1833 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan – “Corporations are not people”
In Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906), he asserted, “in my opinion, a corporation – an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law – cannot claim the immunity given by the 4th Amendment; for it is not a part of the ‘people within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by
the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment. “
1993 – Environmentalists are going to have be like the mob, in “Who Will Tell the People?,” by William Greider, published on this date
“’The big corporations, our clients, are scared shitless of the environmental movement,’ [public relations executive Frank] Mankiewicz confided. ‘They sense that there’s a majority out there and that the emotions are all on the other side — if they can be heard. They think the politicians are going to yield to the emotions. I think the corporations are wrong about that. I think the companies will have to give in only at insignificant levels. Because the companies are too strong, they’re the establishment. The environmentalists are going to have to be like the mob in the square in Romania before they prevail.’” (William Greider, Who Will Tell The People?, p. 24)
2003 – Publication of “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan
“Over the past 200 years, all over the world but especially in the United States, legal systems have been changed to accomplish two limits: limit the legal liability of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections of citizens….
“Individual corporations wield enormous influence over government policy-makers, communities, and entire regional economies, but the true measure of corporate power is the ability of the owners and managers of corporations to unite to influence political agendas and to subvert national and international law.”
1870 — “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” (later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation”), written by Julia Ward Howe published
The appeal was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. An influential feminist, Howe felt that women had a unique responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. Howe was unsuccessful in establishing a “Mother’s Day for Peace” celebration on June 2 of each year. The modern Mother’s Day is an unrelated celebration, established years later by Anna Jarvis.
1953 – Birth of Cornel West, American academic, author and activist
“American society is disproportionately shaped by the outlooks, interests, and aims of the business community — especially that of big business. The sheer power of corporate capital is extraordinary. This power makes it difficult even to imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on the U.S. government and its legal institutions.”
From The Role of the Progressive Politics,” 1982
2014 – “Corporations Are Not People. Period” article by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend National Director
“[S]imply overturning Citizens United will not solve much. Narrowing the solution while our movement is on the rise will guarantee that we’re left with a Band-Aid trying to cover a gushing headwound that is the current state of our democracy. We need to go deeper and make clear that only human beings can claim Constitutional rights…Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule — there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.”
1918 – Hammer v. Dagenhart [247 U.S. 251] Supreme Court decision – Commerce Clause double standard
The Court ruled that Congressional action to ban products manufactured by child labor from interstate commerce was an unconstitutional invasion of states’ rights. The issue was responding at the federal level to long hours and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for children in many states.
During this same period, however, the Court repeatedly used the hammer of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause on behalf of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws and rules intended to protect workers, consumers and the environment.
2013 — “The Right to Evade Regulation: How corporations hijacked the First Amendment” by Tim Wu posted article
“Fred Schauer of the University of Virginia calls such claims ‘First Amendment opportunism.’ Free speech is a cherished American ideal; companies are exploiting that esteem, as he puts it, ‘to try to accomplish goals that are not so clearly related to speech.’ The co-opting of the First Amendment has happened slowly, but not at all by accident. First, it was helped along by questionable court decisions. Today, it is being accelerated by a strange alliance between two groups: a new generation of conservative judges, who have repudiated the judicial restraint their forebears prized, and legendary liberal lawyers, like Floyd Abrams and Laurence Tribe, who, after building their reputations as defenders of free speech, are using their talents to deploy it as a tool of corporate deregulation.”
2015 – “New Zealand Now Recognizes ALL Animals As Sentient Beings!” posted article
“New Zealand has just set a great example to the world by recognizing what animal lovers have known forever- that our furry friends are as sentient as we are, and (obviously, dur) they have feelings just like we do. It’s a theme we have covered time and again here at True Activist, but this landmark ruling by NZ is the first time this shift in perception and policy has been extended to all animals, not just chimpanzees, orangutans, or dolphins. “The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, passed last month, aims to make it easier to prosecute people in animal cruelty cases, as well as banning animal testing and research.”
1738 – Birth of King George III, King of England
The systemic usurpations or seizures of the rights of colonists by the English King and Parliament were the major cause of the American Revolution. Besides Parliamentary Acts taxing colonial trade, those seizures occurred primarily through global trading corporations – such as the East India Company – and colonial corporations – such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, Maryland Company, etc. – that received charters or licenses from the King to engage in trade and/or to govern/oppress the colonists.
The Revolution was not simply one against George III, but also against global trading and Crown corporations.
2018 – “The Pushback Against Ending Corporate Rule” by Greg Coleridge posted article
“What’s going on? Why do so many individuals who acknowledge major harms by entrenched corporate power advocate only relatively minor solutions…
“Increased opposition to ending all corporate constitutional rights has focused on several major concerns — presented below with a response.
“Fears the corporate press and property would be legally defenseless against random government censor and seizure…
“Corporations need legal “rights” / protections to function…
“Reversing Citizens United and/or ending the influence of the wealthy and corporations in elections should be our only focus…
“Abolishing all corporate constitutional rights in this political environment is not realistic…
2018 – “Corporate speech impedes city’s right to create municipal utility” posted OpEd
“When you stop to think about it, what we experienced in Decorah is absurd. Leaders of an out-of-state, regulated monopoly used money they earned from our electric bill payments to run a deceptive campaign against our right to municipalize — a move that could have saved our community up to $5 million per year according to the NewGen feasibility study.
“Some argue that corporations have the right to protect their interests. I disagree. The institution of the corporation is a social construct. We the people created corporations to solve specific problems and benefit the public, for example to build a bridge or a turnpike. According to Reclaim Democracy, corporate charters “were granted for a limited time” and “corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.” Since the inception of this construct, corporations have taken on a life of their own, like rogue robots in science fiction movies. But we the people gave the corporation its rights and we can revoke them.” https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2018/06/04/decorah-utility-vote-stymied-corporate-funded-campaign/663536002/
1967 – See v. Seattle [387 U.S. 541] Supreme Court decision – corporations protected from random inspections under the 4th Amendment
The Supreme Court grants corporations 4th Amendment protection from random inspection by fire departments. The Court framed the issue on the basis of “business enterprises,” corporate or otherwise. An administrative warrant is necessary to enter and inspect commercial premises. Without random inspections it became virtually impossible to enforce meaningful anti-pollution, health, and safety laws.
2008 – Judge rules Blackwater Corporation is a person
Blackwater Corporation sued the City of San Diego to force it to issue the company a certificate of occupancy for its training facility in Otay Mesa before the plan went through the city’s public review process. Blackwater claimed its constitutional due process rights had been violated and that it needed to open its training facility on time to meet its contractual terms. “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract,” ruled U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.
2019 – How to Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers
“Corporate powers—who have perverted law, logic and nature to have their lifeless profiteering entities declared “persons”—are aghast that Mother Nature not only has rights but those rights can be legally and morally superior to the claim that a corporation’s right to profit is absolute.”
2006 – Voters in Humboldt County, CA pass initiative to protect right to fair elections and local democracy
“Measure T: the Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy” was passed by a vote of 55% to 45%. The measure prohibited corporations from outside the county from bankrolling political campaigns. The measure made clear that Humboldt citizens do not believe corporations are legal people and that only humans have constitutional rights.
2018 – “Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Surprising Breadth” by Adam Winkler published article
“After the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the same-sex wedding cake case, there was fast consensus that the ruling was a “narrow” one. The court, commentators insisted, had avoided creating any meaningful precedent and punted on the big and potentially difficult questions in the case pitting the baker’s freedom of expression and religion against the same-sex couple’s civil rights and equality. Yet, while the justices certainly found a convenient way out—the court unexpectedly held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the First Amendment free exercise of religion by expressing hostility to the baker’s religious beliefs—the decision has the potential to be quite broad.
“Although the justices never explicitly said so, the court seems to have quietly established that business corporations have religious liberty rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. If that is right, then Masterpiece Cakeshop could be a groundbreaking decision with profound reverberations in American law.
1954 – Death of Maury Maverick, U.S. Congressman from Texas
“Democracy to me is liberty plus economic security.”
2001 – Publication of “Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies” by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), edited by Dean Ritz
The book is considered by many to be a standard introductory book for anti-corporate activism.
“In these 70 essays, speeches, sermons and screeds, [the contributors] probe: corporations as ‘legal persons’; corporate social responsibility as a ploy; strategies for amending state corporation codes and challenging judge-made laws; and much, much more. This collection, which Howard Zinn calls ‘powerfully persuasive,’ chronicles POCLAD’s evolution – among the twelve POCLADers and with thousands of activists. Here are hidden histories, crisp analyses and thoughtful responses to corporate apologists – all in one provocative book.”
“From studying popular movements of the past we discover that men of property wrote their laws to protect themselves from too much democracy…[c]orporations today act in the capacity of governments. Energy corporations determine our nation’s energy policies. Automobile corporations determine our nation’s transportation policies. Military manufacturing corporations determine our nation’s defense policies…Corporations…outlawed control by local government over the “placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”