By Wendy Welsh
Article 15 is being presented as an attempt to address the corrupting influence of corporate money on our political system. While that corrupting influence is a very real problem, Article 15 will not solve that problem and will have unintended consequences which threaten the constitutional rights of all Americans.
The proposed amendment does 2 things:
- It takes away some of your rights to free speech under the First Amendment, and
- It gives Congress the power to destroy any organization or corporation.
1) Let’s start with Section 2 of the amendment: “election spending is not free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Notice that it says nothing about corporations or about candidate spending. This is about everyone’s speech, yours and mine. Congress would have the power to prohibit anyone from spending money to communicate. It costs money to set up websites or print out flyers, rent a venue or buy an ad. A “yes” vote on Article 15 supports giving Congress the power to limit citizens’ engagement in elections.
2) Section 1: “Only human beings, not artificial entities such as corporations, are entitled to the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.”
When we think of corporations, we think of Amazon, Wal-Mart and other businesses with political influence. However, corporations also include:
- Roudenbush Community Center – Westford CAT
- Parish Center for the Arts – Kimballs
Corporate constitutional protection includes the 4th Amendment, which limits Congress from “unreasonably search[ing] and seiz[ing]” any corporation’s funds, computers, or property. Without this protection, Congress could take Roudenbush’s iconic building.
Congress does not have a good track record. Congress already has the power to require complete transparency in election funding, but they haven’t done it. Princeton did a study showing that Congress passes laws that benefit the wealthy not the working class:
Professors Gilens and Page compared public opinion surveys and policies that ended up becoming law. The opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a “statistically non-significant impact.” Economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.
Once Congress has more power, why would we expect them to pass laws that are good for us? Since Congress does what the 1% want and not the 90%, who would be silenced if this amendment passed? Which organizations would be destroyed?
Please vote NO on Article 15.
Wendy Welsh is a Westford resident.