REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 20 – 26

June 20

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.”

http://libertytreefoundation.org/building-democracy-movement-usa

June 21

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…”

June 22

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.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Social_Forum

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.”

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/first-amendment-bars-california-from-64992/

June 23

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. “

Full resolution at http://www.uua.org/statements/amend-constitution-corporations-are-not-persons-and-money-not-speech

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.’”

https://www.movetoamend.org/cedar_point_nursery_decision

June 24

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.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/06/evolving/240972/

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.'”

https://www.salon.com/2020/06/24/bayer-to-pay-up-to-10-billion-to-settle-cancer-lawsuits-over-glyphosate-the-herbicide-in-roundup/

June 25

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.

June 26

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.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 13 – 19

June 13

1866 – States ratify 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting former slaves citizenship, “due process” and “equal protection of the laws”

After the Amendment’s adoption by Congress, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax spoke in favor of Section 1: “I will tell you why I love it. It is because it is the Declaration of Independence placed immutably and forever in the Constitution.”

Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2459 (1866).

June 14

2010 — Publication of revised edition “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became “People” – And How You Can Fight Back” by Thom Hartman

A seminal work. “Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land?”

Weekly installments of the book was published at truthout.org, beginning at http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/331:unequal-protection-how-corporations-became-people-and-how-you-can-fight-back

2011 – Wales, NY, Adopts Community Rights Ordinance

The Ordinance (No.3-2011) was enacted as a local law under NYS Municipal Home Rule Act, which recognizes broad police powers under the statute. The Ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales’s residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents of the Town of Wales to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”

June 15

1215 – Magna Carta signed

Widely considered as the foundational document of modern democracy, the Magna Carta was signed by King John of England in 1215 under pressure by noble barons who feared losing their lands based on the whims of the sovereign. It also established other individual rights, including the right to a trial by one’s peers.

1836 – Charter (license) of Second National Bank of the United States repealed

This was the third quasi national bank of the former British colonies — following the Bank of North America (1781-1785, chartered by the Continental Congress) and Bank of the United States (1791-1811, chartered by the US Congress). While called a “national” bank, it was not public but actually a commercial/corporate bank with the power to issue money directly. Early on, it issued a huge amount of money (more than 20 times its reserves) as loans that led to financial speculation and large corporate profits. A year later, it stopped issuing loans, resulting in a severe contraction of the money supply. This led to massive bankruptcies and the Panic of 1819. When President Andrew Jackson threatened to repeal its charter, the Bank’s leaders used their power to restrict money circulation to cause another depression. Despite Bank President Nicolas Biddle’s effort to have its charter renewed, President Jackson opposed renewal, saying, “The immense capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country…and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States.”

The bank charter was, in fact, repealed – resulting in its dissolution.

1917 – Congressional passage of the Espionage Act

The law made it a crime to interfere with military operations or recruitment, prevent military insubordination and to prevent support of U.S. enemies during wartime. The result has been restrictions of free speech over the decades to question government policies. Those who have been charged under the Act include Eugene V. Debs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. 

1934 –  “The Public Influence of the Bar” address by Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone calling out the American Bar Association

“’Steadily the best skill and capacity of the profession has been drawn into the exacting and highly specialized service of business and finance. At its best the changed system has brought to the command of the business world loyalty and superb proficiency and technical skill. At its worst it has made the learned profession of an earlier day the obsequious servant of business, and tainted it with the morals and manners of the market place in its most anti-social manifestations.’ Justice Stone described the plight of the country as a ‘sorely stricken social order” with the Bar doing much to serve business but “…so little to make law more readily available as an instrument of justice for the common man (sic).’”

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1331738?seq=1

2021 — “Duty To Warn: The Lie Of Corporate Personhood” posted online by Gary Kohls, M.D.

“Our Supposed “Law and Order” Society Severely Punishes Human Rapists and Plunderers, but Slaps the Wrists of Their Corporate Counterparts…

“Antisocial/sociopathic Personality Disorder: Linking Human and Corporate Criminals…

“Corporations Meet the Definition of Antisocial/sociopathic Personality Disordered Entities…

“What Should Be Done with Corporate Plunderers?…

“Shouldn’t Antidemocratic, Authoritarian Corporations Be Considered “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”?…

“I like that notion. Who knows how many lives would be saved if that were done?…

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2106/S00174/duty-to-warn-the-lie-of-corporate-personhood.htm

June 16

1723 – Birth of Adam Smith, author of “Wealth of Nations,” who critiqued corporations

In his famous work written in 1776, Wealth of Nations, Smith criticized corporations for their effect in curtailing “natural liberty.” According to David Korton, “Smith saw corporations, as much as governments, as instruments for suppressing the competitive forces of the market, and his condemnation of them was uncompromising. He makes specific mention of corporations twelve times in his classic thesis, and not once does he attribute any favorable quality to them. Typical is his observation: ‘It is to prevent this reduction of price, and consequently of wages and profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion it, that all corporations, and the greater part of corporation laws, have been established.’”

David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Korten/RiseCorpPower_WCRW.html

1938 – Temporary National Economics Committee is established

The TNEC held hearings on the concentration of economic power, including monopolies. Their final report “Investigation of Concentration of Economic Power” stated: “the principal instrument of the concentration of economic power and wealth has been the corporate charter with unlimited power.” Not just economic power, but political power.

2016 – North Dakotans soundly reject corporate farming measure

“North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms.

Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351, according to preliminary results posted on a state website.” http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northdakota-farming-idUSKCN0Z10DU

June 17

1239 – Birth of King Edward I, first to utilize “quo warranto” written order

Quo warranto is a Medieval Latin meaning “by what warrant?” It’s a written order by a governing power (e.g. Kings in the past, legislatures early in U.S. history, and courts in the present) requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising a claimed right or power. It originated under King Edward I of England to recover previously lost lands, rights and franchises.

This power was transferred to states following the American Revolution. State legislatures utilized quo warranto powers to challenge previously chartered or franchised corporations that acted beyond their original privileges granted by the state. The result was frequent revocation of corporate charters and dissolution of  corporations — in the name of affirming citizen sovereignty or self-governance. 

All 50 states still retain elements of quo warranto. The authority concerning the creation and dissolution of corporations remains in existence.

1971 – Nixon’s War on Drugs  (Presidential Initiative)

President Richard Nixon declares a “war on drugs” which disproportionately and violently targets economically impoverished communities of color for the next 4 decades. It led to mass incarceration for drug-related offenses. White populations were relatively unaffected.

2020 – “Why isn’t PG&E getting the death penalty?” posted article by Thom Hartmann

“Pacific Gas and Electric, known as PG&E, just pled guilty to killing 84 American citizens.

“When they want to buy politician’s favors and votes, they claim that they are a ‘person,’ but when they admit to killing real human persons, they claim that they are just a corporation and therefore nobody can or should go to jail.

“Corporate Personhood is a lie.”

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/06/why-isnt-pge-getting-the-death-penalty/

2020 – “Don’t Be Fooled. The Corporate Elites Are Gaslighting You Once Again” posted article by Chris Hedges

“The entrenched racism in America has always meant that poor people of color are the first cast aside in society and disproportionately suffer from the most brutal forms of social control meted out by the police and the prison system. But there will not be, as Martin Luther King pointed out, racial justice until there is economic justice. And there will not be economic justice until we wrest power back from the hands of our corporate masters.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/17/dont-be-fooled-corporate-elites-are-gaslighting-you-once-again

June 18

1849 – Birth of David K. Watson, Ohio Republican Attorney General

Watson sought to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company in 1892 for forming a trust. In his legal brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, he stated, “Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it . . .” State v. Standard Oil Co., 30 N.E. 279 (Ohio 1892)

1854 – Birth of E.W. Scripps, American newspaper publisher and founder of The E. W. Scripps Company

“A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper’s income… The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few…that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people shall have in order that they vote…in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes.”

1925 – Death of Robert LaFollette, on corporate power

“The existence of the corporation, as we have it with us today, was never dreamed of by the (founding) fathers. Until the more recent legislation, of which it is the product, the corporation was regarded as a purely public institution. The corporation of today has invaded every department of business, and its powerful but invisible hand is felt in almost all activities of life… the corporation has practically acquired dominion over the business world. The effect of this change upon the American people is radical and rapid… The influence of this change upon character cannot be overestimated…” – Speech at Mineral Point, WI  – July 4, 1897

[Note: LaFollette represented Wisconsin in both chambers of Congress and served as the Governor of Wisconsin. A Republican for most of his career, he ran for President of the United States as the nominee of his own Progressive Party in the 1924 presidential election.]

2020 – “Amazon’s Private Government” posted article by Shaoul Susan and Zephyr Teachout

A new patent cements the company’s aims to use its power over sellers to consolidate control.

“The patent, for a form of blockchain ledgering technology, will allow Amazon to oversee the collection of an unprecedented amount of data about the business operations of its sellers, including their entire supply chain.In essence, the patent fulfills Amazon’s plans to create a private regulatory regime, where it uses proprietary information to create a “certification” bureaucracy…

“The seemingly benign patent, which covers a “Distributed Ledger Certification” system, provides a glimpse into a dystopian future in which Amazon is the all-seeing colossus of commerce. This is dangerous because it takes an already abusive monopolist and gives it the powers of private government.”

https://prospect.org/power/amazons-private-government/

June 19

1865 – Last slaves in the US emancipated – “Juneteenth”

“As the Civil War came to a close in 1865, a number of people remained enslaved, especially in remote areas…

“This was especially the case in Texas, where thousands of slaves were not made aware of freedom until June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued an order officially freeing them. Their celebration would serve as the basis of June 19 — or Juneteenth — a holiday celebrating emancipation in the US.

“Ironically, while Juneteenth has become the most prominent Emancipation Day holiday in the US, it commemorates a smaller moment that remains relatively obscure. It doesn’t mark the signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which technically freed slaves in the rebelling Confederate states, nor does it commemorate the December 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment, which enshrined the end of slavery into the Constitution. Instead, it marks the moment when emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy.

“In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the US has always been delayed for black people…

“Those barriers may remain until America truly begins to grapple with its history.”

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/6/19/17476482/juneteenth-holiday-emancipation-african-american-celebration-history

1888 – Republican Party opposes trusts

The Republican Party opposed “all combinations of capital organized in trusts” in their Party Platform.

1934 – Passage of the federal Communications Act

“Even in a capitalist country like the United States, after all, we do not turn all public resources that have potential commercial value into private property. All navigable rivers, for example, are permanently retained as public property. Imagine what it would be like if particular portions of the Mississippi River were sold off to private owners who could then decide who could or could not use the river and at what cost?

“In the U.S. these issues for the broadcast spectrum were initially resolved in the 1934 Communications Act which basically privatized most of the airways, but did so in a way that also affirmed the on-going public character of the resource. Broadcasters were given renewable licensees for fixed terms that gave them exclusive use of specific parts of the radio spectrum, but they were also described as “trustees” who had to serve the “public interest” rather than simple, outright owners with full private property rights. Critically, the provisions of the original 1934 Communications Act severely restricted the number of radio stations a single firm could own in a given broadcasting market, as well as the total number of stations a firm could own across markets. The idea behind these restrictions was quite simple: concentrations of ownership would threaten the public functions of the airways, reduce local responsiveness and diversity.”

-From “Corporate Control of the Media” by Robert McChesney

2018 – Published article, “Exxon says climate lawsuits violate its right to free speech. Seriously.”

“After the California cities filed suit, Exxon brought a petition before the Texas 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals claiming the lawsuits were part of a conspiracy intended to waylay the company’s right to free speech and force it to change its position on climate change. Yes, you read that correctly. Exxon argued that the cities were trying to make the company agree to a number of truths about climate change, which, in effect, violated Exxon’s First Amendment rights to say whatever the hell it wants about climate change.

“Yeah, sounds crazy! But the Texas judge, R.H. Wallace Jr., bought the argument and handed Exxon a victory in April. That means the company can now grill California city officials about whether the climate suits, from the Bay to New York City, have been one big conspiracy to violate the company’s right to free speech.”

https://grist.org/article/exxon-says-climate-lawsuits-violate-its-right-to-free-speech-seriously/

2019 – “Congressional Interns and Congress Redirections: A Meeting” by Ralph Nader

“I continued my remarks about how corporations have been given by the Federal Courts the same rights as human beings. Even though, neither the words ‘corporation’ or ‘company’ ever appear in our Constitution. Add this corporate ‘personhood’ to the expanding privileges and immunities of corporate power, in these times of corporate crime waves, and equal justice under law between U.S. citizens and Exxon/Mobil or Pfizer or Wells Fargo is a cruel mockery.

“I told the students to look at the fine print contracts they sign or click on that have taken away their precious freedom of contract and sometimes their historic right to pursue wrongdoers in court.

“What is worse, youngsters grow up ‘corporate’ rather than grow up ‘civic’ – think of all the corporate ads they are subjected to that are not contradicted. Young people don’t even realize what has been stripped away from their rightful protections.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 6 – 12

June 6

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.

June 7

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.”

https://rowman.com/isbn/9781891843105

June 8

1680 – Virginia General Assembly passed “An act for preventing Negroes Insurrections” in response to planters’ concerns about rebellious slaves

Blacks are banned from carrying weapons of any kind and if they “presume” to physically resist any “christian” they are punished with “thirty lashes on his bare back well laid on.” Blacks could also be legally killed if they “…lye hid and lurking in obscure places, comitting injuries to the inhabitants, and shall resist any person or persons that shalby any lawfull authority by imployed to apprehend…”

1809 – Death of Thomas Paine, American revolutionary 

“Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the creator of the earth open a land office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue.”

1845 – Death of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States

“The bold effort the present (central) bank had made to control the government … are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American people, should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it.”

“If Congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given to be used by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

2018 –“Counterpoint: U.S. Supreme Court of cash clowns” posted oped

“On June 4 our Constitution was clobbered in the Masterpiece Bakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case in front-page disaster news…

“Last week, the court ruled that minorities are no longer entitled to equal rights under our Constitution (the two gay guys already were married and were turned away by the Bible-bearing baker when they tried to buy a cake for their reception)…

‘Kennedy’s decision says the decision made by the legal forum in Colorado (its Civil Rights Commission) was legally correct — that is, Colorado made the correct decision that it was wrong for the bigoted baker to deny cake to the gay couple because of religious beliefs.

“But in this case Colorado was more wrong than the baker because after the commission said the baker was wrong, its members went further and compared him to bigots who say slavery and the Holocaust were “good things.”

“These insults, Kennedy says, operated to discourage the baker bigot from following his religious beliefs — even when such following was illegal.

“Follow me a little further now: The Colorado Commission’s DECISION (which SCOTUS reversed!) was deemed ‘correct’ under the controlling laws and U.S. Constitution, but INCORRECT (and therefore overruled) because of a ‘MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE’–the comments about slavery and holocaust. Those comments were ‘DICTUM.’ In terms of legal appeal law, cases cannot (ever) be reversed because of incorrect DICTUM. ‘Dictum’, simplified, means expressions in judicial decisions which have nothing to do with the ‘ratio decidendi’ (the true legal basis) for the decision. The Colorado commission made the ‘correct decision,’ says our SCOTUS, but said (totally irrelevant from legal standpoint) other things when they called the baker what he was — a bigot (likening him to those he resembled—e.g. those who would defend slavery or condone the genocide of Jews.) Quite incidentally– the ‘dictum’ was in my opinion right on the money (correct). Bigots are bigots whether they’re disrespecting (or killing) slaves, Jews or LGBT minorities.

“With the double whammy of Citizens United and now The Masterpiece Cake caper, our neo-conservative GOP-puppet Supreme Court has made it clear that the only element in our culture currently entitled to equal protection under the law is . . . currency itself.

https://www.greensboro.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/counterpoint-u-s-supreme-court-of-cash-clowns/article_566cbc6a-9960-5c0a-b330-f82f53847a70.html

June 9

1827 – Birth of Frances Miles Finch, member of the Court of Appeals of New York State – corporate charters are revocable

The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in People v. North River Sugar Refining Co., [121 N.Y. 582, 608, 24 N.E. 834, 1890] that the company’s participation in the sugar trust violated the terms of its state charter or license. At the time, people believed that when a corporation exceeded or abused its power and such abuse harms the public welfare, legislatures should revoke the corporation’s charter and dissolve the corporation.

Writing for the majority in support of charter revocation and dissolution of the company, Judge Finch stated, “[t]he life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen. . .”

2021 – “The Unofficial History of America” article posted online

“The official history of America is one every kid knows. It’s a story of fierce individualism and heroic personal sacrifice in the service of a dream. A story of hungry settlers carving a home out of the wilderness. A story of a revolution, beating back British imperialism and launching a new colony into the industrial age on its own terms…

“The unofficial story of America is quite different. It begins the same way — in the revolutionary cauldron of colonial America — but then it takes a turn. A bit player in the official story becomes critically important. This player turns out to be not only the provocateur of the revolution, but in a sense its saboteur.

“The corporation.”

https://www.adbusters.org/full-articles/the-unofficial-history-of-america

June 10

1932 – Speech by Louis McFadden (R-Pa), Chair of the U.S. House Banking and Currency Committee on the Floor of Congress

“The Federal Reserve (Banks) are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen…What is needed here is a return to the Constitution of the United States. We need to have a complete divorce of Bank and State. The old struggle that was fought out here in Jackson’s day must be fought over again… The Federal Reserve Act should be repealed and the Federal Reserve Banks, having violated their charters, should be liquidated immediately.”

1933 – Birth of F. Lee Bailey, famous American criminal defense attorney

“Can any of you seriously say the Bill of Rights could get through Congress today? It wouldn’t even get out of committee.”

2020 – Iowa Quietly Passes its Third Ag-Gag Bill After Constitutional Challenges

 “Iowa isn’t alone in using legislation to criminalize animal rights activism and whistleblowing. For more than a decade, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that links industry lobbyists with state lawmakers, has promoted a model ag-gag bill. More than two dozen states have introduced versions of the bill, and in half a dozen states, they remain law.”

https://theintercept.com/2020/06/10/iowa-animal-rights-crime-ag-gag-law/

June 11

1880 – Birth of Jeannette Rankin, first Congresswoman in the United States

“Establish democracy at home, based on human rights as superior to property rights!”

1923 – Kentucky Finance Corporation v. Paramount Auto Exchange Corporation [262 U.S. 544, 550]

U.S. Supreme Court declares, “a state has no more power to deny to corporations the equal protection of the law than it has to individual citizens.”

1961 – Death of Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Horn, on the fraud of creating electric regulatory commissions

“No shrewder piece of political humbuggery and downright fraud has ever been placed upon the statute books. It’s supposed to be legislation for the people. In fact, it’s legislation for the power oligarchy.”

2018 –  Supreme Court, in 5–4 Decision, Allows States to Purge Voters for Their Failure to Vote

“In a 5–4 decision handed down Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that states may purge voters from the rolls due to their failure to cast a ballot. The ruling will disproportionately disenfranchise minorities and veterans as well as low-income and disabled people. Because of this decision, it is now likely that thousands of Americans will show up to the polls in 2018 hoping to cast a ballot—only to be told that they have been purged from the rolls because they skipped the past few elections. It is a nightmare scenario for voting-rights advocates that may affect the outcome of many future elections as well as the 2018 midterm elections in Ohio.”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/supreme-court-greenlights-ohio-voter-purges-in-husted-v-randolph.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_ru

2020 – “Let’s explore what fascism is about” – posted letter to editor

“To summarize, fascism is the blending of corporate power with authoritarian powers of the state to accomplish mutually beneficial ends of a political elite and large, powerful corporations. This is important to understanding governance in the U.S. today.”

https://www.union-bulletin.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/let-s-explore-what-fascism-is-about/article_d7de85a0-3a39-57ba-8a4d-b0aa1d5eb707.html

June 12

1953 – Birth of Dale Schultz, 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader

In 2013, before retiring rather than facing a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity, he said:

“When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money.”

1972 – Death of Saul Alinsky, community organizer

“America’s corporations are a spiritual slum, and their arrogance is the major threat to our future as a free society.”  Rules for Radicals, p. 183

2018 –  “Ohio’s voter purge may be legal, but it’s also voter suppression” published article

“But the ruling and the policy itself raise an old question on voting laws: What problem was Ohio trying to solve?…

“But the reason for Ohio’s policy can be found in those 7,500 — as well as the 144,000 people a 2016 Reuters study found were purged in Ohio’s three largest counties. In those locales, neighborhoods with more poor, African-Americans were hit the hardest. ‘Voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods,’ the study found…

“Simply put, the policy was a different way to execute an old GOP strategy: Give yourself a better chance to win elections by making it harder for your opponent’s supporters to vote.” Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article212956374.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 30 – June 5

May 30

1854 – Passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act

The Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Under popular sovereignty, the citizens of each territory, rather than Congress, would determine whether or not slavery would be allowed.

The Act effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise and led to massive bloodshed in Kansas as both pro- and anti-slavery supporters, including the abolitionist leader John Brown, descended on the state to influence the electoral outcome. The series of armed conflicts were known as “Bleeding Kansas”.

2003 – Article published this month “How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy” by Kimberly French

“In 1995 [Ward] Morehouse and Richard Grossman cofounded a think tank called the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), a project of CIPA. They invited a dozen fellow activists to join them. Their primary tool has been weekend retreats they call rethinks, short for Rethinking Corporations, Rethinking Democracy. The workshops bring together twenty to twenty-five activists who live near each other or work on similar issues. Over the past decade, POCLAD has conducted several hundred of the retreats all over the country and is now training others to lead them.

“Morehouse and Grossman never set out to become experts on corporate history and law. But they have concluded that, to effect any lasting change, that is where activists must focus their energy.

“Morehouse calls movements that simply ask corporations to behave better, such as socially responsible investing, social auditing, business ethics, or wise use, accommodations to corporate power. ‘It’s not . . . ‘good corporate citizenship’ that sovereign people must seek. Those phrases are contradictions in terms and diversions from the public’s central task to become unified enough to exert citizen authority over the creation, structure, and functioning of all business enterprises,’ Morehouse and Grossman write in the POCLAD anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy.”

http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2003/BWA_2003_MAY.html

2019 – Online posting, “FOOD FREEDOM” about corporate agribusiness

These same interests, helped by certain banks and dummy farm organizations, launched the “Right to farm” Constitutional Amendment 1, which in August 2014 asked voters to guarantee the right of Missouri citizens to engage in “agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed.”  Seeing the coming train wreck in Europe, Big Money launched a national campaign to keep the system rigged in their favor for all time.  Now here’s the rest of the story:

“Corporate agriculture sought to carve out constitutional protection for one special industry – its own.  It’s important to note that the ‘Right to Farm’ scam didn’t start in Missouri.  It’s part of a coordinated, nationwide effort by Big Ag and the administrative Deep State, to give a free pass to corporate agriculture.  ‘Get Big or get out!’ has been the corporatist policy since the earliest days of Allen Dulles.  

May 31

1904 – Terre Haute & I.R. Co. v. Indiana [194 U.S. 579, 589] Supreme Court decision

The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them. The railroad corporation invoked the 14th Amendment in its defense.  http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/194/579.html

June 1

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.”

June 2

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.

1924 – Congress Enacts the Indian Citizenship Act

The Act “granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. The right to vote, however, was governed by state law; until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting. In a WPA interview from the 1930s, Henry Mitchell describes the attitude toward Native Americans in Maine, one of the last states to comply with the Indian Citizenship Act.”

https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/june-02/

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.”

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/06/02/corporations-are-not-people-period

2020 – “The Revolution Will Not Be Branded” posted article

“While it seems major corporations didn’t learn the lesson of Kendall Jenner solving racism with a can of Pepsi, I’m not sure we did either. The legal enshrinement of corporate personhood since the Citizens United case in 2010 has extended to social-media accounts in which brands increasingly act like people (Steak-umm pounding 99 theses on the danger of misinformation during a pandemic), and in turn, we’ve come to expect that of them. Individual celebrities of various levels of repute act like their own corporations, lifting social-justice memes or language in a way that’s impossible to separate from their public personas — David Guetta doing a dance remix of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech or Gwyneth Paltrow posting Black Lives Matter on both her personal account and Goop’s. The personal is political is an opportunity for brand awareness.”

https://www.vulture.com/2020/06/the-revolution-will-not-be-branded.html

June 3

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.”

https://newrepublic.com/article/113294/how-corporations-hijacked-first-amendment-evade-regulation

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.”

June 4

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” 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…

https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Pushback-Against-Endin-by-Greg-Coleridge-Change_Corporate-Constitutional-Rights_Corporate-Courts_Corporate-Personhood-180604-680.html?platform=hootsuite

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/

2018 – Monsanto Relied on These ‘Partners’ to Attack Top Cancer Scientists

A result of corporations having First Amendment “free speech” rights:

“This fact sheet describes the contents of Monsanto’s confidential public relations plan to discredit the World Health Organization’s cancer research unit, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in order to protect the reputation of Roundup weedkiller. In March 2015, the international group of experts on the IARC panel judged glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, to be probably carcinogenic to humans.”

2020 – “Verizon and AT&T Partner With Pro-Police Militarization Lobbying Group” posted article

“Some members of Congress have recently renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation to repeal or amend the 1033 program. Since March 2019, a bipartisan bill to place restrictions on the program, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, has been pending in Congress, but the House Armed Services Committee to which it has been referred has yet to act on it. The committee is chaired by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wa.), a top recipient of campaign funding from the defense industry, which benefits from sales made under the 1033 program. “

2020 – “Everyone Knows Money Influences Politics … Except Scientists” posted article

“This is not a straightforward or uplifting story, I know. Tracing the path of rot that money eats through Congress isn’t as easy as diagnosing a fractured bone or a pneumonia-ridden lung. Instead, experience tells us the rot exists, but evidence can’t pin it down. Attempting to prove it’s real can feel futile. Failing to prove it can feel like madness. It’s more like having chronic fatigue syndrome, a disease that leaves your body wrecked while doctors argue over whether it’s all in your head. The Affordable Care Act gave McKay access to evidence that suggests money influences politics. But it also presented a new challenge: Does evidence matter when it tells us something we’d already thought was true?”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 23 – 29

May 23

1838 – U.S. troops begin forced removal of Cherokees from their land

“On December 29, 1835, chieftain Major Ridge and his faction , only a minority of Cherokees – signed The Treaty of Removal, ceding all of their territory east of the Mississippi river for 5 million and pledging to move within two years. However, by the May 23rd, 1838 deadline, few Cherokees had actually evacuated. As a result, the United States Army forcibly removed the remaining Cherokees in what would later be referred to as the “Trail of Tears.’ In response, the Cherokee Council executed chieftain Ridge as a traitor. He was not the only casualty; by the end of the removal, 4,000 Cherokees lost their lives. This event is significant both in its demographic consequences, and the nation’s general disregard for Native American welfare.” https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/701

1933 – Articles of impeachment presented in the U.S. House of Representatives against the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Officers and Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, the US Secretary of Treasury and others for their collusion in causing the Great Depression

US Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, introduced the Articles of Impeachment. McFadden stated,

“The Great Depression was not accidental; it was a carefully contrived occurrence… bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here, so that they might emerge as rulers of us all.

“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.  I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks.  Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions.  They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders, which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers….The truth is, the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly, which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”

1978 – Marshall v. Barlow [436 U.S. 307] Supreme Court decision – corporations are protected by 4th Amendment

The Court ruled that corporations have the 4th Amendment right to require the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to produce a warrant to check for safety violations.

2018 – “America’s Version of Capitalism Is Incompatible With Democracy” posted article

“The downside risks of undermining judicial independence are considerable; but so are those of allowing a reactionary Supreme Court to thwart progressive economic change (a future Democratic government may be spared a global depression, but it will be confronted with a global ecological crisis that can’t be effectively addressed absent redistributive and regulatory reforms that Neil Gorsuch won’t like).”

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/05/americas-brand-of-capitalism-is-incompatible-with-democracy.html

May 24

1941 – Birth of George Lakoff, Professor, cognitive linguist, author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”

“[There is much that is unframed by the general public that needs to be framed…runaway wealth to the wealthy…runaway climate change…[and] runaway privatization of public resources. But there is an important framing that is beginning to catch on: The Constitution applies only to human beings. Conceptual metaphors have no legal standing.”

1976 – Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976) Supreme Court decision – advertising is free speech

The Court declared unconstitutional a Virginia law that prohibited price advertising of prescription drug. The Supreme Court protects commercial speech. Advertising is now free speech.

1999 –  Supreme Court affirms corporate 5th and 14th Amendment rights

A corporation wanted to develop a residential complex on ocean front property in Monterey, California. Public officials rejected the application based on various laws protecting the human and natural community…and in response to wide public pressure. The corporation eventually sold the land to the state of California for a profit. It then sued Monterey for violating its “corporate rights” under the Takings, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the corporation on the first two claims and awarded it damages of $1.45 million paid from city funds.

The case was Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd. v. City of Monterey, 95F.3d 1422 (9th Cir. 1996), aff’d, 526 U.S. 687

May 25

1787 – US Constitutional Convention convenes

Convention delegates (all white, male, property-owners) had originally come together merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. Constitution. Merchants opposed the powers of individual states under the Articles to define the terms of trade. The new Constitution transferred state powers regarding trade to the federal level – creating what many believed was the template for modern-day so-called trade agreements that seek to transfer power regarding trade from the federal level to the international level.

The Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Convention did not include the Bill of Rights, which later became the first 10 Amendments.  Numerous other anti-democratic provisions of this Constitution are outlined at http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html

2004 – Founding of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives at U.S. Conference of Democratic Workplaces in Minneapolis

“The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Our membership also includes democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives.  In 2014, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary, with over 100 member workplaces across the country that are building a dynamic movement for democratic worker-ownership.

“Our mission is to create a thriving cooperative movement through the development of stable and empowering jobs and worker-ownership. We advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development…Our 100+ (and growing!) worker cooperative and democratic workplace members represent over 1600 individual worker-owners.”  https://www.usworker.coop/about

May 26

1894 – Moran v. Sturges [154, U.S. 256] Supreme Court decision

The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them.

1924 –Immigration Act enacted 

Also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, the law created an immigration quota system based on national origin favoring “Nordics” over the “inferior” races of Asia & Southern and Eastern Europe.  Immigration of Africans was severely restricted. Arabs and Asians were banned outright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

2020 – “HOW ICE IS USING PRIVATE CONTRACTORS TO DODGE LOCAL DEMOCRACY” posted article

“The agency is pursuing contracts with private detention providers to circumvent state and local efforts to curtail and regulate immigrant detention….

“In the face of congressional inaction on immigration, many immigrants’ rights advocates have shifted their focus locally: to state, county, and municipal policymakers who can intervene directly in their jurisdictions to curtail ICE detention.

“In response, the agency is creating a new playbook. It’s taking state and local efforts to block or limit its detention operations less as defeats than as temporary hiccups that it can overcome by pursuing direct contracts with its favored private providers. In some cases, ICE is combining this with finding jurisdictions with friendlier officials.”

May 27

1895 – Sherman Antitrust Act intended to break up corporate monopolies used to break up labor strikes

Passed in 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act empowered the federal government to break up any corporation that prohibited economic competition. While its most widely notable use was the break up of the Standard Oil corporation in 1911, the Act was used almost exclusively for more than a decade after its passage against labor unions, which were deemed by the pro-big business courts as illegal combinations. The Supreme Court ruled in In re Debs 158 US 564 (1895) on this day that the Act could be used against interstate labor strikes (the railway strike of 1894 in this instance) because they were restraining trade.

1964 – Death of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian nationalist leader and first Prime Minister

“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”

1998 – Retired judge seeks to revoke the charters of tobacco corporations

Retired Alabama Judge William Wynn filed court documents (called a writ of quo warranto) to revoke the charters of five tobacco corporations and, therefore, should be dissolved. Acting as a private citizen, Wynn claims that Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, The Liggett Group, and Lorillard Corporations violated various long-standing state laws, including contributing to the dependency of a minor, unlawful distribution of material harmful to a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, assault in the third degree, recklessly endangering another, deceptive business practice, and causing the delinquency of a child.

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama but was transferred to federal court and then back again to the Circuit Court, where it was dismissed with no opinion provided for its dismissal. Both the governor and attorney general had close links to the tobacco industry.

The original case citation is William Wynn, ex. rel., v. Philip Morris, Inc. et al. 51 F. Supp. 2d 1232 (N.D. Ala. 1999). The federal court citation is 51 F.Supp.2d 1232     

2019 – Online posting, “The Only Solution to America’s Political Crisis” by Paul Street

“’If we’re serious about popular sovereignty, we’ll stick around to “dismantle the corporate state’”

“If we, the people, are serious about stopping Trump, we’ll take to the streets en masse to engage in substantial and unrelenting civil disobedience. If we are serious about democracy beyond just the removal of a single noxious ogre, we won’t go home just because a narrow-spectrum, big money, major media candidate-centered election is being held on its regular, absurdly time-staggered, once-every-1,460-days schedule. We won’t go home even if Trump loses and agrees to leave without incident. If we’re serious about popular sovereignty, we’ll stick around to “dismantle the corporate state” (Chris Hedges) that birthed both Trump and the inauthentic opposition party (the neoliberal era Democrats), along with so much else that has long outlived its expiration date (i.e., the fossil fuel industry and the Pentagon system).”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/05/27/only-solution-americas-political-crisis

May 28

1830 – Congress passes Indian Removal Act

Indigenous communities are forced from their homelands. Over 10 years, 100,000 native children and adults march thousands of miles west into unknown arid territory in Oklahoma. Fifteen thousand people do not survive the journey. However, over 25 million acres of land is made available for white settlers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

1892 – Sierra Club founded – establishes “Corporate Accountability Committee” in 1990’s

One of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the nation, the Club established a “Corporate Accountability Committee” in the 1990s. The Committee looked beyond the behavior of individual corporations and toward the underlying constitutional rules (i.e. Supreme Court decisions) that give them their power. Through talks and workshops, the Committee also explored democratic strategies in response to growing corporate rule, specifically revoking corporate charters. Ruth Caplan and Jim Price were among the Committees initiators.  

http://vault.sierraclub.org/planet/200111/investing.asp

2014 – Death of Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,

of things unknown, but longed for still,

and his tune is heard on the distant hill,

for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

From:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

May 29

1911 – United States v. American Tobacco Co [221 U.S. 106] Supreme Court decision

The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them. The Court held that the corporation engaged in a restraint of trade and attempted to monopolize the business of tobacco in interstate commerce, a prohibition of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The company was split into 4 competitors

2004 – Death of Archibald Cox, Solicitor General under President Kennedy and Watergate Special Prosecutor – on Supreme Court power

The power of the U.S. Supreme Court is “unique in judicial history…no other country has given its courts such extraordinary power.”

From The Court and the Constitution, 1987, p 44-45.

2020 – “‘Failed State’ Status Here We Come?” posted article

“In a successful state, people thoughtfully identify the problems they share in common and democratically debate a variety of possible solutions. But this democratic dialogue doesn’t just happen. Democratic dialogues only unfold effectively and efficiently when people actually share common problems…

“That commonality has been disappearing in the United States over the past half-century. The culprit? Rising economic inequality…

“On paper, that shouldn’t matter. Our democracy has many more average-income than high-income people. Our government’s priorities ought to reflect the concerns average-income people share. But the wealthy in the United States don’t just have lots more wealth than everyone else. They have lots more power, and that power works to ensure that government addresses their problems, not ours.”

2020 – “Ending the Monetary Pandemic” by Greg Coleridge

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and worsened the inherent crises in our medical and economic system. The same is true of our monetary system, which in its own right is as invisible, harmful and widespread as the virus, but was unjust, unsustainable and undemocratic long before the first cough, sneeze, or breath from a coronavirus-infected person occurred on US shores.

“The Federal Reserve System, our nation’s central bank, composed of 12 Regional Reserve Banks, creates money out of thin air — as do all commercial banks across the country…

“Let this sink in. Congress can only literally nickel and dime the issue of money creation. Our government currently cannot create money as an asset – unable to use one of its three constitutional financial tools to respond to our unprecedented economic crisis that is decimating individuals, small business, local and state governments, and the larger economy.  The creation and distribution of money by banks is the most economic and democratically damaging form of privatization/corporatization in our society.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 16 – 22

May 16

1918 – Congress passes Sedition Act to suppress wartime dissent

The law extended the Espionage Act of 1917 by further stifling the expression of free speech. It outlawed the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government – including the U.S. flag, armed forces and war effort in Europe and at home. Those convicted under the act generally received sentences of imprisonment or from five to 20 years.

2010 – March of the Monahans cross-country walk for Democracy begins

Laird and Robin Monahan left San Francisco in their trek across America to educate people and protest the January 21st Citizen United Supreme Court decision. This ruling by five unelected Justices, invalidated decades of democratically-passed campaign finance legislation by federal and state legislators and upheld by previous Supreme Court rulings.

The brothers from Minnesota engaged directly with people in communities across the nation advocating for a Constitutional amendment to end corporate “personhood” and money defined as free speech. They marched 3072 miles in 158 days, ending their “Walk Across America for Democracy” by crossing the Potomac River into Washington, DC, rallying with supporters in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building on October 20.

2014 – Premiere of “Sound from the Bench,” composed by Ted Hearne, Pulitzer Prize runner up

“Sound From the Bench is a reaction to Jena Osman’s incredible book ‘Corporate Relations,’ a collection of poems that follows the historical trajectory of corporate personhood in the United States. The five movements combine language taken from landmark Supreme Court Cases with words from ventriloquism textbook.” http://www.tedhearne.com/works/sound-from-the-bench

https://www.postandcourier.com/features/composer-ted-hearne-pulitzer-runner-up-relies-on-charleston-collaborators/article_56ba25fc-47fa-11e8-86e3-fb4d7355968a.html

2018 – “Why Inverse Condemnation Is One of the Most American Things We Do” posted article

“The legal principle of Inverse Condemnation is the people’s right to enforce the constitutional providence of Eminent Domain—that is, for just compensation. Inverse Condemnation is the legal right of the private property owner whose property has been destroyed under authority of the government. Without inverse condemnation, the people have no pathway to enforce their constitutional property rights. By taking away every private property owner’s ability to enforce their constitutional Eminent Domain rights, the State blesses and authorizes multi-billion dollar corporations’ actions damaging private property without just compensation. This includes weakening those constitutional rights in the name of “energy market stability.

“Over the last five months, corporate executives from PG&E and SCE have been lobbying the Governor and California State Legislature to take away fire victims’ ability to enforce their constitutional, Eminent Domain rights in order to reduce their corporate liability for causing the 2017 fires. As shocking as it seems, the Governor and some legislators are listening.”

May 17

1954 – Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka [347 U.S. 483] Supreme Court decision

This landmark unanimous decision proclaimed that segregating public schools was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling invalidated the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Separate was no longer considered equal.

The decision was the product of a long campaign by civil rights organizations and activists. It was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement and served to inspire subsequent legal and social movement activism over the next decade.

2000 – Publication of “Labor Organizing and Freedom of Association” by Peter Kellman

“Freedom of speech plus freedom of assembly equals freedom of association. It works like this: a group of people want to form a corporation. They call a meeting (freedom of assembly) and discuss (freedom of speech) their options and decide they want corporate recognition. Then they send a representative to the state capital and file some papers. That’s it. Their corporation is recognized by the rest of the society. No cards are signed; no campaign is waged; no one gets fired; and no election. Just recognition. In this country forming a corporation is a protected activity. It is a right. Getting a corporation to recognize a union is not a right; it is not a protected activity…If we want to associate to organize, to exercise power, we need to change some fundamental relationships in our society.”

www.rachel.org/files/Rachels_Environment_Health_News_1765.pdf

2017 – “An Informed Public Threatens Those in Power, But Our Public Is No Threat” published article by CELDF

 “In many ways, the Trumpians are right on the money. Past movements in this country have all been about trying to morph the “America” that was set into stone by the white, wig-wearing new aristocrats of the 1780s. Those one-percenters who gathered in Philadelphia to write a new constitution so distrusted “we the people” that they created constitutional provisions elevating corporate commerce above democratic control, while diluting the authority of people to choose their own governments.

“In striving to make a new world, past movements had to untangle the “founding violence” that made women property, endorsed and protected slavery, and enshrined a centralized form of government that was very much about white privilege and the protection of those with property and wealth.

“We must do the same. But the first mountains to climb reside in our own heads. We must grapple with the fact that we don’t even know the scope of the problem that we face. Until we take time to figure that out, a new way of life will remain beyond our reach.”

http://inthesetimes.com/rural-america/entry/21151/informed-public-corporate-power-community-rights-democracy

May 18

1896 – Plessy v. Ferguson [163 U.S. 537] Supreme Court decision – “Separate is equal”

The Court ruled in this landmark decision that state laws enforcing separate accommodations by race are constitutional if the accommodations are equal. Black males effectively lost 14th Amendment rights (which by that time had been granted to corporations) and much access to the “white world.” The decision legalized “Jim Crow” laws.

Justice John Marshall Harlan was the lone dissenter, asserting “separate” was not “equal:” …”Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

1973 – Death of Jeannette Rankin, first women elected to U.S. Congress

“Establish democracy at home, based on human rights as superior to property rights!”

May 19

1925 – Birth of Malcolm X, minister, human rights activist and prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam

““There’s a reason why the corporate kleptocracy hasn’t permitted any cultural leaders to emerge over the last 50-plus years to compete with the state’s influence over a population that is forever striving to create a communal society built on self-determination and autonomous free expression — because such a population might thusly be inspired to operate in absolute contempt of hierarchy and to ultimately reject the corporate kleptocracy, forever refusing to ever again surrender its soul to a system that requires its obedient invisibility.”

2000 – Talk by Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principal, at End Corporate Dominance Conference, Portland, OR

“I’d like to introduce three realms of our work where these roots must play a critiquing and clarifying role if we are to celebrate true rather than false victories.

“The first realm is associated with how we take things in: how we listen, our habits of noticing, our care in reading and commenting. We can learn and we can teach only that for which our receptors are tuned…

“The second realm to which roots and rigor must be brought to bear is in the kind of strategies we design into our campaigns against corporate power. These strategies need to reflect an understanding of the current “rule of law” that puts We the People subordinate to the propertied few organized in their corporate forms, and they must reflect our commitment to reversing that law…

“The third realm to which we must bring critically fundamental thought and feeling relates to our vision of what is possible. For us to propose that people have the capacity for true, inclusive, democratic self-governance is to place ourselves within a worldview and set of assumptions wholly contradictory to the patriarchal worldview that brought us our present earthly and human predicament… Without the opportunity to effectively engage this conversation, people will flounder, will be highly skeptical that anything better is possible from us human beings.”

May 20

1806 – Birth of John Stuart Mill), English philosopher, political economist, feminist, and civil servant

“Was there ever domination that did not appear natural to those who possess it?”

1862 – Homestead Act signed by President Lincoln

“Fifty million acres of formerly indigenous land in the west having been violently invaded by US soldiers in violation of treaties is distributed by the government at low cost to white settlers only and 100 million acres of indigenous land are given for free to railroad developers.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

2004 – Posting of article “Abolish Corporate Personhood” by Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan

“Corporations are whatever those who have the power to define want them to be to maintain minority rule through corporations. As long as superhuman “corporate persons” have rights under the law, the vast majority of people have little or no effective voice in our political arena, which is why we see abolishing corporate personhood as so important to ending corporate rule and building a more democratic society. When the Constitution was written and corporations were part of the government, having duties to perform to the satisfaction of the people, the primary technique for enforcing minority rule was to establish that only a tiny percentage could qualify as “We the People” – in other words, that most people were subhuman. As different groups of people struggled to become persons under the law, the corporation acquired rights belonging to We the People and ultimately became superhuman, still maintaining an artificially elevated status for a small number of people….”

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/abolish-corporate-personhood/

2018 – Posted article, “FROM PITTSBURGH TO FLINT, THE DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF GIVING PRIVATE COMPANIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR AILING PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS”

”’Time and time again, Veolia is shirking responsibility when it comes to mismanaging these water systems,’ said Alissa Weinman, national campaign organizer for Corporate Accountability, which pointed to the industry’s failure to protect against lead in Flint and Pittsburgh back in 2016. According to Weinman, the growing number of cities that struggle to maintain their water systems are particularly vulnerable to the promises of private water companies. ‘Veolia is preying on cities that aren’t getting the federal investment they need to upkeep their systems.’”…

“As the Trump administration plan is being hashed out, more private companies will likely profit off public water systems. Yet when something goes wrong with their provision of basic services, the public has little recourse other than to end their contracts, according to Barlow. ‘It’s very hard to hold a private corporation accountable for this or any other kind of travesty,’ she said. “Governments make bad decisions too, but we can hold them accountable” by voting them out of office.”

https://theintercept.com/2018/05/20/pittsburgh-flint-veolia-privatization-public-water-systems-lead/

2019 – “When, If Ever, Should a Legislature Be Able to Enact a Law that it Knows (or Should Know) that Courts Today Would Invalidate?” posted article

“Governments should not refrain from enacting and seeking to enforce laws merely because “of the possibility that such laws might be deemed unconstitutional,” . . . [insofar as] sometimes the Supreme Court modifies or reverses existing doctrine, and . . . elected leaders are within their rights in passing and enforcing laws to give the Court a chance to do just that (emphasis added).”

“In sum, when legislatures enact laws that today are unenforceable, the legislatures are not necessarily wasting legislative resources or defying constitutional limits. Such laws, particularly when coupled with an appropriate trigger, might helpfully inform the work of other governmental actors and guide the resolution of constitutional issues.”

May 21

2012 – Baltimore City Council supports abolishing corporate personhood

The City Council of Baltimore passed a resolution in favor of a constitutional amendment ending the doctrine that corporations should be deemed legal persons.

2018 – Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits

“The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allowing employers to keep employees from joining together in wage and hour disputes could have a dramatic and lasting impact on the American workforce.

“In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said arbitration agreements that bar employees from joining together in arbitration or a class-action lawsuit to settle labor disputes are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act…

“Worker rights advocates denounced the decision, fearing it will make it harder for employees to sue their employers for lost wages.

“They also warned the ruling will likely lead to more businesses placing “take it or leave it” clauses in their contracts, meaning people will have to waive their right to join a class-lawsuit before they can even get a job.”

2018 – “The Coming Collapse” published article by Chris Hedges

“The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.”

May 22

1898 – Death of Edward Bellamy, on private vs public power in “Looking Backward”

“Looking Backward” was a utopian novel written in 1888 set in the year 2000. From the book: “The records of the period show that the outcry against the concentration of capital was furious. Men believed that it threatened society with a form of tyranny more abhorrent than it had ever endured. The believed that the great corporations were preparing for them the yoke of a baser servitude than had ever been imposed on the race, servitude not to men but to soulless machines incapable of any motive but insatiable greed. Looking back, we cannot wonder at their desperation, for certainly humanity was never confronted with a fate more sordid and hideous than would have be the era of corporate tyranny which they anticipated.”                                                      

From the book’s introduction by Professor W.J. Miller: “Reading Bellamy, history buffs readily recognize Nationalist principles in twentieth-century social legislation. One typical instance of a Bellamy principle that bore fruit: He had urged the government to set up federal corporations to discover whether non-profit industries could serve humanity better than private companies did. Along these lines the New Deal created the Tennessee Valley Authority. One of its functions was to serve as a ‘yardstick,’ to measure actual costs of generating electricity against the prices charged by utilities run for profit.”

1967 – Death of Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist

“Democracy will not come today, this year, nor ever, through compromise and fear.”   

1989 – Former Vice President Dan Quayle on freedom and democracy

“I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.”

2018 – Posted article, “Epic Distortion: Neil Gorsuch’s ruling on mandatory arbitration clauses doesn’t reflect the reality of American labor relations”

“In 2013, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a widely condemned opinion holding that federal law allows corporations to insulate themselves from antitrust suits by forcing potential litigants into arbitration, shielding their monopolies from judicial scrutiny. Scalia did not pretend that his ruling helped anybody except monopolists—and in dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wryly commended his candor. Thanks to that ruling, she wrote, ‘the monopolist gets to use its monopoly power” to deprive “its victims of all legal recourse.’ The upshot, she explained, is ‘admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad.’

“On Monday, Justice Neil Gorsuch issued a sequel to Scalia’s infamous decision that took the opposite rhetorical tack. Writing for the majority in the Supreme Court’s 5–4 ruling in Epic Systems v. Lewis, Gorsuch presented mandatory arbitration clauses—which prevent employees from suing employers collectively in court—as genuine ‘agreements’ that workers enter into freely and may even favor. This framing is wrong and dishonest. It ignores the reality of labor conditions, falsely implying that workers have real bargaining power to reject arbitration clauses. And it seems to rest on a discredited theory of economic freedom that underpins the Supreme Court’s most notorious pre–New Deal decisions, rulings that purported to safeguard workers’ liberty while undermining their ability to protect their own rights.”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/05/neil-gorsuchs-ruling-in-epic-systems-v-lewis-harkens-back-to-the-supreme-courts-lochner-era.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 9 – 15

May 9

2021 – Mother’s Day

Anna Jarvis held the first “Mother’s Day” in 1908, a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to address public health issues.

Although Jarvis successfully founded Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Source: Wikipedia.

May 10

1823 – Birth of John Sherman, US Senator of Ohio on Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890

The federal law trumped much stronger anti-trust laws that had already been passed by many states.

His words in support of the Act: “[P]eople are feeling the power and grasp of these combinations, and are demanding of every State Legislature and of Congress a remedy for this evil, only grown into huge proportions in recent times… You must heed their appeal, or be ready for the socialist, the communist and the nihilist.”

1886 – Yick Wo v. Hopkins [118 U.S 356] Supreme Court decision

The Court ruled that aliens (persons living in the U.S. who are not citizens) are protected by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment

1886 – Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad [118 U.S. 394] – corporations first granted corporate “rights”

“The Court does not wish to hear argument on the question of whether the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.”

This statement by the Court before the hearing meant “corporations” were included in the word “person” in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case was ultimately decided on other grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court reiterated and reinforced the Santa Clara “corporate personhood” ruling in more than twenty different cases.

May 11

1935 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA)

The REA was created to supply electricity to rural areas of the country that private electricity corporations ignored since it wasn’t profitable. Neighbors joined together in rural areas to create cooperatives that borrowed money from the REA to build electrical systems.            

As late as the mid-1930s, nine out of 10 rural homes were without electric service. By the mid-1950’s, more than 90% of U.S. farms had electricity. About 99% of our nation’s farms today have electricity thanks to locally owned rural electric cooperatives sparked by REA loans.

May 12

1937 – Birth of comedian George Carlin

Carlin on the American Dream:

“Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have owners! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

“They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want.  Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want:  They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests…

“It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

http://shoqvalue.com/george-carlin-on-the-american-dream-with-transcript/

1944 – Birth of Chris Patten, British politician — on democracy

“In a democracy everybody has the right to be represented, including the jerks.”

2018 – “Can we blame the bankers?” posted article

“I boldly asserted that bankers (meaning the private finance sector) can be blamed for the Great Financial Crisis and for the economic policies implemented after the crisis…

“But bankers went further. Not only did they want to be bailed out; they also wanted the systemic nature of the global, self-regulating financial system of laissez faire to be sustained and maintained. After the devastation of the crisis, there was public and political resistance to “business as usual”. The US Congress’s Volcker ‘rule’ – that banks could not use depositors’ funds for speculative bets on their own account, was in the banks’ firing line. With time and large sums of money, Volcker’s and the Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms were to be unwound. (According to Reuters, the financial sector spent $2 billion on political activity from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016, including $1.2 billion in campaign contributions – more than twice the amount given by any other business sector, according to the study from Americans for Financial Reform. That works out to $3.7 million per member of Congress and is the most ever tracked by the group, which analysed spending data going back to 1990.)”

2020 – “The Future is Public: Towards Democratic Ownership of Public Services” posted article

“Resistance to privatisation has turned into a powerful force for change. (Re)municipalisation refers to the reclaiming of public ownership of services as well as the creation of new public services. In recent years, our research has identified more than 1,400 successful (re)municipalisation cases involving more than 2,400 cities in 58 countries around the world…

“The Covid-19 crisis has made clear the disastrous effects of years of austerity, social security cuts, and public service privatisation. But it has also demonstrated that public services and the people who operate them are truly the foundation of healthy and resilient societies. As privatisation fails, a growing international movement is choosing (re)municipalisation as a key tool for redefining public ownership for the 21st century.”

May 13

1819 – Birth of Walt Whitman, American poet

“Did you … suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction … in religion, literature, colleges and schools: Democracy in all public and private life.”

2020 – “House Democrats’ relief package would give Washington lobbying giants access to small business aid” posted article

“House Democrats’ newest coronavirus relief proposal would allow influential Washington lobbying groups — funded by deep-pocketed corporations — to access forgivable small business loans.

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled Democrats’ $3 trillion relief package Tuesday. The bill would provide nearly $1 trillion in relief to states, cities and tribal governments and authorize a second round of direct payments to American families. But buried in the 1,815-page bill is a provision that allows trade associations, unions and 501(c)(4)s, not just charities, to access coveted small business loans.”

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2020/05/democrats-relief-package-washington-lobbying/

[Note: Despite lobbying from corporate interests, this provision was removed from the HEROES Act before it was passed in late 2020, due to massive public pressure ]

May 14

1940 – Death of Emma Goldman, anarchist and feminist

“Democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world.”  

“The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul.”

2012 – “Colonized by Corporations” article by Chris Hedges published

“We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense…

“A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process…”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/colonized_by_corporations_20120514

May 15

1911 – Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States [221 U.S. 1] Supreme Court decision

The Court ruled that the petroleum giant was engaged in monopolistic practices and ordered that the company be broken up into 34 separate oil companies that would compete with one another. Standard Oil Corporation had previously escaped attempts to revoke its corporate charter by the Republican Attorney General in its original home state of Ohio for forming a trust, a violation of its charter or license. Standard Oil subsequently left Ohio for New Jersey where the laws were more corporate friendly. 

Justice John Marshall Harlan concurred in the result but dissented claiming it was not definitive:

“Taking this language, in connection with other parts of the opinion, the subsidiary companies are thus, in effect, informed—unwisely, I think—that although the New Jersey corporation, being and illegal combination, must go out of existence, they may join in an agreement to restrain commerce among the states if such restraint be not ‘undue’…

“All who recall the condition of the country in 1890 will remember that there was everywhere, among the people generally, a deep feeling of unrest. The nation had been rid of human slavery, fortunately, as all now feel, but the conviction was universal that the country was in real danger from another kind of slavery sought to be fastened on the American people; namely, the slavery that would result from aggregations of capital in the hands of a few individuals and corporations controlling, for their own profit and advantage exclusively, the entire business of the country, including the production and sale of the necessaries of life. Such a danger was thought to be then imminent, and all felt that it must be met firmly and by such statutory regulations as would adequately protect the people against oppression and wrong. Congress, therefore, took up the matter and gave the whole subject the fullest consideration.”

2015 – “Oldest Person in the World Turns 129″ Mike Ferner and Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principals, published this month

“The ins and outs of this story…make two things perfectly clear: 1) the conflict between public and private interests has been ongoing since the nation was founded and 2) ‘The law’ is not something handed to us on stone tablets, but is an evolving interpretation serving the interests of those who have the power to make it stick.

“That’s why this democracy business is so damn important.”  http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2015/BWA_2015_May.html

2020 – “HEROES ACT: Corporations Get Bailed Out, We Get Shut Out” posted online

“Public outrage over big banks being bailed out with public funds while homeowners were left to drown in debt triggered both the Occupy and Tea Party movements during the financial crisis of the 1980’s.

“Now it’s the big banks and other corporations and the rich who are not only being bailed out, but also being lavished with tax breaks, shielded by regulatory reductions and profiting in numerous other ways under the cover of COVID-19 and the economic crisis.

“Meanwhile, the various stimulus bills passed by Congress have not met the ongoing basic needs of people, especially the most vulnerable.

“Recent corporate and super rich glaring grabs of profits and power (way too many to include in a single email) include these Sickenly Seven examples:…”

https://www.movetoamend.org/heroes_act_corporations_get_bailed_out

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 2 – 8

May 2

2000 – “Gender and Global Corporatization” by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick published this month in Spring issue of Peace & Freedom, a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

May 3

2002 – “The End of Agribusiness: Dismantling the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule:” by Dave Henson, Director of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) and POCLAD principal, published this month

“However, an honest assessment of the overall effectiveness of this strategy of regulating corporate harms must conclude that it is a limited strategy and that it has ultimately licensed an unsustainable and unacceptable level of ecological destruction and marginalized our most fundamental concerns. We have been fighting corporate assaults against nature timber harvest plan by timber harvest plan; factory farm by factory farm; dying stream by dying stream. We are constantly being called to fight against new and more virulent crises. If we win one, there is little time to celebrate because there are many more crises created by corporate agribusiness every day. Corporations have grown and become far more powerful in this regulatory environment. In short, corporations have successfully framed both the arena of struggle and the terms of the debate, and have limited us to incremental compromises…

“What happens when we try to reassert democratic, public control over major economic decisions?… Corporate attorneys (and they are plentiful) respond with legal defenses based on the fiction that a corporation is a legal “person” in terms of constitutional protections. They use the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to assert that states, counties, and cities have no authority to restrict interstate and transnational commerce. They assert for the corporation the property rights, due process, and equal protection guarantees meant in the Constitution for real, human persons…

“To win this fight… we must do three kinds of activism at once.

1. Fight Fires…

2. Create Alternatives…

3. Dismantle the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule…

http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2002/BWA_2002_MAY.html

2016 – Pennsylvania Township passes law legalizing direct action against corporate frack wastewater injection well

From a press release

“Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

“If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

May 4

1886 – Haymarket Massacre

What began as a peaceful labor demonstration at Haymarket Square in Chicago in support of workers striking for an eight-hour workday, the day after police killed one and injured several workers, turned violent after a bomb was thrown at police. The blast and resulting gunfire killed several police officers and civilians, as well as injuring others.

The internationally publicized trial that resulted in the conviction of eight anarchists, seven of whom were sentenced to death, was highly prejudiced toward the defendants. No evidence was ever presented linking any of them to throwing the bomb.

The event sparked the origins of International Workers’ Day – a celebration of solidarity and the contributions laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on May 1 (May Day).

Despite its U.S. origins, “Labor Day” is officially celebrated in the U.S. in September. This was an attempt to culturally separate U.S. workers and workers movements from those internationally. May Day is growing in in significance in the U.S. every year, with greater numbers of planned educational and mass action events by groups representing workers, immigrants and others calling for justice.

2014 – Launch of Cooperation Jackson

Cooperation Jackson is an emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership.

Our vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution.

Cooperation Jackson’s basic theory of change is centered on the position that organizing and empowering the structurally under and unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from Black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.

http://www.cooperationjackson.org/intro/

2020 – “JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Fossil Fuel Industry Get Bailed Out Under Fed’s ‘Main Street’ Lending Program”

Americans need to sit up and pay attention to what’s going on here because the U.S. Treasury has committed $75 billion of taxpayers’ money to support this program under the illusion that it’s going to mom and pop operations on a typical Main Street in America. That initial $75 billion will be levered up to $750 billion under the Fed’s ability to create money out of thin air, with taxpayers eating the first $75 billion of losses. Once the loans are originated by a lender, they will then be bought up by a Fed-created Special Purpose Vehicle, thus removing bad loans from the balance sheets of banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and the like.  The banks will only have to retain 5 percent of the exposure.”

[Note: The FIRE – Finance, Insurance and Real Estate – interest group is #1 in political campaign contributions to Congress, https://www.opensecrets.org/industries ]

2020 – “Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers” posted article

“The present situation, however, hasn’t stopped military-industrial complex requests for bailouts. The National Defense Industrial Association, a trade group for the arms industry, typically asked the Pentagon to speed up contracts and awards for $160 billion in unobligated Department of Defense funds to its companies, which will involve pushing money out the door without even the most modest level of due diligence.

“Boeing, the Pentagon’s second biggest contractor, received $26.3 billion last year. Now, that company has asked for $60 billion in government support. And you undoubtedly won’t be surprised to learn that Congress has already provided Boeing with some of that desired money in its recent bailout legislation. According to the Washington Post, $17 billion was carved out in that deal for companies “critical to maintaining national security” (with Boeing in particular in mind).”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/04/beware-pentagons-pandemic-profiteers

May 5

1882 – Birth of Sylvia Pankhurst, British suffragette, socialist and anti-fascist – on democracy

“My belief in the growth and permanence of democracy is undimmed. I know that the people will cast off the new dictatorship as they did the old. I believe as firmly as in my youth that humanity will surmount the era of poverty and war.”

1911 – Birth of Edward J. Devitt, United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota, author of article “Your Honor” in “Handbook for Judges”

“Being called ‘Your Honor’ day in and day out is a constant reminder, not alone of the prestige of the office, but more importantly of the tremendous power and heavy responsibility and absolute independence of the federal judge.

“We are practically immune from discipline or censure or supervision. We cannot be defeated at an election or discharged by a superior…By striking down many government decisions…the Supreme Court has established itself as a major participant in the policy-making process.”

“Handbook for Judges,” Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society, 1975)

2003 – UU WORLD May/June issue “Does He Have More Rights Than You Do?” published this month

The Unitarian Universalists become the first religious denomination in the US to devote an entire issue of their monthly magazine to the issue of corporate personhood as it relates to self-governance. The whole issue is worth reading: http://archive.uuworld.org/2003/03/index.html

May 6

1882 – Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act

The law banned Chinese immigration of both skilled and unskilled workers for ten years. It was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was repealed in 1943.

2015 – “Amending the US constitution: the political rarity that’s suddenly in vogue” published article

“Constitutional experts say an increase in activity could coincide with the influential campaign for a balanced budget, which claims to be within seven states of the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to trigger an alternative method for seeking amendments…Triggering a convention is still an enormous long-shot and one that could be easily blocked by challenges in the supreme court, yet its possibility highlights the extent of legal uncertainties….’Nobody has really thought hard about any of these issues – it hasn’t come up since 1789 – and nobody is paying much attention to it right now,’ adds Seidman. ‘But that’s a possibility that would shake a lot of things loose. It’s possible such a convention would consider things like campaign finance.’…That would certainly please the other grassroots movements pushing hard for an amendment that sees the dominance of corporate money in politics as just the sort of issues the founders expected to see tackled…One such group is called Move to Amend. It seeks to reform campaign finance by removing the protected status of corporations which it says lies at the heart of the 2010 supreme court ruling that political campaign spending is a form of free speech protected by the first amendment.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/06/amending-consitution-politics-trend?CMP=share_btn_fb

2019 – Online article, “Creeping Toward Tyranny” by Chris Hedges

“The mechanisms that once made democracy possible have withered and died. We no longer have elections free of corporate control; real legislative debate; an independent press rooted in verifiable fact that lifts up the voices and concerns of the citizens rather than peddling conspiracy theories such as “Russiagate” or cheerleading for disastrous military interventions and occupations; academic institutions that vigorously examine and critique the nature of power; or diplomacy, negotiation, détente and compromise. Puffed up by self-importance, intoxicated by the ability to wield police and military power, despots and their grotesque courtiers are freed with the collapse of the rule of law to carry out endless vendettas against enemies real and imagined until their own paranoia and fear define the lives of those they subjugate. This is where we have come, not because of Trump, who is the grotesque product of our failed democracy, but because the institutions that were designed to prevent tyranny no longer function.”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/05/06/creeping-toward-tyranny

May 7

1936 – Birth of Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principal

“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

“Gender and Global Corporatization” article by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick

The article originally appeared in Peace & Freedom (Spring 2000), a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

http://wilpfus.org/sites/default/files/docs/sPeaceAndFreedom2000Spring.pdf

1879 – Ratification of California Constitution – on public power over corporate power

“The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be so abridged or construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies and subjecting them to public use the same as the property of individuals, and the exercise of the police power of the State shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State.” (Article XII, Section 8) http://www.ratical.org/corporations/CAconstArt12.html

2014 – Survey: Broad Bi-Partisan Support for Supreme Court Reforms

A national survey on the Supreme Court concluded that just 35% of respondents gave the Court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices. Larger majorities would require Supreme Court Justices to follow the U.S. Judicial Code of Conduct – the ethical code that binds other federal judges from which they are currently exempt (85%) and for Justices to disclose any outside activities paid for by others (80%).

http://www.democracycorps.com/National-Surveys/broad-bi-partisan-consensus-supports-reforms-to-supreme-court/

2020 –  “Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’” article published

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/07/pelosi-support-corporate-lobbyist-bailout-denounced-dumbest-political-maneuver-you

2020 – ‘The Problem Is Systemic’: Over 200 Artists and Scientists Dare World to Envision a Different Post-Covid Future” article published

“Over 200 artists and scientists issued a demand to world leaders that the planet’s leaders not attempt to “go back to normal” after the coronavirus pandemic passes, calling for substantive and swift action to address the climate crisis, consumerism, and economic inequality in the wake of the crisis.

“’Adjustments are not enough,’ the group says in a letter published Wednesday in France’s Le Monde newspaper. ‘The problem is systemic.’”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/07/problem-systemic-over-200-artists-and-scientists-dare-world-envision-different-post

May 8

1899 – Birth of Friedrich A. Hayek – economist, social theorist and political philosopher

“Nowhere has democracy ever worked well without a great measure of local self-government.”     

2014 – “And What Do We Do Now?” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal, published this month

“Now that most people perceive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be over… will this legion of tenacious, tireless citizens from backwoods, big cities and everything in between, redirect their energies and skills?…

“Today, unlike the period following the war in Viet Nam, there is a movement that has a clear, fundamental goal that addresses these questions and a strategy to achieve it: to greatly expand democracy so that we the people, not corporations, do the governing; so our elections aren’t sold to the highest bidder; so private interests can’t determine national policy in healthcare or education or energy…or war.

“What I’m talking about is MoveToAmend.org, a national grassroots campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to remove corporate money from elections and end the insane practice of giving the legal fictions we call corporations the same constitutional rights as real human beings…

“Personally, I’ve been a chump on defense long enough and I’d like to start winning for a change. Move to Amend is the only game I know of with a vision to change the rules of the game so that “winning” actually means we start running the show, not just rejoicing that we’ve stopped a weapons system or elected Tweedledum instead of Tweedledummer.”

http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_May.html

2020 – “Trump Signs Executive Order Greenlighting ‘Corporate Takeover of Our Oceans While They Hope We Aren’t Paying Attention’” posted article

“President Donald Trump issued an executive order late Thursday that environmentalists warned will accelerate the corporate exploitation of oceans by relaxing regulations on and streamlining the construction of industrial offshore aquaculture facilities, which critics deride as “floating factory farms” that pump pollution and diseases into public waters.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/08/trump-signs-executive-order-greenlighting-corporate-takeover-our-oceans-while-they

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 25 – May 1

April 25

2000 – Point Arenas CA becomes first modern-day community in nation to pass resolution challenging corporate personhood

“• Whereas, the Citizens of the City of Point Arena hope to nurture and expand democracy in our community and our nation; and

• Whereas, democracy means governance by the people and only natural persons should be able to participate in the democratic process; and

• Whereas, interference in the democratic process by corporations frequently usurps the rights of citizens to govern; and

• Whereas, corporations are artificial entities separate and apart from natural persons, are not naturally endowed with consciousness or the rights of natural persons, are creations of law and are only permitted to do what is authorized under law; and

• Whereas, rejecting the concept of corporate personhood will advance meaningful campaign finance reform.

• Now, therefore, be it resolved that: the City Council of the City of Point Arena agrees with Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in a 1938 opinion in which he stated, “I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations;” and

Be it further resolved that the City of Point Arena shall encourage public discussion on the role of corporations in public life and urge other cities to foster similar public discussion.”

Jan Edwards and others promoted the resolution campaign with the Redwood Coast Alliance for Democracy

April 26

1978 – First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti – corporations win right to spend money in elections

Corporations win the First Amendment “free speech” right to spend money influencing ballot measures. The Supreme Court ruling (435 U.S. 765, 822) threw out a Massachusetts law and nullified the laws of thirty states that had adopted similar legislation prohibiting corporate spending to influence ballot issues. Dissent by Justices White, Brennan, Marshall: “Corporations are artificial entities created by law for the purpose of furthering certain economic ends…It has long been recognized…that the special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only our economy but the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process…The state need not allow its own creation to consume it.” Rehnquist also dissented: “The blessings of perpetual life and limited liability…so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere.”

This ruling coupled with Buckley v. Valeo is used to deny democratic attempts by We the People to remove corporate money from politics.

2019 — “The Supreme Court’s Anti-Worker Rulings Are So Routine Now That We Hardly Notice Them. Big Mistake.” by Sheldon Whitehouse

“This latest partisan 5–4 decision—which came in the case of Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela—used the Federal Arbitration Act, a law governing how parties can resolve disputes through private arbitration proceedings, to deny a defrauded worker a chance at a class action. Again, if you missed it, you’re not alone. Partisan decisions from the Roberts Five choking off the rights of workers and consumers and protecting corporations from accountability have become so boringly predictable that they’re hardly news anymore.”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/sheldon-whitehouse-roberts-supreme-court-lamps-plus.html

April 27

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson on helping business corporations

“We haven’t done anything for business this week — but it is only Monday morning.”

— speech to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

2009 – Comment by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin – banks own Congress

“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

What was a refreshing bit of true reality in 2009 is even truer today. The finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector tops all sectors in political campaign contributions (or are they investments?) to Washington politicians. The return on their investments are substantial – no indictments of top bankers responsible for the 2008 sub-prime crisis and financial implosion, bailouts galore…and, of course the continuation of the license to print debt money that is loaned to the US – at interest.

2018 — “2020 Democratic Contenders are Making the ‘Cheap Gesture’ of Sharing off Corporate PAC Money, but Big Checks are Still Flying” posted article 

“The reason is that money from PACs – corporate or otherwise — comprises a relatively insignificant portion of these senators’ campaign contributions, raising the question of whether curtailing donations from corporate PACs will really make a difference. Critics think it doesn’t, noting that the bigger threat of influence comes from wealthy donors who don’t funnel their cash through PACs. But for politicians looking to seize on public discontent with the influence of money on politics, the decision makes for an effective messaging ploy.”

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/27/pacs-democrats-campaign-finance-reform-pacs-big-money/

2021 –  “The Green New Deal Needs the #WeThePeopleAmendment” online posting

“As long as corporations have constitutional rights, the Green New Deal is vulnerable to lawsuits and being gutted by the Supreme Court under the excuse that it violates corporate constitutional rights. In other words — the Green New Deal NEEDS the #WeThePeopleAmendment.”

https://www.movetoamend.org/the_green_new_deal_needs_the_wethepeopleamendment

April 28

1890 – Leisy v. Hardin [135 U.S. 100, 128] Supreme Court decision – federal Commerce Clause overrules state law protecting citizens.

The Court ruled that the laws of Iowa prohibiting in-state sales of out-of-state produced alcohol were unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. The state argued that the state had the right to bar sales under the “police powers” of Iowa that charges the state with protecting the life, health and welfare of its citizens. The Court disagreed. 

In his dissent, Justice Gray stated:

“The police power includes all measures for the protection of the life, the health, the property and the welfare of the inhabitants, and for the promotion of good order and the public morals. It covers the suppression of nuisances, whether injurious to the public health, like unwholesome trades, or to the public morals, like gambling houses and lottery tickets.

“This power, being essential to the maintenance of the authority of local government, and to the safety and welfare of the people, is inalienable. As was said by Chief Justice Waite, referring to earlier decisions to the same effect, ‘No legislature can bargain away the public health or the public morals. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. The supervision of both these subjects of governmental power is continuing in its nature, and they are to be dealt with as the special exigencies of the moment may require. Government is organized with a view to their preservation, and cannot divest itself of the power to provide for them.’”

1915 – Founding of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF)

As part of the WILPF’s ‘”Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights” national campaign in the early 2000’s, study materials were developed and six-session study groups were formed across the country to “explore the history and roots of corporate power, examine global corporatization, decolonize our minds, and participate in democratic conversation.”

2020 – Nader Activists Push Back Against Corporate Campaign to Limit Coronavirus Liability

“In an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress, Nader and twenty other lawyers, law professors and activists warned of “the pernicious effort by corporate lobbyists, insurance companies and other special interest groups to put our fellow citizens at risk, and press for legislative immunity to escape liability for preventable harms causing injury or death…

“’The problem extends far beyond nursing homes. This is part of the coming wave of tort injuries, far beyond health care institutions. This includes sales of defective products, dangerous nostrums, ill-advised treatments and other fraudulent or criminal merchandising preying on people struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Immunity from liability is a legal contagion. Special interest groups often raise pleas for immunity from liability for injuring, even killing people. And more often than not, those pleas are a pretext to obscure or conceal serious wrongdoing; and to escape liability for harming, maiming, even killing people.’”

April 29

1938 – “Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/message-congress-curbing-monopolies

2001 – Publication this month of “How Long Shall We Grovel: A Memo for the Record” by Richard Grossman, POCLAD co-founder

“…ANYONE who chooses to look will find massive evidence of chemical corporation murder, pillage & lies extending over a century. ANYONE who chooses to look will see persistent corporate denial of people’s constitutional and human rights, & government complicity. This country exalts the platitude ‘all political authority is inherent in the people…

“But our great corporations have long been protected by the rule of law … empowered by our own constitution and bill of rights. Our society has bestowed upon chemical corporation leaders, as upon top officials of all giant corporations, the highest rewards & honors, & great wealth.

“Great corporations have been exalted by legislators & judges, presidents & governors, police and national guards, by local, state & federal governments. How long shall we authorize chemical corporate officials to kill? How long shall we beg them to tell the truth? To make the earth’s air, water and soil, our foods and our jobs, a little less deadly? To please “give us” the right to know? How long shall we grovel before our elected public servants? Other species are counting on us to do more than regulate the destruction of the planet. What do YOU think we the people should do now?”  http://poclad.org/BWA/2001/BWA_2001_APR.html

April 30

2011 – Washington State Democratic Party passes “Amending the U.S. Constitution to Reserve Constitutional Rights for People, not Corporations” resolution

The resolution calls on the state legislature to pass a resolution urging Congress “to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to establish that a corporation shall not be considered a person eligible for rights accorded to human beings under the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution also declares “the use of money to influence elections or the acts of public officials shall not be considered a protected form of speech.”

2019 – “Corporate Leaning SCOTUS Makes It Easier For Employers To Steal From Workers” online article

“The US Supreme Court ruled that workers cannot filed lawsuits against employers for stealing their wages and instead they have to go in front of a panel of corporate friendly arbitrators that are always hand picked by the corporation. This story’s been kicking out there for a long time, I mean you’ve got a labor policy that makes it virtually impossible for individuals to sue their employers, in other words an employer literally steals money from them. They do it all kinds of ways.”

May 1

1847 – Birth of Henry Demarest Lloyd

“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.”

American political activist and muckraking journalist Lloyd was best known for his exposes of the Standard Oil Company.

2012 – Publication of  “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power” by Steve Coll

“The main themes of ‘Private Empire’ involved the ways that ExxonMobil saw itself as an independent, transnational corporate sovereign in the world, a power independent of the American government, one devoted firmly to shareholder interests and possessed of its own foreign policy. Exxon’s foreign policy sometimes had more impact on the countries where it operated than did the State Department.”

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/rex-tillerson-from-a-corporate-oil-sovereign-to-the-state-department

2022 – May Day

“International Workers’ Day, also known as Workers’ Day, Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival.

“The date was chosen by a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on ‘all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.'”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day

The US is one of the few countries not to celebrate their Labor Day on May 1 — done intentionally to dissuade workers from thinking and acting in solidarity with workers in other nations. 

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 18 – 24

April 18

1996 – Publication this month of “Corporations for the Seventh Generation: Changing the Ground Rules, Part 1” by Jane Anne Morris, corporate anthropologist and POCLAD principal

“What if…

  • corporations were required to have a clear purpose, to be fulfilled but not exceeded;
  • corporations’ licenses to do business were revocable by the state legislature if they exceeded or did not fulfill their chartered purpose(s);
  • the state legislature could revoke a corporation’s charter for a particular reason, or for no reason at all;
  • the act of incorporation did not relieve corporate management or stockholders/owners of responsibility or liability for corporate acts;
  • as a matter of course, corporation officers, directors, or agents could be held criminally liable for violating the law;
  • state (not federal) courts heard cases where corporations or their agents were accused of breaking the law or harming the public;
  • directors of the corporation were required to come from among stockholders;
  • corporations had to have their headquarters and meetings in the state where their principal place of business was located;
  • corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, like 20 or 30 years (instead of being granted “in perpetuity,” as is now the practice);
  • corporations were prohibited from owning stock in other corporations in order to prevent them from extending their power inappropriately;
  • corporations’ real estate holdings were limited to what was necessary to carry out their specific purpose(s);
  • corporations were prohibited from making any political contributions, direct or indirect;
  • corporations were prohibited from making charitable or civic donations outside of their specific purposes;
  • state legislatures set the rates that corporations could charge for their products or services;
  • all corporation records and documents were open to the legislature or the state attorney general?

All of these provisions were once law in the state of Wisconsin. And similar ones existed in most other states.”

From http://poclad.org/BWA/1996/BWA_1996_APR.html

April 19

1775 – Revolutionary War Begins

Shots fired and the subsequent battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. Colonists sought independence not only from the Crown (King), but also from the Crown’s military arm (Redcoats, which oppressed the colonists) and from the Crown’s economic/governing arms (Crown corporations, chartered by the King to conduct the King’s affairs in the colonies – which also oppressed). Examples included the Massachusetts Bay Company, the Carolina Company, the Maryland Company and the Virginia Company. The Revolution constitutionalized these corporations, transforming them into states or commonwealths. It also democratized “sovereignty” from rule by a single person to in principle We the People. In practice, only white, male property owners assumed power and rule.

2012 – Vermont Becomes First State to Call for Amendment Removing Corporations From Constitution

“[Other states] have passed resolutions against the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, but the Vermont resolution goes beyond simply overturning that case and aims to remove corporations from the constitution altogether and make clear that money is not speech and that campaign spending and political contributions can be regulated by government.”

http://movetoamend.org/press-release/vermont-legislature-calls-constitutional-amendment-end-corporate-personhood-and

April 20

On the 20th April 1653, Oliver Cromwell dismisses Parliament with the following words

‘It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!’

http://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/dismissal_of_the_rump_parliament.htm

1868 – Birth of John Hylan, New York City Mayor – corporations and their leaders like a giant octopus

Hylan was Mayor of New York from 1918-1925. He said, “The real menace of our republic is this invisible government, which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen…At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.”

1920 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

In his 2014 book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” Stevens proposed the following Constitutional Amendment:

“Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”

April 21

1796 – Birth of Thomas Earle, U.S. journalist and lawyer – on power of Supreme Court 

Many citizens were outraged by the power of the Supreme Court, which they considered to be a direct  attack on the sovereignty of “We the People.”  In one protest pamphlet, journalist Thomas Earle penned:

“It is aristocracy and despotism, to have a body of officers, whose decisions are, for a long time, beyond the control of the people. The freemen of America ought not to rest contented, so long as their Supreme Court is a body of that character.”

1830 – Birth of Mary Ann Brayton Woodbridge, U.S. Temperance Leader
Woodbridge, a Quaker, was President of the Ohio National Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WTCU) and later became a leading organizer and editor for the national Christian organization. The WTCU, founded in 1874, focused on social reform issues of child labor, public health, peace and suffrage. It’s major focus, however, was promoting temperance. The WTCU was one of the leading groups behind the movement for passage of the 18th Amendment that prohibited the production, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. The Amendment went into effect in 1920.

2018 – Published article “A Cancer on Society: Monsanto Claims Right Not to Speak About Roundup” by Alfonso Saldaña, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap

“What might be a surprise to most is that, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), glyphosate, the principal ingredient in the herbicide, is a ‘probable carcinogen’”…

“Despite the IARC’s findings, a U.S. District Judge has temporarily suspended the labeling of food products that contain traces of the herbicide, because it violates Monsanto’s First Amendment ‘right not to speak.’”

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/04/21/cancer-society-monsanto-claims-right-not-speak-about-roundup

2020 – “Everything Else is Irrelevant without a Livable World” online posting

“Unfortunately, despite the incredible efforts of so many people over the past 50 years to protect the environment, the earth and what remains of its incredibly diverse life forms are far less healthy than in 1970. Fossil fuel burning, pesticides, radioactive leaks, air pollution, oil spills, deforestation, fracking, urban expansion, water pollution, mountaintop removal and scores of other human activities are destroying farms, oceans, air quality, wildernesses, biodiversity, and the planet’s climate. The result has been mass extinction of many species and among humans, disproportionate harm to people of color, the poor, indigenous communities and the elderly and sick.

“The reality is that most of the above have been the consequences of corporate actions toward people, communities and the natural world with the goal of profit maximization —  which in most cases have been not only legal, but sanctioned, if not subsidized, by governments. This has been coupled with the creation of a corporate culture of insatiable never-ending wants of material things that can never be satisfied since wealth, success, and personal well-being is defined by the amount of “stuff” we possess — whether we can afford it or not.

https://www.movetoamend.org/everything_else_is_irrelevant_without_a_livable_world

2021 – “The earth needs the #WeThePeopleAmendment” online posting

“Tomorrow is Earth Day — and while planting a tree is a great way to spend the day, we can’t forget that we are up against a powerful, extractive, and brutal system that our individual choices will never be enough to defeat.

“Do you know who loves these exhortations to individual action to stop climate collapse? The 100 corporations who are responsible for 71% of the planet’s carbon emissions!

The #WeThePeopleAmendment is one of the most powerful ways we can bring these corporations to heel…

“By eliminating corporate constitutional rights, they could no longer control our government and policy with campaign funding and lobbying, nor could they challenge regulations in court by claiming other constitutional rights (like their 5th Amendment “right” to future profits lost)

https://www.movetoamend.org/the_earth_needs_the_wethepeopleamendment

April 22

1970 – Earth Day, birth of environmental movement

An estimated 20 million people took part across the US in marches, rallies, teach-ins and other public events to demonstrate support for the environment. Much of the environment’s deterioration/destruction from toxic and radioactive dumps, pesticides, wildlife extinction, air pollution, oil spills, raw sewage, wilderness loss and freeways came from corporate actions – that were ignored, sanctioned or subsidized by the government.  The day led to the creation of organizations and massive grassroots pressure leading to the establishment of the EPA and federal laws addressing clean air, water and wildlife protection.

Earth Day went global in 1990. More than 200 million people in over 140 countries took part in activities and sparked a global movement, which continues today against these same issues as well as climate change. 

Corporate entities remain a major cause of environmental destruction.

2011 – Students call for constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood

The Associated Students organization of Humboldt State University in California pass a resolution supporting the Move to Amend campaign and calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. The resolution was proposed by a group of students working with Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC).

2019 – “How a River Was Granted Personhood” published article

“Then, in 2017, something unprecedented happened. The New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood—a status that is in keeping with the Maori worldview that the river is a living entity. The legislation, which has yet to be codified into domestic law, refers to the river as an “indivisible, living whole,” conferring it “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of an individual.

“An ancient Maori proverb reads, ‘I am the river, and the river is me.’”

https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/587689/river-me/

[Note: A very appropriate piece to be published on Earth Day!]

April 23

2010 – Arizona Senate Bill 1070 signed into law

Police are required to ask individuals to present their citizenship or immigration documents if they have undefined “reasonable suspicion” that the person stopped may be in AZ illegally, justifying racial profiling and harassment.

The law was upheld by U.S. Supreme court on June 25, 2012

2014: “My Resignation from the NC State Bar” by Lewis Pitts

A tremendous statement by the former Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD] Principal

“There is stark injustice in our land and the Bar stands mostly silent to its affirmative duty as the collective conscience of individual lawyers to speak out as ‘public citizen(s)’ in opposition to these legal and moral wrongs. Law must be grounded in notions of shared moral values. These have been made clear in our Founding Documents: justice, equality, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the enjoyment of the fruits of one’s own labor, domestic tranquility, and the general welfare – as well as the values contained in the Bill of Rights. Today those values are treated as if ‘special interests’ or on the fringe instead of being core values. The ‘morals and manners of the market place’ trample these values routinely in capital’s mad hunt for profits while selectively claiming ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ to expropriate and accumulate as much wealth as possible. It is this hunt for profit that has turned our legal profession into the ‘legal industry’ serving the market instead of the People.” Complete statement at

2020 — “Seventeen More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution” online posting

“In the April election, Wisconsin residents in seventeen communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

“All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in the cities of Rhinelander (89%) and Eagle River (87%) and the towns of Wescott (86%), Newbold (87%), Crescent (83%), Pelican (85%), Woodruff (85%), Pine Lake (86%), Hazelhurst (86%), Arbor Vitae (87%), Presque Isle (79%), Winchester (79%), Boulder Junction (86%), Phelps (81%), Lac du Flambeau (85%), Plum Lake (82%) and Manitowish Waters (77%).

https://www.movetoamend.org/seventeen_more_communities_vote_to_amend_the_u_s_constitution

April 24

1864 – Birth of John Basil Barnhill – writer, lecturer, debater, ed. of various journals including The Eagle and the Serpent – on liberty

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”  (under pseud. John Erwin McCall).

1936 – Death of Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley), humorist and writer

“I niver knew a pollytician to go wrong ontil he’s been contaminated by contact with a business man.”

2018 – Mick Mulvaney says in Congress, he only talked to lobbyists who gave him money

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress…If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Talk by Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and head of the Offie of Management and Budget Office of Management and Budget, gave to a group of some 1,300 bankers and lending industry professionals at the American Bankers Association conference in Washington, DC.

[Note: Mulvaney was Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff from 2019-2020]

2020 – “Environmental Personhood: Recent Developments and the Road Ahead” published article

“Even today the essence of the principle propounded by Justice William Douglas back in 1972 can be discerned in a number of judicial pronouncements and legislation across the world that advocate for according of certain rights to nature and some even going out of their way in according legal personality to an array of flora and fauna and other environmental elements. These developments come in as a welcome change to the usual legal narrative which maintains an anthropocentric view and perspective to cases and disputes involving nature. Jurisdictions like New Zealand, India, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc. have come up with diverse conceptions of environment as a judicial personality and thus it is rendered necessary to understand the rationale involved in each of these scenarios.”

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/04/sanket-khandelwal-environment-person/

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