Vermont state senator Virginia Lyons introduced a resolution in the state legislature urging the United States Congress to amend the Constitution and ban corporate personhood. Vermont is the first state to successfully introduce at the legislative level a statement of beliefs that corporations are not persons and do not have constitutional rights.
If passed, JRS 11 would be the first formal declaration by citizens for Congress to act. But that’s it. It has no real force of law nor does it change anything in the short-term.
The entire joint resolution lays out the framework of the opposition: corporations are not people, cannot vote, and often have motives contrary to the best interests of actual people. They should therefore not be afforded legal standing to benefit from the rights of natural persons. It’s a compelling and simple argument, and one that if it were to gain momentum, could put a good majority of today’s Congress in an uncomfortable position.
But amending the Constitution is not a simple task, and this current Congress can’t even pass a budget. So for short-term strategies to deal with the fall-out of Citizens United we have to keep looking to disclosure and transparency laws.
Vermont’s history of progressivism makes it a natural leader in the push back against corporate overreach, and Senator Lyons should be commended for her leadership on JRS 11. The next question is, can it catch on?
Photo from Tracy_O via flickr.