Who is Wisconsin United To Amend?
Wisconsin United to Amend is a grassroots, cross-partisan citizens group. We are a part of the growing democracy reform movement, which seeks to combat the dominance of moneyed special interests and restore the authority of “We The People”. This is THE core issue of our time. It unites all Americans across the political spectrum. Numerous polls show that government corruption and money in politics is a top issue in America.
What are we trying to do?
Problem: How can politicians represent us, when they’re given millions to represent someone else? Solution: In order to restore our representative democracy, we must amend the Constitution to clarify that money is not the same as free speech and that only real people should have inalienable rights. For more information, please read our action plan.
How did this get to be such a problem?
The Supreme Court has been slowly yielding to corporate pressure for over 130 years. In 1886, a loophole in the 14th amendment was exploited, which resulted in the legal fiction that corporations had human rights. In 1976, they ruled that money is equivalent to free speech. In the 2010 case, Citizens United, the Supreme Court struck down the McCain/Feingold law, which has resulted in unlimited campaign spending. These are three cases, but there are many more. For more information, please see the Timeline of Personhood Rights and Powers.
What do we have against corporations?
Nothing. Corporations are an essential part of our economy. But large corporations and wealthy individuals command resources vastly exceeding that of ordinary citizens. Therefore, unregulated political contributions and spending becomes grossly unbalanced. The voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out, their interests sacrificed, their representation lost.
What is corporate personhood, and why are we so focused on it?
Under current law, corporations have human “rights” like free speech and privacy. This has wide-ranging implications – for example, the right to free speech means that corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. The right to privacy means that regulators are not allowed to make surprise inspections on factories. Now some corporations are claiming they have religious beliefs. Of course, the people who work for, run, and own corporations are entitled to the rights of free speech and privacy – but a corporation is not a person, it is a legal invention for making money, and the most egregious abuses of corporate power are made possible by the idea that they have human rights. For an analysis of specific corporate constitutional rights, please see this document by POCLAD.
What about unions?
Unions are a kind of a corporation and as such, their political contributions were deregulated by Citizens United, just like those of businesses, and their political contributions will be subject to regulation again after an amendment overturning Citizens United is adopted.
What about lobbying?
Lobbying is free speech protected by the First Amendment. It can serve a useful educational function in our democracy. It’s perfectly fine for lobbyists to meet with politicians, but there shouldn’t be any money exchanging hands nor any favors. The Supreme Court has twisted our Constitution to favor financial elites. The Framers of our Constitution considered political corruption a key threat and we need to restore their original intentions.
How would abolishing corporate personhood change things?
Corporations are creations of the state. They can’t exist in any form without the legal sanctioning of government. Since citizens are the source of all legitimate power in any representative democracy, We the People have the power to define corporations any way we see fit. We the People have rights and authority. Originally, corporations only possessed privileges bestowed by the state. Once an amendment is passed, corporations will still possess their privileges, since all that case law still exists. Everything will continue as usual, except Congress will be able to once again regulate campaign spending.
What has been the effect of the Citizens United ruling?
The amount of political spending has skyrocketed. In the 2012 presidential election, both candidates raised and spent approximately $1 billion dollars. This is not a partisan issue. Thirty-two billionaires matched the amount contributed by 3.7 million small donors to Romney and Obama. $10 billion overall was spent on 2012 campaigns in the United States. We all see the flood of negative ads, mysterious donors, and the current system of pay-to-play politics. All this leads to corrupt politics, cronyism and the loss of citizen voice. This is a disaster for our representative republic.
Why do we need a constitutional amendment?
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution grants legal protections to corporations, including the protections of the Bill of Rights. This could be overturned by the Supreme Court, but this is unlikely to happen for many years since the justices are appointed for life. Also, even if one Supreme Court overturns corporate personhood, another could reinstate it in the future. As for writing laws to fix this, any legislation passed by Congress challenging the doctrine of corporate personhood will be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and ruled invalid. Therefore, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is needed.
How can we amend the US Constitution?
There are two routes for an amendment to be proposed. One is by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress, and the other is through an Article V convention (which can be called by two-thirds of state legislatures). Either way, the proposed amendment must be approved by three-fourths of the states.
Won’t it be nearly impossible to amend the Constitution?
Well, it’s been done 27 times before, and we desperately need to fix our broken government. And since the politicians are getting their money from billionaires and corporations instead of their constituents, there’s not much chance that Washington will fix itself. So this must be a grass roots movement. Once enough towns, cities, counties and states pass resolutions and ballot initiatives, Congress will be forced to do what is right. This process will take years, but our reform movement continues to gain strength. We just need everyone to stand up and say no to this corrupt system of legalized bribery.
What language do you propose for the amendment?
Section 1 [Corporations are not people and can be regulated]
The rights and privileges protected and extended by the Constitution of the United States are the rights and privileges of natural persons only. An artificial entity, such as a corporation, limited liability company, or other entity, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under the Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of an artificial entity 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 speech and can be regulated]
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 that person’s 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 governments 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.
Section 3 [Freedom of the press]
This amendment shall not be construed to abridge the right secured by the Constitution of the United States of the freedom of the press.
What can I do to help?
Building a democracy reform movement is no small task. It requires millions of informed supporters and thousands of active volunteers. It will not happen by itself. We need everyone to get involved. Please join us!
WIUTA is an open and transparent organization. To see our organizational documents, please click on the links below: