'Citizen conventions' should respond to Citizens United, Harvard law professor suggests

, The National Law Journal


A Harvard Law School professor's idea on campaign finance reform took center stage at a Senate subcommittee hearing July 24, when he suggested holding "citizen conventions" to craft a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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What's being said

  • If it looks corrupt, it probably is corrupt

    An artificial person dates back to 17th century common law, wherein a business entity was first defined as a living being. However, in CU, it's not just saying that corporations have the same rights as individuals that is problematic: It's the anonymity these incorporated groups sometimes use to deliver their message. "Paid for by the Green Sunshine Committee" is wholly misleading when the television spot is nailing a candidate on his voting record on farming issues, when in fact, the underlying group is a consortium of chemical companies.
    There has to be transparency in these groups' names, even if it means giving up political anonymity... lest we start fashioning laughable amendments to the Constitution that will ultimately have to include language addressing the fact that corporations are NOT people. I don't know about you, but I don't want to see the U.S. Constitution become a perpetual joke.

  • Dissident

    If corporations are not human, how can the governemnt tax them? It can't tax a tree.

  • Legal fiction

    Corporations exist by virtue of legislative enactment. They speak only through agents and employees. The notions that corporations are human and their money is speech are rediculous. An amendment saying so would cut off the head of the snake.

  • Dissident

    The left has tried to spin the Citizens United decision as if it does not implicate the First Amendment and then used biased polling to demonstrate that it is widely unpopular. They ignore the facts of the case. Had it gone the other way, a documentary film about Hillary Clinton would not be produced and distributed. I never hear anyone defending that outcome. (I actually rented it from Netflix because I don't like government telling me what I can and can’t watch. Yes, it was biased but so what?) And why wouldn’t the same logic apply to a law limiting corporate and union funding for Lessig's proposed "citizen conventions"? At bottom, the dubious and offensive premise underlying opposition to Citizens United is that a candidate can win an election merely by spending more money. That does not say much for the intelligence of American voters. Even if it is true, I prefer unfettered freedom to promulgate speech to eliminating the perception that one can buy his way into office. Overturning Citizens United would leave wealthy politicians like Bloomberg with a huge advantage over challengers. I bet none of the folks at Lessig's conventions would admit to voting for someone because he spent more money. Now, if you want to have a citizen convention to adopt an amendment to reverse Kelo, which unleashes the power of government to take property on any pretext it wishes and really is opposed by a huge majority of Americans, both left and right, sign me up.

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