UPDATE August 1, 2018
The We the People Resolution (was named Resolution S.2243) was debated by the Senate on June 21, 2018. An amendment that removed the request for an Amendment Proposing Convention from the bill was passed on a 23-15 vote. The amended bill then was passed on a 37-1 vote. The bill was then sent to the House which took no action. Consequently the bill is dead for the current legislative session.
Despite strong opposition from the Senate leadership, fifteen senators stood firm in their support of Senator Eldridge’s original bill. All of them deserve a thank you for maintaining their strong support of the democratic process. Those fifteen senators were: James Eldridge, Mark Montigny, Michael Rush, John Keenan, Patrick O’Connor, Patricia Jehlen, Joan Lovely, Jason Lewis, Brendan Crighton, Julian Cyr, Paul Feeney, Adam Hinds, Barbara L’Italien, Walter Timilty, and Kathleen O’Connor Ives.
One positive observation is that the Senate did pass the amended bill that included both necessary planks of the amendment to the Constitution: 1) removing Constitutional rights from artificial entities, such as corporations, and 2) affirming that money spent in elections is not 1st Amendment protected free speech, to allow effective campaign finance laws to be enacted.
The Massachusetts legislature has twice in the past approved resolutions calling on Congress to propose an amendment related to the Supreme Court "Citizens United v FEC" but neither resolution specified these two key planks that must be in the amendment.
We the People Massachusetts is exploring what needs to be improved in order for successful passage of the bill when it is resubmitted in January 2019 for the next legislative session.
We the People Resolution
Resolutions for a United States Constitutional Amendment and Amendment Convention
2017-2018 Massachusetts Legislative Session
(sharable, printable link HERE)
WHEREAS, the 1st President of the United States George Washington stated, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government." and,
WHEREAS, it was the stated intention of the framers of the Constitution of the United States of America that the Congress of the United States of America should be "dependent on the people alone." (James Madison, Federalist 52); and,
WHEREAS, that dependency has evolved from a dependency on the people alone to a dependency on those who spend excessively in elections, through campaigns or third-party groups; and,
WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) removed restrictions on amounts of independent political spending; and,
WHEREAS, the removal of those restrictions has resulted in the unjust influence of powerful economic forces, which have supplanted the will of the people by undermining our ability to choose our political leadership, write our own laws, and determine the fate of our state; and
WHEREAS, corporations are artificial entities that governments create and, as such, do not possess the same unalienable rights of natural persons protected by the Constitution; and
WHEREAS, corporations have used a claim to the rights enumerated in the US Constitution, including under the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments, to challenge and overturn democratically enacted laws protecting the public interest; and
WHEREAS, Article V of the United States Constitution requires the United States Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments upon application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the several states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sees the need for a convention to propose amendments in order to address concerns about the integrity of our elections and about the ability of the people to participate in effective self-government, specifically those concerns arising from the United States Supreme Court’s rulings limiting the ability of the legislature to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections and granting constitutional rights to corporations; and desires that said convention should be so limited; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts desires that the delegates to said convention shall be comprised equally from individuals currently elected to state and local office, or be selected by election in each Congressional district for the purpose of serving as delegates, though all individuals elected or appointed to federal office, now or in the past, be prohibited from serving as delegates to the Convention, and intends to retain the ability to restrict or expand the power of its delegates within the limits expressed above; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts intends that this application shall constitute a continuing application, considered together with applications on this subject such as those passed in the 2013-2014 Vermont legislature as R454, the 2013-2014 California legislature as Resolution Chapter 77, the 98th Illinois General Assembly as SJR 42, the 2014-2015 New Jersey legislature as SCR 132, the 2015-2016 Rhode Island legislature as HR 7670 and SR 2589, and all other passed, pending, and future applications, the aforementioned concerns of Massachusetts notwithstanding until such time as two-thirds of the Several States have applied for a Convention and said Convention is convened by Congress;
Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED by the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that it calls on Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution that would affirm that
a) the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons, i.e. human individuals, only; and
b) Congress and the states shall place limits on political contributions and expenditures to ensure that all citizens have access to the political process, and the spending of money to influence elections is not protected free speech under the First Amendment; and
Be it further resolved, that if Congress does not propose this constitutional amendment within 6 months of the passage of this bill, then this bill constitutes a petition by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, speaking through its legislature, and pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution, to the Congress to call a limited Convention for the exclusive purpose of proposing Amendments, as prescribed previously herein, to the Constitution of the United States of America addressing, inter alia, concerns raised by Citizens United v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC and related decisions, as soon as two-thirds of the several States have applied for a Convention; and
Be it further resolved, that this petition shall not be considered by the U.S. Congress until 33 other states submit petitions for the same purpose as proposed by Massachusetts in this resolution and unless the Congress determines that the scope of amendments to the Constitution of the United States considered by the convention shall be limited to the same purpose requested by Massachusetts; and
Be it further Resolved, that the Clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Clerk of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States and addressed to him at the legislative office which he maintains in Suite No. S-212 of the United States Capitol Building, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, to each Senator and Representative from Massachusetts in the Congress of the United States, to the Governor of each State, and to the presiding officers of each legislative body of each of the several States, requesting the cooperation of the several States in issuing an application compelling Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution.
House Sponsor: Rep. Carmine Gentile
Senate Sponsor: Senator James Eldridge