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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Constitutional Amendment Declaring Corporations Aren't People Faces Long Odds


A proposed constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people faces extremely long odds, according to one Montana political scientist. Senator Jon Tester announced earlier this month that he plans to introduce three campaign finance-related bills.One is a proposed constitutional amendment declaring corporations are not people. UM Political Science Professor Rob Saldin says it’s a popular idea that will probably go nowhere fast:

"Chances of the amendment passing are approximately zero percent," he says.

Saldin points out the complicated and messy job of passing simple federal laws is child’s play compared to amending the U.S. constitution:

"An amendment require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. After that it has to be ratified by the legislatures of three quarters of the states. It’s just an enormous hurdle," he says.

Not to mention, Saldin notes, the other not-so-insignificant hurdles; Congress  — and most of the states — are controlled by Republicans who he says probably aren’t too eager to embrace such an amendment.

Democrat Jon Tester, Montana's senior senator, says this should not be a partisan issue:

"When I go back to Montana I hear from Democrats and Republicans about the problems with the campaign system we have today," he says.

Tester says he has a healthy skepticism of President Donald Trump’s vows to 'Drain the swamp,' but:

"This is really part of cleaning up the swamp. This is getting more transparency so that people know what kind of creatures are trying to influence their elections," Tester says.

UM Political Science Professor Rob Saldin points out that Tester has always been an advocate for campaign finance reform, going so far as to characterize it as one of Tester’s core issues.

The Senator introduced a similar constitutional amendment measure in 2013, but it did not gain any traction.

Tester is running for reelection in 2018. His is one of several Democratic seats Republicans hope to flip next year.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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