Brian Boyle: An Amendment to Center “We the People” in Our Constitution
In a new Issue Brief originally published by the American Constitution Society, American Promise Counsel Brian Boyle says the current intersectional systemic crises — economic, political, and social — present another opportunity in U.S. history for foundational lawmaking. Brian shares why now is the time for Americans to claim their sovereign rights and advocate for an amendment to the Constitution that will reorient our government’s processes so that “We the People” are central.
Throughout the history of the United States, times of crises also have been times of fundamental lawmaking — the creation of laws that answer existential questions and establish the relationship between the American people and our government. The current converging systemic crises facing our nation are awakening Americans to demand change, to assert that our system of government is meant to serve us, the people.
“When conditions grow intolerable, the People wake up and see that if the project of self-government is to survive, something deep must change,” he writes, noting that the current crises threaten our nation’s very survival and require a permanent, structural solution. “In a nation committed to the promise of self-government, our fundamental charter is the medium through which we address our deepest challenges.”
Because “We the People” are currently not explicitly guaranteed our sovereign rights in the governmental structure the Constitution creates, Boyle writes, we find ourselves in a system that “readily translates wealth into political power.” The proposed amendment would change that by reviving our collective power as “sovereign lawmakers,” so that our government reflects our wishes rather than those of the wealthy elite.
Boyle shares the text of the proposed amendment and how the amendment would put people at the center of government processes and priorities.
Section 1: We the People have compelling sovereign interests in representative self-government, federalism, the integrity of the electoral process, and the political equality of natural persons.
- This section aims to create a constitutional self-consciousness with “the People” at the center, which is reinforced and enhanced through the four terms it mentions. It also uplifts the concept of group action for the common good.
Section 2: Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to forbid Congress or the States, within their respective jurisdictions, from reasonably regulating and limiting contributions and spending in campaigns, elections, or ballot measures.
- This section aims to end the era of Buckley v. Valeo, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that initially viewed political spending as free speech and invalidated campaign finance regulations — federally, at the state level and locally. It also would prompt a new constitutional look at Buckley and other cases.
Section 3: Congress and the States shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and artificial entities, including by prohibiting artificial entities from raising and spending money in campaigns, elections, or ballot measures.
- The final section says Congress and states can enforce the amendment and potentially prohibit campaign spending by special interest groups, organizations, and non-human entities.
To realize these changes and restructure our relationship with government, Boyle writes, people across the country must take action for the amendment by contacting their elected officials to urge their support and realize the power we have to influence lasting, meaningful government reform. “The proposed amendment will not become part of our constitutional legacy without a supportive and mobilized American people.”
Issue Brief originally published by the American Constitution Society