States have become incubators for new policies which can then spread across the country. In areas as diverse as data security, medical privacy, and marijuana legalization states have been taking the lead. The grand political idea is that we can “try things out” on a more limited basis before we take the changes nationally.  There is a community group in Massachusetts, PassMassAmendment , which is actively engaged in an effort to “gather as many signatures as we can to progress an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, based on 'Corporations Are Not People, Money Is Not Speech' “

Here is the text of the 2015 PMA Petition Language –  pending approval:

PassMassAmendment’s  2015  Initiative Petition

relative to corporate rights and political spending, for  a constitutional amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of  Massachusetts

to declare that

Corporations are not people and may be regulated. The General Court may limit political spending and contributions.”

The Constitution of the Commonwealth is hereby amended by inserting at the end thereof the following Article of  Amendment:

Section  1 – Corporations  are not people and may be regulated. The rights afforded to the human  inhabitants of this Commonwealth, under this Constitution, are not applicable to any  corporation, corporate entity or artificial person. Any references to persons,  citizens, inhabitants, subjects, men, women, people, individuals or like terms  in this Constitution are not to be construed in any way to be referring to a  corporation, corporate entity or artificial person. All corporations, corporate  entities or artificial persons shall do business in Massachusetts under the  regulation of laws passed by the Massachusetts General Court, which shall set  the rights of such entities to do business to promote the common good and  strengthen the social compact of this  Commonwealth.

Section  2 – The  Massachusetts General Court may regulate and set reasonable limits on all  political contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all individuals,  regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and  that no individual gains more access or ability to influence in any way, the  election of any candidate for public office, or any ballot measure. The  Massachusetts General Court shall require that any and all permissible  contributions and expenditures, including late donations,  be publicly disclosed, in a timely  manner, for the purpose of informing the people, before any vote is  held.

Section  3 – Nothing  contained in this Amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the  press.

A few comments: This is a state-based effort to get Big Money out of politics. At this point, it has nothing to do with the Federal Constitution, only the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Constitution. There is a pointed question in their FAQ: “Given Citizens United, won’t the Supreme Court shoot down what you’re doing? ( ans) We can amend the Massachusetts Constitution and the Supreme Court would not get involved until a law was passed, someone sued, and it could then go to the Supreme Court. It would be the early 2020s before anything to do with our Amendment would make it to SCOTUS. By then, SCOTUS would not consist of the same Justices.” It could be very interesting to see how the “States' Rights” ploy using a state constitutional amendment plays out in the federal Supreme Court. Will they let the Commonwealth of Massachusetts govern the influence of money in its politics?


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