GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
HOUSE BILL 453*
Short Title: "We the People" Act/Referendum.
Representatives Insko, Gill, W. Richardson, and Quick (Primary Sponsors).
For a complete list of sponsors, refer to the North Carolina General Assembly web site.
Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House
March 27, 2017
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT to submit to the voters of north carolina a referendum urging congress to pass an amendment to the constitution of the united states declaring that constitutional rights belong only to individuals and not to corporations or other artificial entities and that constitutionally protected free speech excludes the unlimited spending of money on political campaign contributions.
Whereas, Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution of North Carolina asserts that "[a]ll political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole"; and
Whereas, free and fair elections, as well as honest representation, are essential to self‑determination and self‑governance as described in the Declaration of Independence and established in the Constitution of the United States; and
Whereas, the American people have lost faith in the political process because their voices are not heard nor their interests represented, and thus, an ever smaller percentage of Americans is motivated to vote; and
Whereas, the Constitution of the United States makes no mention of corporations or other artificial entities and there are no provisions extending rights to such entities; however, through a series of decisions equating a "corporation" with a "person," the United States Supreme Court has extended to corporations the constitutional rights and protections intended for people only; and
Whereas, unlike human beings, corporations can exist in perpetuity and in many countries at the same time, and, as a result, many large corporations, both foreign and domestic, invest in campaigns to invalidate or bypass regulatory law intended to protect the public, and, as such, corporate participation in the political process often conflicts with the public interest; and
Whereas, money is property and not speech and nowhere in the Constitution of the United States is money equated with speech; and
Whereas, because advertising is limited and costly, equating the spending of money with free speech gives those with the most money the most speech; and
Whereas, whenever special interests, including very wealthy individuals, are able to spend unlimited amounts of money on political speech, candidates and officeholders can be corrupted and intimidated and the free speech of most citizens is drowned out and denied; and
Whereas, monopolizing public speech neither promotes nor protects free speech; and
Whereas, anonymous contributions and spending for political gain promote dishonesty and corruption, preventing voters from assessing the motives of the speaker; and
Whereas, the public must be able to hold funders of political speech accountable when their messages prove false or misleading; and
Whereas, full and prompt disclosure of funding sources is essential to an informed electorate, fair elections, and effective governance; and
Whereas, Article V of the Constitution of the United States empowers the people and the states to use the amendment process to correct egregious decisions by the United States Supreme Court that subvert our representative government; Now, therefore,
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. A referendum shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State of North Carolina at a statewide election to be held November 6, 2018, to determine whether the people of North Carolina choose to urge the United States Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution of the United States declaring that constitutional rights belong only to individuals and not to corporations or other artificial entities and that constitutionally protected free speech excludes the unlimited spending of money on political campaign contributions. The referendum shall be held under the laws then governing elections in the State. Ballots, voting systems, or both may be used in accordance with Chapter 163 of the General Statutes. The question to be used in the voting systems and ballots shall be:
"[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST
Urging the United States Congress to amend the Constitution of the United States declaring that constitutional rights belong only to individuals and not to corporations or other artificial entities and that constitutionally protected free speech excludes the unlimited spending of money on political campaign contributions."
SECTION 2. If a majority of votes cast on the question are in favor of the referendum set out in Section 1 of this act, the State Board of Elections shall certify the referendum to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall enroll the referendum so certified among the permanent records of that office and shall certify the results of the referendum to the President of the United States, each member of the United States Congress, the Governor of the State of North Carolina, and each member of the North Carolina General Assembly.
SECTION 3. This act is effective when it becomes law.