Constitutional Rights for corporations, yes… and they can still be not equal to people.

Granting rights to corporations is what gives us freedom of the press and many of the positive rights enjoyed by unions and non-profit organizations that we support. I’m not saying I agree with the Court’s rulings in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby: I’m just saying that a blanket statement of “corporations don’t have rights like people have rights” and any movement to amend the Constitution to remove those rights has a very hard job ahead of itself to carve out the consequences we don’t like about granting rights to corporations (which are, at the end of the day, just groups of individuals) from the consequences we do like.

There’s a reason the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government and to free speech are in the same Amendment. The combination of those three is what gives us the ACLU, for example. Whenever you move to amend, don’t just think about what your proposed amendment will do to Hobby Lobby: think about what it will do to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU, to the AFL-CIO, to the press, and to for-profit companies that use their money for speech that you support, not just that which you oppose.

Let’s just say I’m not opposed to a “move to amend”, but when organizations that promote the amendment say things like “money is not speech!”, they aren’t clearly contemplating the consequences of that statement. Any movement that restricts a person’s OR GROUP OF PERSONS’ right to political speech and expression of political opinion will find it close to impossible to do without screwing up the very freedom to conduct robust, fiery and heated debate about the political climate which led to the creation of the United States in the first place. It took money to publish the Federalist Papers.

When a site like “Move to Amend” proposes an amendment that strips all Constitutional rights from any and all “artificial entities established by law”, I think of freedom of the press and shudder.

There’s probably a way to achieve these goals through an amendment process, but I have yet to see proposed a good way to do it that doesn’t undermine principles of expression, self-determination and self-government cherished by both the left and the right.


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