The movement to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling and confront the doctrine of corporate personhood stands at a perilous crossroads. Across the country, two distinct strategies are converging on Congress. More than a million people have signed online petitions. State legislators, city and township governments, Democratic Party groups and unions have sponsored and passed measures in 23 states demanding that Congress pass a constitutional amendment to reassert and elevate the political speech of ordinary citizens and roll back the growing political speech and legal privileges of corporations.
The two approaches can be seen in the protest signs and sound bites proclaiming, “Money is Not Speech” and “Overturn Corporate Personhood.” But these slogans are not calling for the same remedy, especially when transformed into legal language in 10 proposals that have been introduced in the current Congress.
The first would address campaign finance setbacks in a 35-year line of Supreme Court rulings, including the Citizens United ruling in 2010, which deregulated campaign spending by corporations and unions. The second would go further and seek to revoke the status of corporations as persons under the Constitution, rolling back more than a century of Supreme Court rulings under various amendments—not just those concerning political speech.