United ruling which authored the People’s Rights Amendment and has been mobilizing support throughout the nation for its enactment. “For the first time, the United States Congress now has the opportunity to debate a constitutional amendment bill that raises the fundamental question of whether people or corporations shall govern in America.”

“The nation is ready for this debate,” Bonifaz added, citing public opinion research that Free Speech For People commissioned showing widespread support across the political spectrum for a constitutional amendment like the one Congressman McGovern has introduced. “Americans understand that our democracy is at stake and that we must fight to preserve it. We see Congressman McGovern’s proposed amendment as another important strike on behalf of the 99 percent.”

On the face of this, it appears an attempt to limit corporate speech. The reality is that it would also limit free speech by other organizations, including (but not limited to): the TEA Party and the NRA.

It should come as no surprise that the primary co-sponsor of this abomination is Princess Pelosi.

What is not clear is how they would exempt such corporate entities as Labor Unions, the duopoly political parties, etc. But, you can bet that they will.

While I do not expect such an abomination to be accepted by ¾ of the States, the very fact that it would be offered, and that it will probably pass in the Senate, should be enough to drive people into the streets in protest.

On second thought, might that be exactly what they are after? An excuse, any excuse, to declare martial law before a new president can be inaugurated?

Perhaps Lt. Colonel Brian can weigh in with an opinion as to how the upper command of our military are likely to respond to such a declaration.

Folks, the situation is beyond serious. They openly use the international Marxist slogan “FORWARD” as their campaign theme, the president essentially rules by decree, they ignore the Congress and the Courts, they try to use the UN to make an end-run around the 2nd amendment, and now this. They no longer attempt to hide who and what they are. And still, we keep our collective heads in the sand.

I am not Chicken Little, instead, I am a just a frustrated Analyst. The sky may well not be falling but the noose is definitely tightening around our necks.

Think about it. Then tell your friends and neighbors to think about it. Our time is running out.

Troy L Robinson

18 Responses to “The People’s Rights Amendment”

  • Perhaps Lt. Colonel Brian can weigh in with an opinion as to how the upper command of our military are likely to respond to such a declaration.

    I would be very interested in his take on this critical question. Please. â—„Daveâ–º

    • Dave,
      I just read your question here, and a response has been something I have been contemplating since you asked the same question when visiting my “The Colonels Column” blog. The answer is complex one because of the hypothetical “what ifs” and the “it depends” involved in my analysis. Maybe, rather than the long “essay length” response that I have been ruminating over I will attempt to break it up into some pithier points.

      Be patient with my on-again, off-again visitation and posting. While “military retired”, I’m not really… just a transition…now a full timer in civilian attire. Plus I could bore you with a “holy crap” list of “home front” and “hobby” commitments that eat up my time.

      But, this is a good site with good folks, and these are discussions much needed at this critical time in our history. To be continued…


      • Thanks, Brian. While you are pondering hypotheticals, read this! They are already preparing to deal with those TEA Party terrorists. More than ever now, I want a divorce from these bastards… the sooner the better… enough is enough… â—„Daveâ–º

        • Dave,
          While this may appear to be an “officially sanctioned” military journal, it is not. That is not to say that military folks and national security strategy/policy analyst types don’t publish there. I’m not familiar with this publication, the organization and Board of Directors. If the article had appeared via one of the U.S. War Colleges, or say, the Armed Force Journal I would be more concerned.

          That said, the article IS troubling. However, the authors’ poorly concocted hypothetical scenario is THIER warped “academic think tank” and biased opinion… not representative of majority “rank and file” within DoD from my view. So many flawed assumptions made I could spend weeks writing rebuttals point-by-point. Many commenters did a good job. I’ve shared this article with my DoD “inner circle”, they will likewise view the assigning of the Tea Party as “hostiles” as ignorant and even offensive.

          Do not be so quick to assume that “THEY” represent a prevailing sentiment in the DoD… I do lament that there is more “progressive” thought now within DoD than any time in the past. More on that to follow…


          • Thanks for the encouragement on the rank and file; but Benson is reportedly a protege of Wesley Clark and teaches at Leavenworth. What does that tell you? The boys on Sipsey Street have done the research. It is worth the read.

            I have been concerned with the question of whether our military would follow unconstitutional orders to disarm us, since the days of Ruby Ridge and Waco, in the early ’90s. I can’t recall the specifics, but a mid-level officer did an academic survey of enlisted men on a base in San Diego, asking among other things in a questionnaire, if they would follow orders to disarm Americans. As I recall, more than 3/4 said they would have to follow orders. When one combines the lack of American history and authoritarian indoctrination kids get in public schools, with the discipline instilled in military training, this is actually unsurprising, however disturbing it may be. My own informal survey over the years, of asking the same question of young civilian law enforcement officers, is even more disturbing. Unfortunately, the authoritarian mindset is pervasive among those attracted to police work. That is one reason I penned my Gun Collecting essay. â—„Daveâ–º

        • As indicated at the end of my last post… IMO a growing number of “progressive” leaning individuals were promoted to military General Officer and civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) ranks in DoD since the 1990’s. Interesting you mention Gen. Wesley Clark, because I consider him among them. From my active duty Air Force stint, former chief of staff Gen Merrill McPeak (a Howard Dean and Barack Obama supporter) tops the list. He is looked upon to-this-day by many with disdain for his ill-conceived “fundamental transformation” of the AF in the early ‘90s. Those two retired officers in particular and others of their type do continue to have some admiring protégés on active duty and in positions of influence. (Recently retired Marine Gen James Cartwright’s support of “Global Zero” is my latest heartburn) But both also spawned a multitude of critics’ intent on reversing their harmful legacy. As for Benson, he “jumped the shark” in that article and harmed his credibility… the largely critical comment responses are telling and representative of the feedback I’m getting.

          But to the original point of your question…

          I do regretfully concur with your assessment on the growing ignorance of our nation’s founding and Constitution, and the role of government even among members of the military. It is emblematic of the widespread decline of traditional civics study in the public education system at large. However, military personnel are still more conservative and “patriotic” than the general population. Gun ownership is prevalent as well with many being gun collectors themselves.

          “Would the military follow unconstitutional orders to disarm Americans?” This question requires context. I cannot absolutely rule it out in all circumstances, but IMO it is not likely, especially on any grand scale. The key word is “unconstitutional”. There is still an abundant understanding of the meaning of the 2nd Amendment despite the efforts of “gun control” advocates. I just spent several days with members of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard. I can’t imagine those boys willfully surrendering their personal arms.

          In the questionnaire example, “if they would follow orders to disarm Americans”, I note the absence of the word unconstitutional. Without context, I could certainly see respondents assuming conditions of lawlessness and violence implied. I dislike poorly written and “open ended” survey questions like that… and is why I rarely respond to surveys.

          Could our military members fire on and kill fellow American’s if ordered in EXTRAORDINARY circumstances… possible, been done before. But IMO unlikely. Our soldiers are not immoral, mindless, blind order following automatons. Context, personal and public sentiment IS relevant. The speed of modern communications is significantly different from conditions in the past. It would have to be in response to lawlessness and armed violence harming fellow citizens beyond law enforcement and State National Guard capabilities.

          A Federal Government move to subdue by force a PEACEFUL revolt (many scenarios possible) by a sizeable united population of citizens in solidarity with Constitutional principles would certainly splinter allegiances amongst military leadership and members. A national declaration of martial law WOULD send shockwaves. Rational governance would have to concede to a redress of grievances… or things go horribly bad.


    • Greg says:

      I gotta ask the obvious question here: Can you cite the bill itself?

  • Daedalus says:

    Corporations are the property of their stockholders. If the law thinks coorporations are “persons” the law is an ass. Now the stocholders have the right to appoint a board to manage the property, but all rights resolve to and come from the owners.

    • The legal fiction of person-hood for corporations is a feature of Admiralty Law, John. If one thinks about it, it is a necessary one. Look at the liability side of the equation. If one could not sue the corporation for a misdeed, one would have to sue all the stockholders jointly and severally, which would make it extremely risky to invest in a corporation. This would stifle capitalism.

      Similarly, how could it enter binding long-term contracts, if the managers who signed them were no longer there, and perhaps even the owners had completely changed. The legal fiction is probably the best, if not only, way to resolve such issues. â—„Daveâ–º

    • Troy says:

      I have little interest in the person hood of a corporation. The thing that worries me about the proposed amendment is that, while it is ostensibly targeted at corporate “speech” in elections, it can actually be made to apply to any organization, including the TEA Party, which I believe to be its major target, along with the NRA.


    • At the moment I see the People’s Rights Amendment as a turd marketed with attractive prose.

      The idea that freedom of speech is only for an individual but can be limited or silenced if exercised jointly is IMO wrong. I don’t care what the group size, scope, nature of the association, etc… as long as the individual possesses “free will” to enter or part from the group.

      The rub for me is when an individual is compelled by necessity or threat to associate with a group that voices what they oppose.

      I see legitimate concern regarding “joint” speech and influence on our governance/elections from entities with external (foreign) interests such as multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, etc… where non-citizens are in the mix. However, I always come back to the “free will” of individual citizen voters to be influenced or not, no matter the source. Liberty is not easy.


      • Greg says:

        What stops me and citizen x over there from donating $50 million to the Romney campaign and coordinating it? I think that that’s what they are trying allow IMHO, just stripping away the corporation’s right as a entity to donate to a campaign that may or may not agree with some/all/none of the employees. It is not right for me to be an Obama supporter (As I am because I do not like Romney that much–as of yet… *pleads with Dave* Don’t scold me 😛 ) but to have a company who I am/will work/ing for overshadow that $10 donation with $100 million. That is what I think is the intent of the bill. (Whether or not it actually works that was in actuality is a different story 😉 )

  • Daedalus says:

    Dave, I know how the law treats a corporation. I don’t see any need to refer to it as a person, it is just a “legal entity.” Any rights the corporation exercises derive from either the board of directors or the owners. Isn’t it something akin to a mini-government? As I understand it “rights” are due to the nature of individuals and are not given to us by governments or corporations. We allow the governments or corporations to act in certain manners delegated to them by constitutions for the federal and state governments or a body of law in the case of corporations. but back to the bill under consideration. It does not appear to be a good bill since it appears to violate the rights of both owners and directors of corporations. If those persons do not like the actions of their corporations they can certainly withdraw their support or, in some cases, boycott the product.

  • Greg says:

    “Corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State”– the TEA Party, as much as I loathe it from time to time, does not seem to fit this criteria.

    To pose a professorial question: The TEA party is not a corporation, nor a LLC (to the best of my knowledge), nor a corporate entity. They are, instead, people-powered organizations driven by the politics of what seems to be right (meaning correct, just, not conservative 😉 ) vs. making a profit. That is what members of Tea Party would say that they are were they to defend their organization in court.

    Further, in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that money = speech. If, in the third article, paraphrasing “The rights of the citizens to free speech shall not be abridged…” what stops the Tea Party from contributing money?

    Further, if you can answer those two questions, you’ll note that they are prohibiting the IDENTITY of a corporation (IE, Apple donates $25M to the Obama campaign–in theory), but not actually the person. If Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) wanted to donate $25M to campaigns, he would argue that the bill allows him to do this because he is doing it as a citizen.

    ^ What I’m trying to do here is: take up the other side of the argument. Can you see how the lawmakers may (or may not) agree with those positions above? Further, if these challenges WERE present to court and you were the US government, are those arguments defensible? If so, how?

    Also, thanks for the link, Troy! 😀

    • Troy says:

      Home from the Alaska cruise. It was great fun and, as usual, the Reason team were great company, both in the formal presentations and the informal get-togethers at dinner and at the bar. You folks should seriously consider next years cruise. Where else can you find that many brilliant Libertarians in a totally fun atmosphere?

      Regarding campaign contributions…

      I recently blogged that, given my druthers, campaign contributions should be limited to individuals, with real names, who are illegible to vote for the person to whom the contribution is directed. But with no $$ limits.

      I dislike PACs and, even more, I dislike anonymous contributions. That said, I dislike new constitutional amendments and all acts of Congress even more.

      Back to the cruise. One of the guest speakers was Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States. Not only is the book an excellent read, Thad himself is a hoot. If you haven’t read the book, you are missing a fascinating look at our history from a different (more realistic?) angle.


  • Daedalus says:

    Greg the owners of some corporations have amassed/created a considerable amount of wealth. They have every right to defend that wealth against expropriation. On the other hand they may behave immorally and use their wealth to curry special favors from the government, subsidies, exemptions from taxes and such. Since there are many wealthy corporations there will always be wealthy donors on both sides of the fence, counterbalancing each other to some extent. As for the $10 guy, he has one vote, the corporation has none. What I look for is transparency, which O’Bama promised and totally reneged on. I don’t think there is anything wrong with large agricultural combine advocating subsidies for itself as long as it is done openly. (That isn’t to say I approve of such subsidies.) If it is done secretly then I see a conspiracy to defraud and their should be legal remedy.

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