1885 – Death of Thomas Welles Bartley, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio (1852-1859)
Bartley wrote the majority opinion for the Ohio Court in the 1853 case of The Bank of Toledo v. The City of Toledo and John R. Bond, and concurred with the majority in three other cases that same year upholding state law providing the state and its counties the power to tax banks. The banks claimed that the tax violated the U.S. Constitution’s “Contracts Clause” since a higher tax rate was not included in the 1845 “Act to Incorporate the State Bank of Ohio, and other banking companies.”
Bartley asserted that a charter or contract between a private corporation and the state that created the franchise was actually a law, not a contract, and, therefore, the Contracts Clause was not applicable. His opinion also stated that the power to tax could not be surrendered by the legislature and that the government’s paramount obligation is to protect the public welfare despite being bound in good faith to protect contracts and private property.
The U.S. Supreme Court later that year reversed the Supreme Court of Ohio’s decisions when it ruled in the case of Piqua Branch of The State Bank of Ohio v. Jacob Knoup, Treasurer of Miami County (1853).
1949 – Justice William O. Douglas dissents in Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander [337 U.S. 562] Supreme Court decision – states that corporations are not persons
Regarding the ruling that corporations are given rights as persons under the 14th Amendment, Douglas stated, “I can only conclude that the Santa Clara case was wrong and should be overruled… There was no history, logic or reason given to support that view nor was the result so obvious that exposition was unnecessary…If they [the people] want corporations to be treated as humans are treated, if they want to grant corporations this large degree of emancipation from state regulation, they should say so. The Constitution provides a method by which they may do so. We should not do it for them through the guise of interpretation.”
2004 – Launch of Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Liberty Tree Foundation “is a nonprofit organization rooted in the belief that the American Revolution is a living tradition whose greatest promise is democracy. In order to help achieve that promise, Liberty Tree works to create a society in which communities and individuals have the desire, skills, and capacity to participate in the vital decisions that affect their lives. Such a society, we believe, is most likely to emerge from a genuine democratic revolution — one that focuses on deep structural, legal, and institutional change, dismantles oppression in all its forms, and is organized through the transformation of communities, institutions and local governments into conscious agents of democratic change.”
1892 – Birth of Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian
“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
[NOTE: And presumably “women’s” capacity for justice as well. ]
1940 – Death of Smedley Butler, Marine Corp Major General – on being a “muscle-man” for Big Business”
Butler was the most decorated marine in US history at the time of his death.
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism…I wouldn’t go to war again, as I have done, to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things that we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket…. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…”
1772 – Somerset v Stewart [98 ER 499] – slavery is outlawed in England and Wales
A slave becomes free by stepping on English soil. Runaway slaves from the colonies attempted to flee to England to gain their freedom. Some believed that the decision increased colonial support for independence, especially from southern colonies that wanted to protect their slave “property” and expand their territory.
1949 – Birth of Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts
“What we need is a system that puts an end to the boom and bust cycle. A system that recognizes we don’t grow this country from the financial sector; we grow this country from the middle class.” And…
“Powerful interests will fight to hang on to every benefit and subsidy they now enjoy. Even after exploiting consumers, larding their books with excessive risk, and making bad bets that brought down the economy and forced taxpayer bailouts, the big Wall Street banks are not chastened. They have fought to delay and hamstring the implementation of financial reform, and they will continue to fight every inch of the way.”
2007 – First U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, GA
“The United States Social Forum is an ongoing series of gatherings of social justice activists in the United States which grew out of the World Social Forum process, bringing together activists, organizers, people of color, working people, poor people, and indigenous people from across the United States. The goal of the gathering is to build unity around common goals of social justice, to build ties between organizations present at the event, and to help build a broader social justice movement. Planning for the first event was spearheaded by the organization Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide with dozens of other organizations from around the United States involved in the process. The US Social Forum defines itself as “a movement building process. It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.”
The Atlanta Forum was June 27 – July 1, 2007
The second Forum took place in Detroit June 22–26, 2010
The third Forum was June 25-28 in Philadelphia and June 24-28 in San Jose, CA
2020 – “There’s no predicting when movements will erupt, but this classic activist resource maps their path to success” posted article
“With Black Lives Matter in the midst of an unprecedented moment, now is the perfect time to read ‘The Movement Action Plan’ — a model for understanding the long arc of movements.”
“While it can’t be predicted exactly which outrages spark major uprisings and fuel social movements, the mere fact that some do reflects a pattern described 40 years ago by activist and author Bill Moyer in a newsprint pamphlet called “The Movement Action Plan.” It’s especially worth reading, or re-reading, now…
“After years of deeply analyzing social movements, Moyer identified a particular set of stages that successful ones go through…
“Moyer has warnings for movement organizers, though. There’s a danger that activists, especially those who have been drawn into dramatic demonstrations for the first time, will confuse public attention with victory. Failure to win changes quickly can lead to burnout, frustration, and resignation, or lead activists to take paths which might feel more “radical,” but can be counter-productive.”
2020 – “First Amendment Bars California from Requiring a Proposition 65 Glyphosate Warning”
“In a federal case of major significance in the Eastern District of California, the court on June 22 ruled that the First Amendment bars California from requiring that a Proposition 65 warning be applied to products containing glyphosate. Glyphosate is the primary active ingredient in the Monsanto product Roundup. The plaintiffs suing the state were a broad array of growers or trade groups that sell, or represent members that sell, glyphosate-based herbicides, or use those herbicides in cultivation of crops that are sold in California.”
1947 – Congress overrides Presidential veto in passing anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act
The law, formally known as the Labor Management Relations Act, significantly restricted the power and rights of labor unions, severely weakening the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act). Called the “slave labor bill” by union leaders, Taft-Hartley outlawed a variety of strikes (i.e. wildcat, jurisdictional, and political or solidarity), secondary boycotts, mass picketing and closed shops (where employers must only hire union members). However, corporations were granted “free speech” powers in the union certification process, usurping the rights of workers to “freedom of association.”
1999 – Remarks on Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) campaign proposal, “Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights” at WILPF National Congress, June 23-27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri by Virginia Rasmussen
Rasmussen described this current national campaign (1 of 3) of WILPF, which reads:
“There have been four pervasive patriarchal institutions in the history of Western Civilization. These are the classical empires, the ecclesiastical institutions, the nation state and the modern corporation. But the WORST of these is the modern corporation….This proposal, ‘Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights,’ recognizes and responds to the need for a new kind of struggle to wrest power over life, law and culture from these corporate bodies.
The proposal focuses WILPF’s efforts to do this work in three major realms:
• our preparation and that of others in our communities for a campaign against locally-felt corporate takings of OUR power,
• the carrying out of that campaign, and
• the merging of that work in a way that allows us to conduct some sort of national event or action that asserts the people’s rights OVER corporations.“
Their study group packet was used by some two-dozen WILPF branches and by numerous other organizations across the nation: https://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/2006-CompleteStudyGuide.pdf
2013 – UU national General Assembly in Louisville, KY passes an “Action of Immediate Witness” calling to “Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech”
“…BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly instructs the UUA to make its endorsement formal and public, supporting the efforts to amend the Constitution; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly further requests member congregations to pass resolutions that support and endorse a constitutional amendment to establish that corporations are not persons and money is not speech; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly encourages Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministries nationwide and other affiliated Unitarian Universalist organizations to join this important cause.
Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact to further the progress of a constitutional amendment to preserve the constitutional rights that our founding fathers intended solely for human persons, restore the effective voice of the people, and save our democracy. “
2021 – “Move to Amend Condemns Supreme Court’s Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid Decision” press release
“Court Overturns Long Standing Farmworkers’ Victory to Expand Corporate Constitutional Rights Doctrine.
“In a 6-3 ruling along ideological lines, the US Supreme Court yesterday overturned a California regulation allowing union organizers to enter workplaces to recruit agricultural workers on the grounds it violates the Fifth Amendment’s “takings” clause without just compensation…
“’For-profit corporations have always been favored over non-profit unions under the Court’s illegitimate doctrine of corporate constitutional rights. Now the Roberts’ Court is flaunting its favoritism with reckless abandon,’ stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. ‘It is bad enough that corporations can hijack Fifth Amendment rights against takings to overturn or demand compensation for lost profits from community-backed regulations, but now it’s been expanded that right to directly undermine a workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and free association. We reject the Court’s disturbing opinion and call on Congress to amend the U.S.Constitution by passing H.J.R. 48, the We the People Amendment, to make clear that constitutional rights belong to human beings, not artificial corporations.’”
1908 – Death of Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States — on corporate power
From his 1888 State of the Union Address: “The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor. As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”
1915 – Birth of Norman Cousins, on capitalism and government
“Capitalism in the United States has undergone profound modification, not just under the New Deal but through a consensus that continued after the New Deal… Government in the U.S. today is a senior partner in every business in the country.”
Cousins was a U.S. journalist, author, professor, peace activist
1982 – Lewis v. United States [680 F. 2d 1239 9th Circuit] – court rules that the Federal Reserve is private
“Federal Reserve banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of a Federal Tort Claims Act, but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations in light of fact that direct supervision and control of each bank is exercised by board of directors. Federal Reserve banks…are locally controlled by their member banks; banks are listed neither as ‘wholly owned’ government corporations nor as “mixed ownership” corporations; federal reserve banks receive no appropriated funds from Congress and the banks are empowered to sue and be sued in their own names…”
2011 – Posted article on need to create power
“But this is the long war. And politicians respond to only one thing–power. This is not the flaw of democracy, it’s the entire point. It’s the job of activists to generate, and apply, enough pressure on the system to affect change.”
2020 – “Bayer to pay up to $10 billion to settle cancer lawsuits over glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup” posted article
“Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, the National Director of Move to Amend, a grassroots political organization that advocates to end corporate personhood, says that Monsanto engages in lobbying efforts to affect glyphosate regulations. ‘Monsanto has waged a sophisticated PR campaign to bully scientists and undermine findings that glyphosate is cancerous,’ Sopoci-Belknap noted. ‘In addition Monsanto and agribusiness leaders protecting the company’s interests have a revolving door relationship with many agencies that are supposed to be overseeing and regulating the corporation.'”
1903 – Birth of George Orwell, on democracy
“In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.”
Orwell was an English novelist, journalist and critic. His most famous works were “1984” and “Animal Farm.”
1975 – Release date of the film “Roller Ball”
“In the film, the world of 2018 (referred to in the tagline as “the not too distant future”) is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly based in Houston which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, and food on a global basis. According to the tagline, in this world, ‘wars will no longer exist. But there will be… Rollerball.’
“The film’s title is the name of a violent, globally popular sport around which the events of the film take place. It is similar to Roller Derby in that two teams clad in body armor skate on roller skates (some instead ride on motorcycles) around a banked, circular track. There, however, the similarity ends…
“The various global corporations own Rollerball teams, named after the cities in which they are based. Energy Corporation sponsors the Houston team. The game is a substitute for all current team sports and for warfare. While its ostensible purpose is entertainment, Mr. Bartholomew, a high-level executive of the Energy Corporation, describes it as a sport designed to show the futility of individual effort.”
2013 – Supreme Court strikes down portion of Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, [570 U.S. (2013)]
This landmark 5-4 ruling determined that a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. The five Justices concluded that Section 4(b), which identifies locations in the South with a pattern of voting discrimination, was unconstitutional since the formula it used was based on 4-decade old data and not reflective of current realities. The four Justices who voted to retain the Act claimed that voter suppression remains a problem throughout the South.
2003 – Nike v. Kasky – Supreme Court fails to rule on corporate right to lie
The Supreme Court chose not to rule on a case brought by Nike Corporation concerning their right to political free speech under the 1st Amendment. A California court ruled that state laws mandating truth in advertising (commercial speech) had been violated. The question was over whether ReclaimDemocracy.org, called the dismissal “a victory for democracy and the truth.” Jeff Milchen, the organization’s director said it was “a relief to hear that the court was not prepared to consider even more extreme judicial activism on behalf of corporate America and against U.S. citizens by creating a corporate right to lie.”
The case returned to California where it was settled out of court before trial. The question of whether the 1st Amendment gives a corporation the right to speak untruths remains undetermined.
2015 – Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision – same sex marriage is legal
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a fundamental right to marry in all 50 states is guaranteed under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution for same sex couples.
As with all decisions that for the first time guarantees rights to a new group of persons, the decision did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of several decades of organizing for LGBT rights. A key moment that many believed sparked this social movement was the 1969 Stonewall protest in New York City.
2021 – “Getting smarter and faster – Artificial intelligence and cybersecurity” online posting
“Over time, AIs may become so sophisticated that they will be considered legally and morally responsible for their own actions, whether we understand them or not. In law, it’s already possible for non-human entities to be held legally at fault for wrongdoing through what’s called corporate personhood: where businesses have legal rights and responsibilities in the same way people do. Potentially the same could one day apply to AIs.
“That means, in future, if we can find AIs guilty of a crime, we might even have to think about whether they should be punished for their crimes if they don’t understand the rights and wrongs of their actions, often a threshold for criminal liability in humans.”