1831 – Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia [30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1] court decision
Court rules against Cherokees who sued the state of Georgia for taking their land and rights. The court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was “domestic dependent” and, thus, without status in court.
2000 – Ohio State Representative calls for the charter of the Cleveland Clinic Corporation to be revoked
The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that Ohio State Representative Barbara Pringle (with the help of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee) asked in a letter that Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery initiate charter revocation proceedings against the Cleveland Clinic Corporation. The Clinic wanted to purchase two Cleveland area hospitals, Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East and St. Michael Hospital, which would have to be shut down before the purchase. This would reduce the availability of healthcare to many Clevelanders and move toward greater healthcare monopolization. The charge was that the Clinic exceeded their legal authority as stipulated in its charter. This effort of citizen authority over corporations yielded media attention and played a role in the ultimate sale of the hospitals to another healthcare corporation, which kept them open.
2006 – “Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” is enacted
“On March 18, the townspeople of Barnstead, New Hampshire voted in favor of the ‘Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance’ in their Town Meeting, with only one dissenting vote. The ordinance not only bans corporations from taking water from Barnstead except for local use, but it also denies them corporate personhood. The preamble harks back to the days of the American Revolution: ‘We believe that the corporatization of water supplies in this community—placing the control of water in the hands of a corporate few, rather than the community—would constitute tyranny and usurpation; and that we are therefore duty bound, under the New Hampshire Constitution to oppose such tyranny and usurpation.'”
New Hampshire organizers of the Alliance for Democracy’s “Defending Water for Life” campaign worked the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Gail Darrell and citizens in Barnstead to achieve this victory. Ruth Caplan and Nancy Price lead that AfD campaign.
2003 – South Dakota constitutional amendment promoted by Dakota Rural Action prohibiting most corporate ownership of real estate used for agriculture overturned
Amendment E to the South Dakota Constitution, passed in 1998, prohibited corporations from owning farmland and otherwise engaging in farming in South Dakota, with certain exceptions. The Eighth Circuit Federal Court on this day ruled that Amendment E violated the dormant Commerce Clause because the amendment discriminated against out-of-state interests
2003 – New tobacco company chartered in Virginia – Licensed to Kill Inc.
Cofounder Robert Hinkley declared the company’s purpose was to manufacture and market its product in a way that “generates profits for investors while each year killing over 400,000 Americans and more than 4.5 million other people worldwide.” Their motto – “We’re rich, you’re dead” – and the corporation were created to demonstrate how states sanction and protect corporate crimes. Virginia didn’t want to grant the charter, but had no choice, as the corporation’s structure and purpose did not break any laws.
2013 – Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of Pennsylvania’s Washington County Court of Common Pleas rules that corporations are not persons
Judge O’Dell-Seneca declared, “In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it…the constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.”
Decision at http://celdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Wash_Co_PA_Opinion_032013.pdf
2018 – Published article, “Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: An Investigative Reporter Talks Glyphosate”
“I’m under the impression that the studies that chemical companies submit to the EPA are often confidential, so that independent scientists never get a chance to see it.
“Yes. I’ve gotten copies of them myself, and every single page is stamped “Trade Secret. Confidential.” That is a problem. Over time, independent researchers and scientists have done a number of studies on glyphosate and Roundup, and they have found problems. And some of that is what IARC looked at and how they came to their conclusion.”
[Note: Many original corporate charters, issued by the state, stipulated that certain internal documents had to be available for periodic public inspection. That was prior to corporate attorneys convincing activist Supreme Court Justices that their corporate clients should be granted Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights intended solely for human persons]
1877 – National Farmers Alliance established – populists challenge corporate power
Commonly known as the “Northern Alliance,” farmers collectively organized against unfair railroad practices and advocated for tax reforms and legalization of insurance companies sponsored by the Grange. Southern farmers organized several years earlier, calling themselves the “Southern Alliance,” in support of abolishing national banks and monopolies, issuing Greenback or Fiat paper money, a national monetary system (called the “Sub-Treasury” plan), progressive taxes, and more.
The Farmers Alliances’ were involved in extensive political and economic education (much of it focused on the power of banks and railroads and the need for public ownership of certain public services), formed cooperatives to sell their produce and goods, published newspapers, and, through the creation of the Populist Party, ran candidates for public office — winning numerous U.S. Senate and House seats. As the largest national social movement in the history of the country, it was a major threat to the political and economic power structures. Internal political and strategic divisions and lack of acceptance of people of color limited its effectiveness, which along with opposition from corporations and the super wealthy, contributed to its demise.
2000 – Letter to Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School by Richard L. Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD]
“I heard you interviewed recently on radio. I am writing to say how refreshing it was indeed to hear a physician talk with passion against the “corporatization” — the literal factoryization—of disease care and health care.
But it’s only logical, no? The rest of our society has been/is being transformed into assembly lines—of work, of art, of the mind and of the soul. Listening to you, I thought of Martin Niemöller, the German Protestant pastor who told how he sat by when the Nazis came for people by category…But the corporate assembly lines came for the workers, and the doctors were silent…
They came for the educators, and then the legislators, and the judges, and the mayors—and the doctors could not be heard. The corporate assembly lines came for the free press, they came for our elections . . . Now, they’re coming for our genes, for food, for the basic biological building blocks of life . . . and where are the doctors? It’s all been of a piece. The corporate assembly lines have come for and gone away with our Constitution, our liberty, our Declaration of Independence. So who should be surprised that now they’ve come for you? Why should anyone care?
But the fact is, plenty of people care … all the people across generations and vocations who have been resisting the corporate assembly-lining of life and death and work and thought and of the natural world.
So it’s not too late for you, for your colleagues, for your students, for your patients, for your spleens and livers. It’s not too late to sew the histories together; to make solidarity connections.
To speak out. To resist. To join with others. To design new designs…The few are coming for the many. As in Nazi Germany, they target people category by category—in the process making each category of people a little less human. They are coming with the protection of the law—of the police, of our learned judges—with the assistance of our own government.
It’s a pisser, Jerry, isn’t it?”
1888 – Death of Morrison Waite, chief justice of the US Supreme Court, when corporations are first granted unalienable constitutional rights
Morrison was chief justice at the time of the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co (118 US 394) decision. The Court ruling focused exclusively on a tax issue. However, the court reporter (and former banker), J.C. Bancroft, added his own summary in the headnotes for the case and nowhere else — granting the railroad equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. After the fact, Waite said this about the headnotes question: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids any state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are of the opinion that it does.” Thus, the onslaught of anointing corporations with never intended constitutional rights began in earnest.
1971 – Proposed 26th Amendment reducing the right to vote from 21 to 18 years of age passes Congress
Both the House and Senate passed the proposed amendment and sent to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the states in just 3 months, 8 days — the quickest time for any amendment. The 26th Amendment became part of the Constitution on July 1, 1971.
2010 – “On the History of Corporate Personhood and a Broad Amendment strategy for Overturning It” posting by Mary Zepernick on the Alliance for Democracy website
“At the outset, legal persons were white propertied men, 55 of whom gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, closed their doors and replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution – sealing their records for half a century. The historian James Beard referred to them as the ‘well bred, well fed, well read, and well wed!
“Cape Cod’s revolutionary pamphleteer and playwright Mercy Otis Warren when the new document was unveiled: ‘the Senate is too oligarchical; the country is too big to be governed by a strong federal system, and where are the rights of the people?
Why is the “Campaign to Legalize Democracy” (www.movetoamend.org) using a broad amendment strategy? In effect, we are seizing the opportunity to exercise active control over our Constitution – not a document belonging to the Courts, nor to the Congress nor to the Chief Executive, but to us, the people’s Constitution. At this stage, no one knows the “right” path to take. This is a long term, multi-layered challenge. It’s not a contest but a collaboration between two approaches (and probably more to come).”