Somin Comments Cited in Washington Post

Professor Ilya Somin's comments regarding a proposed constitutional amendment calling for the Constitution to protect only the rights of "natural persons" were cited in a column written by The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will.

Will's column addresses Rep. Jim McGovern's "People's Rights Amendment," which would protect only the rights of "natural persons," not such persons organized in corporations, and would allow Congress to impose on corporations whatever  restrictions it deems "reasonable." The proposed amendment is designed to reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision affirming the right of persons to associate in corporate entities for the purpose of unrestricted collective speech independent of candidates' campaigns.

Will says, "Ilya Somin of George Mason University Law School, writing for the Volokh Conspiracy blog, notes that government, unleashed by McGovern's amendment, could regulate religious practices at most houses of worship, conduct whatever searches it wants, reasonable or not, of corporate entities, and seize corporate-owned property for whatever it deems public uses—without paying compensation. Yes, McGovern's scythe would mow down the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the First." 

Taking a scythe to the Bill of Rights, The Washington Post, May 4, 2012. By George F. Will.


"His amendment says that it shall not be construed 'to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.' But the amendment is explicitly designed to deny such rights to natural persons who, exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of association, come together in corporate entities to speak in concert.

"McGovern stresses that his amendment decrees that 'all corporate entities — for-profit and nonprofit alike' — have no constitutional rights. So Congress — and state legislatures and local governments — could regulate to the point of proscription political speech, or any other speech, by the Sierra Club, the National Rifle Association, NARAL Pro-Choice America or any of the other tens of thousands of nonprofit corporate advocacy groups, including political parties and campaign committees." 

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