Hey, I understand. You folks on the left of the political spectrum think the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission ruling is absolutely appalling. You want that ruling reversed, real, real bad.

Hey, I understand. You folks on the left of the political spectrum think the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission ruling is absolutely appalling. You want that ruling reversed, real, real bad.


Really, like I said, I get it. There are several Supreme Court rulings that are legally specious and morally abominable (Engel, Abington, Griswold, Roe, Doe, Carhart, Lawrence, etc.), and I hope and pray they’re overturned someday, whether judicially or through constitutional amendment.


However, if they are ever overturned through the amendment process, I would hope the amendments will be worded carefully so that civil liberties protected long before Engel or Griswold aren’t cut away and hacked to pieces.


Frighteningly, it appears U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who identifies himself as a socialist, wants Citizens United reversed so badly that he is sponsoring an amendment that would do much, much more than reverse Citizens United — it would maim and mangle the U.S. Constitution.


Section 4 of his so-called “Saving American Democracy Amendment,” or SAD, gives broad powers to Congress and the states to control spending on political campaigns, but the rest of SAD is even more problematic. Let’s give SAD a good frisking.


“Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.”


This language means the long-established legal fiction known as “corporate personhood” would no longer apply to any for-profit business of any size or to any nonprofit organization that promotes a business interest (such as Chambers of Commerce). Practically speaking, this would deprive any and all businesses (whether legally incorporated or not) of the right to enter into and enforce legal contracts, which would plunge the economy into chaos.


It would also give state and federal governments the power to punish businesses without due process of law, to seize their property without compensation, to enter and search their premises without a warrant, and even to pass bills of attainder and ex post facto laws against them. Businesses and business-related nonprofits also would lose the protection of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.


It would be a tyrant’s dream and a nation’s nightmare.


“Section 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.”


At first glance, this language seems to protect the First Amendment rights of news media corporations, but even news media corporations would no longer have most constitutional protections they now enjoy. Furthermore, what SAD gives with one hand it takes with the other:


“Section 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.”


As UCLA constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh has observed, “Since to write or print or broadcast anything, newspapers, networks and broadcasters must spend money, this would ban — not just authorize Congress to ban, but itself ban — editorials supporting or opposing a candidate or a ballot measure.” So much for freedom of the press.


SAD makes for some pretty depressing reading, but we can be comforted that it’s an empty political gesture, because this monstrosity has no chance of going anywhere. All the same, we should be troubled that nine members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors.


That’s nine too many — nine whom the voters in their states should send packing at their earliest opportunity. They were elected to uphold the Constitution, not feed it through a wood-chipper.


Community editor Jared Olar may be reached at jolar@pekintimes.com.