April 20, 2012
Nancy Pelosi’s tirade against the First Amendment coincides with an effort by Free Speech for People to push a “People’s Rights Amendment” it wants added to the Constitution. The amendment reads as follows:
Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.
As the Volokh Conspiracy blog notes, this proposed amendment might be used to shut down the political speech of people and organizations the government wants to silence. Eugene Volokh writes today that
…just as Congress could therefore ban the speech of nonmedia business corporations, it could ban publications by corporate-run newspapers and magazines — which I think includes nearly all such newspapers and magazines in the country (and for good reason, since organizing a major publications as a partnership or sole proprietorship would make it much harder for it to get investors and to operate). Nor does this proposal leave room for the possibility, in my view dubious, that the Free Press Clause would protect newspapers organized by corporations but not other corporations that want to use mass communications technology. Section 3 makes clear that the preservation of the “freedom of the press” applies only to “the people,” and section 2 expressly provides that corporations aren’t protected as “the people.”
Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the original sponsor of the amendment, confirmed this on Wednesday.
“My ‘People’s Rights Amendment’ is simple and straightforward,” he told the Congressional Summit on Overturning Citizens United. “It would make clear that all corporate entities — for-profit and non-profit alike — are not people with constitutional rights. It treats all corporations, including incorporated unions and non-profits, in the same way: as artificial creatures of the state that we the people govern, not the other way around.”
If you think this amendment will only be used to shut down large corporations during national elections, think again. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have waged a relentless battle against the First Amendment for years.
In 2008, Pelosi and senator Richard Durbin expressed a desire to limit the constitutional rights of broadcasters. Pelosi told John Gizzi of Human Events she supports the doctrine and the Democrats would deal with it after the election.
The following year, Democrat senator Debbie Stabenow said she would call for McCarthy-like hearings in Washington to have the government impose “balance” in talk radio.
Democrats were defeated in 2011, however, when the FCC formally voted to repeal the language that implemented the Fairness Doctrine from the Federal Register.
Earlier this year, Democrats, including Obama, went after talk show host Rush Limbaugh for insensitive comments he made about Sandra Fluke, who told congressional Democrats that contraception should be paid for in health plans. The Soros operation Media Matters spent $100,000 dollars on radio advertisements in an effort to get Limbaugh thrown off the air. A Daily Caller exposé posted in January revealed that Media Matters works closely with the White House.
Although several advertisers dropped his show and Limbaugh apologized for the comments, his radio show remains on the air. Limbaugh’s show is the most popular talk radio broadcast in the country with an estimated 15 million plus listeners per week.
Having failed to reanimate the Fairness Doctrine and motivate a boycott against Limbaugh, Democrats have set their sights on the Constitution.