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LongTomH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:20 PM
Original message
Abolish "corporate personhood" with a constitutional amendment.
Wednesday night, I attended our local Democracy for America meetup in KC. Our guest speaker was Ms. Mary Lindsey, local representative for Move to Amend movement. She had a great slideshow presentation on the history of the concept of corporate personhood, from the 1886 interpretation of the decision in the case of Santa Clara County vs Southern Pacific Railroad] to the Citizens United case of 2010. Her talk also included a very informative video on the Citizens United case from the Story of Stuff website.

Move to Amend wants nothing less than a constitutional amendment which would end the concept of corporate personhood. The actual language of the proposed amendments varies:

A number of different versions of democracy amendments dealing with corporate personhood, votings rights, and local democracy are currently under discussion. We deliberately have not chosen specific language at this time because we believe that the drafting process must involve many diverse individuals and organizations. Yes, lawyers and law professors are among our steering committee and our wider circle of counselors; however, their opinions are not the only ones that we will taken into account in offering model language for the democracy amendments.


Amending the constitution isnt exactly an easy proposition, ultimately it will require 2/3 of the states to ratify the amendment. But the movement to amend is beginning from the ground up. When the voters in Wisconsin voted on a replacement for the incumbent Supreme Court Justice, there were resolutions on the ballot in some counties to amend the constitution. The resolution in Madison, WI read:

"Shall the City of Madison adopt the following resolution: RESOLVED, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, calls for reclaiming democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate influence by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:
1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and
2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech."

84% of Madison voters approved the resolution.
Dane County voters had this resolution on their ballots:

"Should the US Constitution be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech, by stating that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights?"

The Dane Country resolution was approved by 78% of voters.
There are efforts to get similar resolutions in other locales. There have been quite a few successes already. There will be a webinar on how to get resolutions to end corporate personhood on the ballot in your locale on Tuesday, May 3.

Theres a local action toolkit on the Move to Amend website. Ms. Lindsey also suggested actions we can take:

  • See if theres a local Move to Amend organization in your area and attend its functions.
  • Get speakers from your local Move to Amend organization out to other organizations you belong to: churches, civic, political.
  • Send Letters to the Editor to local newspapers and TV stations.


Professor Cornell West says America is in midst of a radical democratic awakening. I really, really hope hes right. If he is, the movement to end the pernicious idea that corporations have rights that should only be reserved for persons is a necessary part of that; otherwise, everything else we do will be in vain.

For more information: Thom Hartmann has discussed the issue of corporate personhood and its disastrous effects on American Democracy on many of his YouTube videos. Start with It All Boils Down to Corporate Personhood. He adds more on the 1886 decision that originated the concept of corporate personhood in: Scott Walker is the face now but the first culprit was 100 years ago. You can also read Thoms latest book: Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became People and How You Can Fight Back.
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dhpgetsit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for sharing that! NT
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Thurifer Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
2. How would that work?
OK, help me here. How would that work? If I wanted to sue a corporation, who would I take to court? The management (who might or might not have the assets to cover my damage)? The individual stockholders one by one (because if you turn it into a class action against all of them aren't you just re-incorporating them)? In other words: How would I get to the corporate assets if I could not take the "corporation" to court? There would be no "there" there.
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LongTomH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Someone with more knowledge of Tort law will have to answer that one.
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inademv Donating Member (738 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. You'd take the corporation to count the same as now
the only change would be that the corporation would not have constitutional rights, or be able to use money as speech.

Question to the opposition of the change: why should multinational corporations be afforded the rights of citizens with regards to political contributions and protections from specific regulation?
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Thurifer Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. like "due process"?
Edited on Fri Apr-08-11 12:20 AM by Thurifer
"the corporation would not have constitutional rights"

Like "due process"? So the corporation I own with my brother would have no recourse if a corrupt zoning board rezones our corporate property so they can hand it over to their campaign contributors? Or a City Council that rules I have no free speech right to place advertising but looks the other way when the store owned by the Mayor's son does? No thanks.
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LooseWilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Your examples make no sense.
Are you putting forward an example of a publicly traded corporation owned by you and your brother? Generally publicly traded corporations (the ones who are considered people legally) are considerably bigger than something 2 brothers own (unless they're the Koch brothers). Usually 2 brothers will own a partnership, or an LLC... both of which are pass-through entities... and as such are simply bookkeeping entities for collecting revenues/expenses before then "passing through" said revenues/expenses to the owners... and in the process they Limit Liability (in that they can be dissolved rather than have liability "pass through" to the owners).

In any case... it isn't "due process" that has any relevance on corrupt zoning board activities... an individual has no particular rights to "due process" in the face of zoning regulations. This would be an issue that would have to be fought by means of some other process... which would be specific to the locality.

And... a city council rules you have no free speech right to place advertising?... Uhh, aside from porn advertising (or titty bars, or the like) or MoveOn ads during the Super Bowl... I've never heard of anything like that happening... and in any case... it wouldn't be a judgement regarding "free speech" (I can't, as an individual, reasonably expect to be able to buy right to post a gigantic hand flipping the bird on the side of the highway, with a caption saying "Fuck All You Christian Hypocrite Ass-Fucking Abstention Pledgers !!", for instance)... it would be an issue of "community standards"... but even more likely, it would be an issue of whether the advertiser can justify a reason to say that your advertisement is at odds with the "brand" that they are trying to create for their overall advertising community... which was why a "political" ad was banned from being aired on... CBS I believe... during the Super Bowl.

Obviously... "freedom of speech" didn't matter for shit.

Perhaps you should consult an attorney to see what rights the corporation owned by you and your brother really have, viz a viz advertising your corporate titty bar, or whatever, which you've apparently opened in a neighborhood zoned for schools and high density residential... if I understand your post arightthat might help you to clarify the details of what sort of problems you are facing.

:+
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 05:08 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. What a ridiculous claim.
So we should just continue allowing corporations to subvert our representative democracy because a corporation might be at risk being abused. LOL! Considering the condition of this nation you have got to be joking.

When we start to see widespread abuse of corporations you can get back to us. In the meanwhile "We the People" are god damned sick and tired of these abusive greedy thieving fucking corporations.
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 12:00 AM
Response to Original message
5. Lawyers defined the legal birth of a new person?
"With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, the owners of the what were then Americas largest and most powerful corporations - the railroads - figured theyd finally found a way to reverse Paines logic and no longer have to answer to we, the people. They would claim that the corporation is a person. They would claim that for legal purposes, the certificate of incorporation declares the legal birth of a new person, who should therefore have the full protections the voters have under the Bill of Rights."

http://zenwealth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=...

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LongTomH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 03:20 AM
Response to Original message
8. Almost forgot: Sign the petition
There's a Motion to Amend petition on the website.

Damn! I am getting old! :eyes:
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 05:13 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Done
Seems like I already signed something similar.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-08-11 08:22 AM
Response to Original message
11. It's a Start
There is so much wrong with how the American and multinational corporations get away with literal murder, we really need to rewrite or add a large part to the Constitution ( and put a number of govt. officials in jail for not enforcing the current Constitution)...
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