A Petition to Support the Saving American Democracy Amendment
SenatorSandersBernie Sanders: If you believe that corporations are subject to regulation by the people, sign here: http://t.co/DJIXFUqt
READ THE ACTUAL 3-PAGE DRAFT HERE.
I’m sorry, but I cannot sign the petition. While this is the best of such anti-Citizens United proposals I’ve seen, I still have reservations about it:
A) I cannot agree with Section 1 of the proposal. I believe it goes too far. The better approach is to simply declare what was formerly the law – corporations (being creations of the government) can be regulated by the government, and can only have such powers as the government allows. This would enable the States (whose laws usually are what create corporations and allow them to “do business”) to place restrictions on corporate political activity through simple legislation. While I agree corporations should not have constitutional rights in themselves, we must not forget that corporations are composed of people, and people do have such rights. The mere fact one chooses to do business as a corporation, rather than a sole proprietorship, should not require sacrifice of said rights. This part of the Amendment, it seems to me, takes a “blunderbuss” approach to a problem which actually requires a scalpel.
B) I like the language of Section 2 of the proposal. It adopts the approach I prefer over Section 1. However, I will note that since it would apply to “other private entitites” as well, it arguably could allow the elimination of the free speech rights of unions and not-for-profit corporations (or “other entities”)! Again, this points out what a tricky thing legal draftsmanship is; the “law of unintended consequences” is always lurking and ready to pounce! (Personally, I’d prefer eliminating the “money = speech” doctrine of Buckley v. Valeo, which is actually the root of the whole problem!)
C) Section 3 has many of the same problems I cite for the other two sections.
D) Section 4 has similar problems, and the additional problem of what’s been omitted. The entire Amendment is designed to deal not only with the “corporations = people” issue, but with campaign finance in general. I think those two subjects should be in separate Amendments (if only because I doubt any Amendment with both has a prayer of being passed). More importantly, if we are going to overhaul our entire electoral system there are provisions that should be included, among them: calling for free air time for debates and limited campaign ads by candidates; allowing for public financing of campaigns; mandating elections be held over the weekend (Friday through Sunday) to increase voter turnout (this, of course, would only be for physical voting, vote by mail usually taking place over several weeks); mandating that voting machines must provide a “paper trail”; limiting the campaign season itself (I suggest one month before each primary or caucus within a State, and two months for national elections), no ads or other campaign activity can take place before such time periods; providing that the “Do Not Call” list shall include political campaigns, political organizations, and polling as barred (heck, I’d like to include non-for-profit requests for donations as well).
E) Finally, where these proposals mandate something, it might be better (in the name of flexibility) to word them as merely giving Congress the power to regulate in that way for national elections (leaving discretion in that body), and authorizing the States to do the same in their internal elections.
Again, good legal draftsmanship takes time. It’s one reason I’m very skeptical about “populist” attempts to change the Constitution.