A Proposal to Amend the United States Constitution




By Bill Haff 

The amendment to the Constitution proposed here is a call to action, an effort to reduce the undue influence that commercial interests have in the American system of self-governance. In the early years of the Republic the states limited the power of commercial interests, because of the experience the colonies had with entities like the East India Company, a transnational corporation that functioned as a de facto (but unaccountable) branch of the Royal government. Today we face a similar threat as large transnational corporations use pervasive government connections to dictate public policy. This combination of state power and private wealth is increasingly difficult to challenge.

The key to modern corporate power lies in their status as “persons” under the Bill of Rights, and the 1976 Supreme Court determination that spending money in elections is “free speech.” It’s understandable that many will have concerns or suggestions regarding the specific language of this proposed amendment, one that attempts to address both key issues. Comments are welcome. (important note: the “Artificial Entities” mentioned in Section 1 includes labor unions)


Proposed “We The People” 28th Amendment to the Constitution
House Joint Resolution 48 introduced April 29, 2015

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]
Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

Prior op-ed by Bill Haff: “The Case for a Constitutional Amendment to End “Corporate Personhood”


Bill Haff is chairperson for the Ojai chapter of Move To Amend, resides in Ojai

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