Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.
Very few people will deny that special interests such as corporations and associations, whether they be for profit or non-profit, exert enormous influence over our elections through PACs and other activities. It has proven almost impossible to control this because most attempts to do so run afoul of the First Amendment and the legal fiction that such organizations are “persons.”
It will take an amendment to the Constitution to remove the conflict.
There is already one such proposal that is aimed at removing money from politics by prohibiting both direct and indirect contributions by any person to a federal race. I see several problems with this approach, not least of which is that it tramples over and removes existing First Amendment rights of natural persons.
I propose a different solution. Let us enact an amendment that states that only natural persons are deemed to be a person for purposes of the Constitution and all other entities are subject to definition as established by legislative law.
I think that this approach is better because it respects and strengthens the spirit of the Constitution by preserving the rights of real people while removing such rights from legal constructs. It restores the legal fiction of “corporate personhood” to its rightful place as being just that, a legal fiction that was meant to be used primarily to settle jurisdictional matters. Decisions such as Citizens United and other absurdities would be impossible with such an amendment in place.
It should also be recognized that such an amendment would allow states to pass regulations individually, whether in the state houses or by ballot measures brought by the voters. Even if Congress were not to act in a timely fashion, the states could do so on their own.
The end result is that political power would be restored to those who are actually capable of voting, and power would be taken away from those entities that can only manipulate the vote.