In his dissent in the 1938 case of Connecticut General Life Insurance Company v. Johnson, Justice Hugo Black wrote "in 1886, this Court in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, decided for the first time that the word 'person' in the amendment did in some instances include corporations. [...] The history of the amendment proves that the people were told that its purpose was to protect weak and helpless human beings and were not told that it was intended to remove corporations in any fashion from the control of state governments. [...] The language of the amendment itself does not support the theory that it was passed for the benefit of corporations."
Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1949, "the Santa Clara case becomes one of the most momentous of all our decisions. [...] Corporations were now armed with constitutional prerogatives."
Polls also show that this issue inspires not just disapproval, but a desire for serious action. The Hart survey found broad, bipartisan support for the notion of amending the U.S. Constitution to affirm that corporations don’t have the same rights as people, effectively overturning Citizens United. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and 68 percent of Republicans said they would support such an amendment.
Of course, a favorable public opinion poll is not the same as a vibrant movement to make the amendment a reality. As encouraging as these numbers are, what they don’t indicate is broad awareness of the issue. Only 22 percent of the people that Hart polled had actually heard of Citizens United before taking the survey; the rest based their opinion on a brief description of the court decision and proposed amendment.
From December 27, 2010, to January 3, 2011, Hart Research Associates conducted a survey among 500 registered voters on behalf of Free Speech For People with support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. The interviews were conducted online among a nationally
representative sample of voters.
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