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Wed Jul 24, 2013, 07:09 PM


Ending Corporate Personhood and Money as Free Speech - Move to Amend.

I just started an internship with Move to Amend

Move to Amend has two important goals 1) End corporate personhood and 2) End money as free speech. Both corporate personhood and money as free speech came out of court decisions - namely Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United. Therefore, the only way to overturn those decisions and wrestle power away from corporations and other big-money interests now is with a constitutional amendment.

What is corporate Personhood?
There are two conceptions of "corporate personhood". The first simply bestows upon corporations the ability to engage in many legal actions (e.g. enter into contracts, sue, be sued, etc). This is widely accepted and we do not object to this.

However, "corporate personhood" also commonly refers to the Supreme Court-created precedent of corporations enjoying constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings. We believe this form of "corporate personhood" corrupts our Constitution and must be corrected by amending the Constitution. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution ever mention corporations. But thanks to decades of rulings by Justices who molded the law to favor elite interests, corporations today are granted so-called "rights" that empower them to deny citizens the right to full self-governance.

For example, the Supreme Court has:

** prohibited routine inspections of corporate property without a warrant or prior permission, even though scheduling such visits may permit a company to hide threats to public health and safety. Marshall v Barlow's, 1978
** struck down state laws requiring companies to disclose product origins (International Dairy v. Amnestoy), thus creating “negative free speech rights” for corporations and preventing us from knowing what’s in our food.
** prohibited citizens wanting to defend their local businesses and community from corporate chains encroachment from enacting progressive taxes on chain stores. (Liggett v. Lee, 1933)
** struck down state laws restricting corporate spending on ballot initiatives and referenda, enabling corporations to block citizen action through what, theoretically, is the purest form of democracy. (First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti).

The notorious 1886 case of [link:http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=118&invol=394Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad] is just one in a long series of Supreme Court cases that entrenched "corporate personhood" in law. Justices since have struck down hundreds of local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on this illegitimate premise. Armed with these "rights," corporations wield ever-increasing control over jobs, natural assets, politicians, even judges and the law.

Move to Amend believe corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges citizens and their elected representatives willfully grant them. Our Amendment will reverse the Court’s invention of "corporate personhood" and limit corporations to their proper role: doing business.

Money as Free Speech

I think everyone here on DU is probably familiar with the Citizens United vs the FEC decision by the Supreme Court. The simple summary of Citizens United decision is that it granted corporations the ability to use money as free speech. It removed spending limits in campaigns. The result is, corporations with their vast and deep pockets can use money as speech to drown out the speech of regular, real, human people.

We saw the rise of the super pacs and all those dubious 401(c)4 non-profits during the last election after the Citizens United decision. The result is we had a presidential election in which over a billion dollars was spent on candidates and campaigns. Either directly or indirectly.

Until we wrest away control of our government from the hands of the large corporations and big money interests we will continue to get more ALEC-written laws like the FL Stand Your Ground law or US Chamber of Commerce written laws concerning minimum wages and worker rights (mostly lack of rights). We'll get more of ALEC and US Chamber of Commerce bought and paid for politicians on every level from local and state to the federal level passing laws favorable to them. We'll get more Right to Work (work more for less pay and benefits) states.

You can start out by simply signing Move to Amend's petition that states simply "We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights." Sign Petition

I'm very committed to this work. If you have questions or would like to become involved here are some links.

Suggested Amendment Text

Move to Amend home page
Move to Amend FAQs
Recommended Reading

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