Liberals against civil liberties

A group of Democrats led by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and including Nancy Pelosi want to amend the Bill of Rights as a reaction against the Citizens United decision.

Their proposed “People’s Rights Amendment” would strip constitutional protections from any group that is organized as a corporation. As Eugene Volokh explains, that includes most churches, newspapers, and nonprofits, so the proposed amendment would eviscerate the freedoms of religion, speech, and the press.

These liberals’ basic problem here is a deep misunderstanding of the logic of Citizens United: Contrary to common misunderstanding, the landmark decision did not rule that corporations constitute persons. On the contrary, it ruled that corporations are made up of people. They are groups of people who have chosen to organize their activities using a certain provision of law.

Corporations have no speech rights of their own, but they people who make up the corporation have free speech rights, and those rights are not attenuated merely because they have chosen to organize their activities in a particular way. Thus, any effort to eliminate the rights of corporations really only eliminates the rights of individuals.

The world that these Democrats claim to want is a world in which individuals have rights, but they cannot band together to exercise those rights. Each man exercising his rights must stand alone.

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