TOPEKA – Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, and Ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee Tom Holland, of Baldwin City, announced today that they plan to introduce a resolution formally urging Congress to end corporate personhood.
In January 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have the same first amendment rights as naturally born persons, and that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. This has led to the development of “Super PACs”, and yielded unprecedented influence in political campaigns, as evidenced by the 2012 Presidential Primary.
"Corporations don’t live and breathe or go to war or rebuild after tornadoes,” said Hensley. “They are simply not people and do not deserve the same rights as people."
The resolution urges Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood by establishing that the term ‘person’ refers only to naturally born persons. Sixteen state legislatures have introduced resolutions/legislation of this nature.
“Citizens United is wrong because it confuses people with corporations and speech with money,” said Holland. “Speech is an expression of the people, while money is an expression of corporations. It is speech and people that the First Amendment is concerned with, not money and corporations. Amending the U.S. Constitution is the only way to begin returning our inalienable rights to those they were intended to protect – we the people.”
This resolution is particularly timely as the Kansas Legislature embarks on a major tax reform debate. Both the Brownback and House Republican tax plans will ultimately lead to the elimination of taxation on certain business entities. Additionally, both Gov. Brownback and Speaker O’Neal have indicated that they want to eventually eliminate the corporate income tax in future years. The Brownback Agenda, combined with Citizens United, will give corporations more power over public policy in Kansas than ever before.
“Governor Brownback wants to cut taxes for those at the top at the expense of schools and the middle class,” said Davis. “We have already witnessed the impact of corporate giveaways on the lives of ordinary working Kansans throughout this recession. If corporations have free reign to influence elections, it will just be another nail in the coffin for middle class Kansans who work hard and play by the rules. This is the time to stand up and say that enough is enough.”