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McGovern backs amendment to exclude corporations as ‘people’

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney might beg to differ, but corporations aren’t “people,” according to Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who wants the Constitution to ordain that only living, breathing beings were meant by the Founding Founders when they began the country’s most sacred document with these words: “We the people.”

During a campaign swing in Iowa in August, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and now GOP presidential candidate, said that “corporations are people.”

McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, introduced yesterday a proposed constitutional amendment that, he said, would “clarify the authority of Congress and the states to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities.”


“As any high school civic student knows,  the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution are ‘We the People,’ ” McGovern said.  “Corporations are not people. They do not breathe.  They do not have children.  They do not die in war.  They are artificial entities which we the people create and, as such, we govern them, not the other way around.”

McGovern criticized what he called a “corporate rights” movement “that seeks to give corporations the same rights as people.”

He cited last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission that struck down a federal law that banned independent campaign spending by corporations and unions for “electioneering” or partisan politics that advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. The ban was part of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.

“The Citizens United ruling marks the most extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine which has eroded our First Amendment and our Constitution.  Now is the time for a 28th Amendment that lifts up the promise of American self-government: of, for, and by the people,” McGovern said.

Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at bobby.calvan@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.