Frequently Asked Questions
Foreign actors and governments have always posed a risk for the American project of self-government. Foreign interests spend considerable money and other resources to try to influence U.S. elections according to their ambitions and policy preferences. In the 21st century, the modes of potential foreign interference are constantly evolving, so it is crucial that America is capable of responding to such threats in flexible and effective ways.
The For Our Freedom Amendment contains multiple features that will strengthen America’s ability to cope with foreign interference now and in the changing future. Among other things, Section One recognizes that “representative self-government” and “the integrity of the electoral process” are “compelling sovereign interests” of the American people. In turn, Section Three empowers Congress and the States to implement those interests through appropriate legislation. Such legislation might include stronger disclosure requirements that would allow the American people to discern the true origins of the money being spent in our elections. Legislators might also seek to limit or prohibit political spending by foreign-influenced corporations. The For Our Freedom Amendment doesn’t dictate any particular approaches to the multi-faceted problem of foreign interference — instead, it enshrines the fundamental nature of the sovereign interests that are at stake, and it empowers the American people to respond flexibly through legislation.
When it comes to “dark money,” the main issue revolves around disclosure of the money’s true sources. At present, Supreme Court precedent allows state and federal legislatures to enact disclosure requirements that may address some of the concerns related to dark money. However, there is a concerted effort to narrow, and eventually undo, that precedent. Just last year, the Supreme Court decided a case (Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta) that will make it harder for legislatures to require disclosure. Although that case was not directly about campaign finance, the legal principles at issue — including First Amendment questions about the appropriate "level of scrutiny" for disclosure requirements — are the same.
The For Our Freedom Amendment makes it clear that reasonable campaign finance regulations — including disclosure requirements — are constitutional. Although the text of the proposed amendment does not specifically mention “disclosure,” such requirements are encompassed by the broader notion of “regulating.” (Section 2 provides: “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to forbid . . . reasonabl[e] regulati[on] [of] contributions and spending in campaigns, elections, or ballot measures.”). The amendment also identifies four compelling sovereign interests that could be used to justify disclosure requirements and other campaign finance regulations. These “compelling sovereign interests” are broader in scope than the types of “important governmental interests” that have so far been recognized by the Supreme Court to justify campaign finance regulations.
The For Our Freedom Amendment specifies that political equality applies to natural persons, not artificial entities. Per the amendment, artificial intelligences do not have a constitutionally-recognized interest in political equality because they are not actual members of the popular sovereign, i.e., the individual human beings who collectively constitute “We the People.” However, the text of the amendment would not prevent state or federal lawmakers from using the legislative process to accord certain rights to AIs. In that case, such rights would be creatures of state or federal law (and could be revised or repealed by state or federal legislators), but they would not be rights required by the federal constitution.