REAL Democracy History Calendar: July 16 – 22

July 16

1974 – Birth of Ben Manski, Founder of Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Liberty Tree “reinforce(s) pro-democracy campaigns across the United States” and helped “solidify networks of people whose aim is to have a more participatory system of government.” He also co-founded 180/Movement for Democracy and Education which was active from 1998 to 2004.. Its goal was “fighting against the corporatization of education, and subsequently aiming toward ‘campus democracy’ through teach-ins and other activities on college campuses.”

1992 – Publication of The Transformation of American Law by Morton Horwitz
“[T]he basic problem of legal thinkers after the Civil War was how to articulate a conception of property that could accommodate the tremendous expansion in the variety of forms of ownership spawned by a dynamic industrial society…The efforts by legal thinkers to legitimate the business corporation during the 1890’s were buttressed by a stunning reversal in American economic thought – a movement to defend and justify as inevitable the emergence of large-scale corporate concentration.”

July 17

1790 – Death of Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations – who condemned corporations
“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

July 18

1854 – Birth of Tom Johnson, Mayor of Cleveland, 1901-1909
“I believe in the municipal ownership of all public service monopolies…for if you do not own them they will, in time, own you. They will rule your politics, corrupt your institutions, and finally destroy your liberties.”

July 19

1848 – Women’s Rights Convention begins in Seneca Falls, NY
The convention attracted several hundred attendees – both women and men. The key organizers were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Coffin Mott, and Martha Coffin Wright. Conventioneers produced the Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. Its principal drafter, Stanton, based it on the form of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It listed grievances and demands. Sixty-eight women and 32 men signed the document. The event is credited with launching the movement for attaining the political, social, civil and religious rights of women,

July 20

1914 – Founding of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)
Founded by Marcus Garvey, the UNIA held its first meeting on this date. It became the largest pan African organization ever established by the early 1920s with 700 branches in 38 states along with millions of members.

2015 – “The US Presidency for Sale: The Role of Big Money in the Presidential Campaign” article published by Patrick Martin
The 2016 US presidential election will be the most expensive in history, costing an estimated $10 billion, when all spending by candidates, the Democratic and Republican parties, super PACs and other corporate lobbies and trade unions is tabulated.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-presidency-for-sale-the-role-of-big-money-in-the-presidential-campaign/543416

July 21

2014 – “What Does It Actually Mean to Say a Corporation Is a ‘Person’?” article posted by Samuel C. Berger
“The simplest explanation of corporate personhood is that corporations are fictitious entities that can perform some of the same activities as individual people. “
http://www.newjerseybusinesslawyersblog.com/2014/07/what-does-it-actually-mean-to-say-a-corporation-is-a-person.html

July 22

2015 – Donald Trump interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper
TRUMP: “The politicians are going to destroy this country. They’re weak and they’re ineffective and they’re controlled by the lobbyists and special interests…They will do whatever I want … I’ve had lobbyists and I’ve had some very good ones. They could do anything. They could take a politician and have them jump off this ledge. ”
COOPER: “Can you actually change that culture of corruption?”
TRUMP: “Well, you can in the sense that the top person can’t be bought [indicating himself] … but these lobbyists totally control these politicians … I see Bush [Jeb] with the lobbyists … they’re totally telling him what to do, like a little puppet. And the same with Hillary and everybody else. Now, when I’m in business, I’m part of that game … these guys are desperate for money. I don’t need it.”
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/trump-pulled-strings-political-puppets-5792

 

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: July 9 – 15

July 9

1868 – The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passes — black males are now citizens
“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It was this second use of the word “person” that corporate lawyers argued should be applied to corporations.

In first 50 years after adoption, 0.5% of cases related to it brought to the Supreme Court were on behalf of African Americans, 50% were for corporations. Between 1890 and 1910, 19 cases dealt with the rights of African Americans and 288 dealt with corporations.

July 10

1832 – Andrew Jackson vetoes legislation to renew the charter of the private Second Bank of the United States
“Is there no danger to our liberty and independence in a bank that in its nature has so little to bind it to our country?… Should its influence become concentrated, as it may under the operation of such an act as this, in the hands of a self-elected directory whose interests are identified with those of the foreign stockholders, will there not be cause to tremble for the purity of our elections in peace and for the independence of our country in war? Their power would be great whenever they might choose to exert it; but if this monopoly were regularly renewed every fifteen or twenty years on terms proposed by themselves, they might seldom in peace put forth their strength to influence elections or control the affairs of the nation. But if any private citizen or public functionary should interpose to curtail its powers or prevent a renewal of its privileges, it cannot be doubted that he would be made to feel its influence.”

July 11

1899 – Birth of Elwyn Brooks White
“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half of the time.”

2014 – American Federation of Teachers pass resolution declaring corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech
The resolution was passed at their national convention
https://www.aft.org/resolution/support-constitutional-amendment-undo-supreme-courts-citizens-united-and

July 12

1804 – Death of Alexander Hamilton, first US Secretary of the Treasury
Hamilton called people the “mob at the gate” and decried “Our real disease, which is Democracy.”

He was a major proponent of First Bank of the United States – a privately owned national bank. The name was to deceive people into thinking that money creation was done by the government instead of corporate banks. The nation’s money was created out of thin air and loaned to the government – at interest – and to private individuals. Eighty percent of the stock was privately held. Hamilton called the public debt “a public blessing” because of his belief that it would tie the wealthy (who would own the government bonds) of the country to the government, and they would, in turn, provide political support for higher taxes, to make sure that there was enough money in the treasury to pay off their principal and interest.

1817 – Birth of Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
[Note: Focusing on fundamental constitutional and other structural and cultural changes are those that strike at the root.]

1873 – The Farmers’ Anti-Monopoly Convention, Des Moines
The Convention resolved that: “all corporations are subject to legislative control; [such control] should be at all times so used as to prevent moneyed corporations from becoming engines of oppression.”

July 13

1956 – J.R.R. Tolkien is quoted on the topic of modern governments
“The main mark of modern governments is that we do not know who governs, de facto any more than de jure. We see the politician and not his backer; still less the backer of the backer; or what is most important of all, the banker of the backer. Enthroned above all, in a manner without parallel in all past, is the veiled prophet of finance, swaying all men living by a sort of magic, and delivering oracles in a language not understood of the people.” – Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, quoted in Contour magazine.

July 14

1798 – The Sedition Act passes
Taking advantage of public fears of attack during a period of naval hostilities with France, Congress passed and President Adams signed a bill permitting government prosecution of individuals who expressed freedom of speech when voicing or printing what the government deemed malicious against the president or the U.S. government. It was a direct violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment right of free speech. There were 14 citizens, mainly journalists, who were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the Act.

1965 – Death of Adlai Stevenson II, U.S. politician, diplomat, and Presidential candidate
“The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal…is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

July 15

2003 – Article: “Catholic Social Thought and the Amorality of Large Corporations: Time to Abolish Corporate Personhood” by William Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans School of Law
“Large corporations rule the world. Because of their growing size and power they have overwhelmed the ability of civil governments to regulate them. In a world where 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day, current economic arrangements are not just. Catholic social thought has been critical of corporations since the 1930s and stresses the need for government regulation for the common good, subsidiarity and a preferential option for the poor. Law has bestowed on corporations the legal status of a person and has given corporations many constitutional rights and protections. Ethics, morality and Catholic social thought suggest it is time to abolish corporate personhood as a step towards returning people to the center of economic activity.”

This article is based on a presentation made at the Fifth International Symposium on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education, co-sponsored by the University de Deusto, July 15-18, 2003

2014 — Montana Senator (and farmer) Jon Tester: “Corporations are not people”
Montana farmer and US Senator Jon Tester, took to the floor of the Senate to explain why he has introduced a Constitutional amendment to preserve rights of human beings, and end the fabrication of new “corporate rights.”
Montana Senator (and farmer) Jon Tester: Corporations Are Not People
Text of Tester’s amendment is here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/148533402/Tester-s-Constitutional-Amendment

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: July 2 – 8

July 2

1890 – Sherman Antitrust Act passes
The Act was intended to prevent corporate monopolies and conspiracies to suppress competition and control the market. It was used, however, with most devastating effect against labor unions (which were charged as “conspiracies”) beginning in the 1910’s. Corporate attorneys argued that if it was illegal for corporate persons to form monopolies for their own benefit, it should also be illegal for human beings to do the same by forming unions. The courts agreed in most instances.

1964 – Passage of Civil Rights Act
The act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended voting discrimination and literacy testing as a qualification for voting, established the Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and ended discrimination in schools, at the workplace and other public facilities.

1997 – Radical Democracy (paperback is published) by Douglas Lummis
“Democracy was once a word of the people, a critical word, a revolutionary word. It has been stolen by those who would rule over the people, to add legitimacy to their rule…The basic idea of democracy is simple . . .
“Democracy is a word that joins demos—the people—with kratia—power . . . It describes an ideal, not a method for achieving it. It is not a kind of government, but an end of government; not a historically existing institution, but a historical project . . . if people take it up as such and struggle for it.”

July 3

1937 – Birth of Tom Stoppard, Dramatist – on democracy
“It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.”

2014 – “Hobby Lobby Fallout: Catholic Soy Milk Mogul Won’t Cover Drugs That ‘Prevent Procreation’” is published
“The day after the Justices decided evangelical Hobby Lobby billionaire David Green doesn’t have to cover certain contraceptives for his employees, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment against Eden Foods and sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further consideration.”
http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/07/03/hobby-lobby-fallout-catholic-soy-milk-mogul-wont-cover-drugs-that-prevent-procreation/#79d954d33a74

July 4

1776 – U.S. Declaration of Independence is signed
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
[To celebrate the 4th https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQP563gKwIU%5D

1892 – The Populist Party adopts the “Omaha Platform,” its founding document
“We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggles of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people. We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them…

“We demand a national currency, safe, sound, and flexible, issued by the general government only, a full legal tender for all debts, public and private…without the use of banking corporations…

“Transportation being a means of exchange and a public necessity, the government should own and operate the railroads in the interest of the people. The telegraph, telephone, like the post-office system, being a necessity for the transmission of news, should be owned and operated by the government in the interest of the people…

“The land, including all the natural sources of wealth, is the heritage of the people, and should not be monopolized for speculative purposes, and alien ownership of land should be prohibited. All land now held by railroads and other corporations in excess of their actual needs, and all lands now owned by aliens should be reclaimed by the government and held for actual settlers only…
Full Platform at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5361/

July 5

1935 – National Labor Relations Act goes into effect
The NLRA protected workers’ rights to organize unions and bargain collectively in the U.S. without employer interference with a union drive. Workers gained the right to self-organize.

July 6

1798 – The Alien Act is enacted
The law authorized the President of the United States to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the U.S. The act had no expiration date and remained in force until the early 21st century.

1835 – Death of John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
“A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it, either expressly or as incidental to its very existence” (1819)

July 7

1307 – Death of King Edward I, first to utilize the “quo warranto” written order
Quo warranto is a Medieval Latin term 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 the corporations — in the name of affirming sovereignty/self-governance.

All 50 states still retain elements of quo warranto. The authority concerning the creation and dissolution of corporations was meant to be a legislative power, not judicial.

1896 – Remarks of William Jennings Bryan before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (Bryan was the Democratic Party Candidate for President)
“We say in our platform that we believe that the right to coin money and issue money is a function of government…Those who are opposed to the proposition tell us that the issue of paper money is a function of the bank and that the government ought to go out of the banking business. I stand with Jefferson…and tell them, as he did, that the issue of money is a function of the government and that the banks should go out of the governing business…”
(Bryan was the Democratic Party Candidate for President.)

July 8

1926 – Birth of John Dingell, 29-term Democratic congressman from Michigan
In 2014, just before he retired, Dingell said: “Allowing people and corporate interest groups and others to spend an unlimited amount of unidentified money has enabled certain individuals to swing any and all elections, whether they are congressional, federal, local, state … Unfortunately and rarely are these people having goals which are in line with those of the general public. History well shows that there is a very selfish game that’s going on and that our government has largely been put up for sale.”

2011 – Leading Libertarian questions money in politics and corporate constitutional rights
Michael D. Ostrolenk, a leading national Libertarian; cofounder and National Director of the Liberty Coalition and CEO of the Transpartisan Center commented on politico.com: “[E]ach time either of the two parties had the reigns (SIC) of power including the presidency and congress, what did they do with that power? They helped to entrench their own special interests and set themselves up for larger and larger donations from corporations and unions.” http://www.politico.com/arena/archive/hill-democrats-entitlement-mentality.html#13B4FC26-E1FD-4451-BA8B-554F57493EC6

More recently, he has stated, “As a conservative, I support property rights and freer markets but have to question the notion that corporations deserve the same constitutional protections as ‘we the people.’” http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Corporations_Not_People_2nd_ed_EXCERPT.pdf

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 25 – July 1

June 25

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.

June 27

1816 – “An Act to Amend The Charter And Enlarge And Improve The Corporation of Dartmouth College” passed by New Hampshire legislature
The legislation converted private Dartmouth College into Dartmouth University, and ordered the new school to set up public colleges around the state. “Whereas knowledge and learning generally diffused through a Community are essential to the preservation of free Government, and extending the opportunities and advantages of education is highly conducive to promote this end…”

The State Supreme Court ruled that the legislature had the authority to change the charter of the college, “because it is a matter of too great moment, too intimately connected with the public welfare and prosperity, to be thus entrusted in the hands of a few. The education of the rising generation is a matter of the highest public concerns, and is worthy of the best attention of every legislature.”

College leaders appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the decision in the landmark decision Dartmouth College v Woodward in 1819 on the grounds that the college corporate charter was actually not a democratic instrument but a “contract” and that the actions of the New Hampshire legislature and State Supreme Court violated the “Contracts Clause” of the U.S. Constitution.

1836 – Speech of John C. Calhoun, former U.S. Vice-President
“A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interests, combined in one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks.”

June 28

1836 – Death of James Madison, 4th President of the United States – on corporations
“There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”

1934 – The National Housing Act is enacted
A federal housing authority was created during the Great Depression to provide loans and subsidies for homeowners. However, mortgage-underwriting standards discriminate against persons of color and their communities in a process labeled “red lining.”

1978 – Regents of the University of California v. Bakke [438 U.S. 265, 388-89] Supreme Court decision upholding affirmative action but forbidding quotas
The US Supreme Court landmark decision upheld affirmative action, allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy. The establishment of specific quotas, however, was not permissible.
Justice Thurgood Marshall stated on the decision: “[T]he denial of human rights was etched into the American Colonies’ first attempts at establishing self-government. . . . The self-evident truths and the unalienable rights were intended to apply only to white men.”

June 29

2013 – Publication this month of “Public Law to Criminalize Hydrofracking Makes Headway in New York State” by Virginia Rasmussen
“This action is being introduced in towns that passed a protective law zoning out the industrial activity of hydraulic fracturing, an authority granted local governments under NYS Home Rule law. But bans on hydraulic fracturing are no guarantee of true and lasting prohibitions, subject as they are to the vast discretionary authority of regulatory officials appointed by the governor or the executive office.
The move to build a statewide constituency on behalf of criminalization aims not only to make this technology a violation of law with commensurate penalties but to shift people’s relationship to corporations from one of subordination to one of defining and governing the corporate institutions we create. The law would criminalize fracking, frackers and all activities that support and surround the technology: waste disposal, water withdrawal, compressor operations, gas storage, pipeline installation, and more.”
http://poclad.org/BWA/2013/BWA_2013_June.html

June 30

2008 – Publication of Gaveling Down the Rabble: How “Free Trade” Is Stealing Our Democracy by Jane Anne Morris, corporate anthropologist and former POCLAD principal
“The several themes in this book all connect around the subversion of unrepresentative government democracy by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court has usurped from Congress the role of making public policy, with judicial decisions based on the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. These rulings have built a body of law favoring large corporate interests over the rights of states, municipalities, labor, minorities, and the environment.”

As of 2008 according to Morris, 219 state laws had been overturned by Supreme Court just on commerce clause grounds. A complete list of state laws held to be unconstitutional is at http://law.justia.com/constitution/us/047-state-laws-held-unconstitutional.html
Info on the book is at https://rowman.com/isbn/9781891843396

2014 – Burwell vs Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. [134 S.Ct. 2751, WL 2921709] Supreme Court decision: being persons, corporations can hold “religious beliefs”
The Court concluding that a pile of legal documents constituting a corporation possess “religious beliefs,” thus expanding corporate “personhood” one more notch. The court ruled that religious beliefs could be held not by the individuals who own the corporation but the corporation itself. The legal yoga of this decision with its impressive constitutional twists, stretches and contortions allowed Hobby Lobby’s human owners to avoid covering certain contraceptives for their female employees under the Affordable Care Act which violated the “religious beliefs” of the pile of legal papers.

July 1

2013 – “Local Lawmaking: A Call for a Community Rights Movement” is published article by Thomas Linzy, Executive Director, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)
“It is that right to local self-government – a right that we’re told that we already have, but which people discover is not there when they need it most – that serves as the guide-star of this slowly gathering movement.
“To stop them, corporate and governmental officials will be forced to slay their own sacred cow – the ‘rule of law’ – which they have used since time immemorial as their own version of ‘God said so’” Thus, governmental and corporate officials will be forced to bring the power of the system’s own courts, legislatures, and regulators crashing down on them, in the face of clear and overwhelming evidence that our food and water systems, our energy systems, and our global climate are themselves crashing as a result of policies created by those very same institutions…

“These communities’ new rule of law – made in the name of environmental and economic sanity – believes that people and nature have rights, not corporations; that new civil, political, and environmental rights must be recognized; and that we must stop (immediately) those corporate acts which harm us.”
http://www.occupy.com/article/local-lawmaking-call-community-rights-movement#sthash.MddaXmwy.dpufhttp://www.occupy.com/article/local-lawmaking-call-community-rights-movement

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 18 – 24

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)

June 19

1902 – Death of Lord Acton, English historian, politician and writer
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”

2002 – Publications this month of article “The Struggle for Democracy: Activists Take the Offense” by Virginia Rasmussen
“We’re fed up with behaving like subordinates content to influence the decisions of corporate boards and the corporate class. Having influence is valuable, but influencing is not deciding. We’re weary of waging long, hard battles simply for the ‘right to know.’ Knowing is critical, but knowing is not deciding. We’re tired of exercising our right to dissent as the be-all and end-all. Dissent is vital, but dissenting is not deciding. Influencing, knowing, dissenting, participating — all are important to a democratic life, but not one of them carries with it the authority to decide, the power to be in charge.

…”We’re not taking the subordinate role of asking the Enron Corporation to behave a little better. We’re not content with putting a corporate-designed and -controlled regulatory agency on Enron’s trail. Regulatory law protects corporations from pesky people. It enables and protects the corporate agenda as it was intended to do…If we seek democratic outcomes, we must frame activism in the people’s sovereign authority to rule.”
http://poclad.org/BWA/2002/BWA_2002_JUN.html

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.”

Barkley 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.”

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.”

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.”

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 FUTHER 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

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.”

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…”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 11 – 17

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.”

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

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 were 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

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.

June 16

1723 – Birth of Adam Smith, author of “Wealth of Nations”
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 made specific mention of corporations twelve times in the Wealth of Nations. Not once does he attribute any favorable quality to them.
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Korten/RiseCorpPower_WCRW.html

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.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 4 – 10

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 colonial Crown corporations.

June 5

1967 – See v. Seattle [387 U.S. 541] Supreme Court decision – corporations protected from random inspections under the 4th Amendment
The Supreme Court grants corporations 4th Amendment protection from random inspection by fire departments. The Court framed the issue on the basis of “business enterprises,” corporate or otherwise. An administrative warrant is necessary to enter and inspect commercial premises. Without random inspections it became virtually impossible to enforce meaningful anti-pollution, health, and safety laws.
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2008 – Judge rules Blackwater Corporation is a person
Blackwater Corporation sued the City of San Diego to force it to issue the company a certificate of occupancy for its training facility in Otay Mesa before the plan went through the city’s public review process. Blackwater claimed its constitutional due process rights had been violated and that it needed to open its training facility on time to meet its contractual terms. “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract,” ruled U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.
http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/metro/20080605-9999-1m5black.html

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

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.”

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. . .”

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.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 28 – June 3

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.

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.

May 30

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

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. “

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

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

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.

1995 – Remarks by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal at “Rally against the Contract on America” in Toledo, Ohio
“The Contract on America is not ultimately about balancing the budget or about reforming welfare. The Contract is about who runs our country…when budget-cutters in Congress wield the knife, they do so like skilled sleight-of hand experts, distracting our attention. They use code words like “family values,” and “personal responsibility,” as they try to convince us that this nation is in danger of collapse because black teenagers have too many babies; because food stamp recipients spend too much on corn flakes and peanut butter…But ask them to eliminate the subsidies handed out routinely to corporations and they fall suddenly silent. Is this debate about budget deficits? Or is it about who really runs our country?…These are truly fundamental questions. As we answer them, we have immediate work before us: to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow citizens who deserve a share of this nation’s wealth; to make clear to elected officials who care more about corporations than about democracy, that they will pay a political price.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 21 – 27

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.

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.

May 23

1838 – U.S. troops begin forced removal of Cherokees from their land
Congress agreed to provide a 2-year “grace” period for Cherokees to “voluntarily” leave their lands in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas for Oklahoma and further west. About 25% of those forced to relocate beginning on this date died from exposure, disease and starvation during the journey. What became known as the “Trail of Tears” was the forced removal of numerous Native American nations in the east, which included people from the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations.

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.

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

May 27

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

 

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 14 – 20

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 several geographic 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.

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

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.

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.”
http://www.rachel.org/files/Rachels_Environment_Health_News_1765.pdf

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

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

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/

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