The Fourth Amendment says the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, and papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." Does the Sanders-Deutch Amendment, therefore, mean Congress could pass a law empowering federal agents to enter Comedy Central, and other Viacom facilities, and seize its papers without showing probable cause or securing a warrant?"
Why not? Sanders-Deutch expressly says the rights protected by the Constitution "do not extend to for-profit corporations."
Some might object that a law targeting Viacom in this way would violate the principle of due process.
But in a nation whose Constitution included the Sanders-Deutch Amendment, the federal agents carrying out the congressional command to invade Viacom's offices could say: So what?
After all, the Fifth Amendment says "nor shall any person ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." It does not say "any corporation." And, again, Sanders-Deutch says constitutional rights are for "natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations."
The second element of the Sanders-Deutsch Amendment appears no less radical. It says Congress can regulate corporations and other private entities "so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press."
Why does it expressly carve out just that part of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom "of the press"? The First Amendment, as it currently stands, also protects the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech generally, the freedom to peaceably assemble and the freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Yes, many of this nation's most powerful -- and liberal -- news organizations are corporations and private entities that would like to keep -- and ought to be able to keep -- their freedom "of the press." But are there not also many corporations and private entities in this country today that engage freely in exercising their religion, their right of speech, their right of assembly and their right to redress the government when they have a grievance with its policies?
No doubt Comedy Central -- and its parent Viacom -- enjoy exercising many of these rights and ought to be able to continue doing so.
Referring to the forum at which Sanders and Deutch promoted their proposed constitutional amendment, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that her party now has a "clear agenda" to "amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to use secret, unlimited, huge amounts of money flowing to campaigns." She did not specify which amendment this agenda embraced.
Does it seek to abridge just freedom of speech -- or the entire Bill of Rights?