1906 – US. Supreme Court grants 4th Amendment “search and seizure” rights for first time in Hale v. Henkel (201 U.S. 43)
Corporations are granted 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protection for the first time. The Bill of Rights was intended to apply solely to human beings, not corporate entities.
1912 – Speech of former Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan before 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention
“The first thing to understand is the difference between the natural person and the fictitious person called a corporation. They differ in the purpose for which they are created, in the strength which they possess, and in the restraints under which they act. Man is the handiwork of God and was placed upon earth to carry out a Divine purpose; the corporation is the handiwork of man and created to carry out a money-making policy. There is comparatively little difference in the strength of men; a corporation may be one hundred, one thousand, or even one million times stronger than the average man. Man acts under the restraints of conscience, and is influenced also by a belief in a future life. A corporation has no soul and cares nothing about the hereafter.”
1932 – Birth of Andrew Young, civil rights leader, Mayor, Congressperson, UN Ambassador and pastor
“Nothing is illegal if 100 businessmen decide to do it.”
1933 – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in dissenting opinion in Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee
“The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and hence to be borne with resignation. Throughout the greater part of our history a different view prevailed.”
2010 – Murray Hill Inc. announces run for Congress
Washington Post article on Murray Hill Inc.’s announcement of its candidacy for Congress. “After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office. ‘Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,’ the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. ‘But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.'”
1782 – Birth of Thomas Benton, US Senator (MO) – on objecting to charter renewal of the Bank of the United States
“I object to the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States because I look upon the bank as an institution too great and powerful to be tolerated in a government of free and equal laws. Its power is that of the purse, a power more potent than that of the sword, and this power it possesses to a degree and extent that will enable this bank to draw to it too much of the political power of this Union, and too much of the individual property of the citizens of these States. The money power of the bank is both direct and indirect.”
1977 – Death of Fannie Lou Hamer – who challenged Mississippi’s all-white voting delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention
A civil rights and voting rights activist and leader, Hamer organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Its purpose was to challenge the anti-civil rights and all-white delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which didn’t represent all Mississippians. The Democratic Party establishment tried to ignore her and the Freedom Democrats’ plight concerning voter registration of African Americans. The Party sought a compromise that didn’t yield any power to the Freedom Democrats. Hamer said, “We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats when all of us is tired.” Continued pressure resulted in the Freedom Democrats being seated at the 1968 Convention with the Party agreeing to equality of representation of all states’ delegations. Hamer was elected as a national party delegate in 1972.
She also said: “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
1838 – New Hampshire Chief Justice William M. Richardson, author of the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, on why the corporate charter should be defined as subordinate of the state and not a contract beyond state control
“I cannot bring myself to believe, that it would be consistent with sound policy, or ultimately with the true interests of literature itself, to place the great public institutions, in which all the young men, destined for the liberal professions, are to be educated, within the absolute control of a few individuals, and out of the control of the sovereign power – not consistent with sound policy, 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 concern, and is worthy of the best attention of every legislature. . . . We are therefore clearly of opinion, that the charter of Dartmouth College, is not a contract, within the meaning of this clause in the Constitution of the United States.”
Reports on Cases Argued and Determined in the Superior Court of Judicature for the State of New Hampshire, 135 (1819), 1/4/1774 – 3/15/1838
The decision was appealed to and reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision.
1767 – Birth of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States
Jackson opposed the private, misnamed Second National Bank of the United States. He refused to support renewing its corporate charter. He said in 1834: “I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter. I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be a true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, I will rout you out.”
His opposition to the Bank’s charter renewal resulted in its dissolution.
1751 – Birth of James Madison, 4th President of the United States – complicated figure on democracy and corporate power
Madison was a complicated figure on the issues of democracy and corporate power. On the one hand, he was the major drafter of the U.S. Constitution, which initially did not include a Bill of Rights. This document was a replacement for the more democratic, original U.S. Constitution — the Articles of Confederation. Only when people in many states claimed the Constitution protected property more than people and opposed its ratification, was a Bill of Rights added. Madison then drafted those first 10 Amendments. He kept the minutes of the Constitutional Convention secret for more than 50 years.
On the question of corporations, he said in 1817: “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.”
1924 – U.S. Supreme Court grants tobacco corporations 4th Amendment rights in Federal Trade Commission v. American Tobacco Co., 264 U.S. 298
The U.S. Senate directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible unfair trade practices of several tobacco corporations. The FTC ordered the corporation to produce documents. The corporations refused. The FTC sued. The corporations claimed 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protections (intended originally solely for human beings) to shield them from Congressional authority. The Supreme Court sided with the tobacco corporations, agreeing that the 4th Amendment shielded them from public scrutiny.
1831 – Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia court decision
Court rules against Cherokees who sued the state of Georgia for taking their land and rights. The court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was “domestic dependent” and, thus, without status in court.
2000 – Ohio State Representative calls for the charter of the Cleveland Clinic Corporation to be revoked
The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that Ohio State Representative Barbara Pringle (with the help of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee) asked in a letter that Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery initiate charter revocation proceedings against the Cleveland Clinic Corporation. The Clinic wanted to purchase two Cleveland area hospitals, Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East and St. Michael Hospital, which would have to be shut down before the purchase. This would reduce the availability of healthcare to many Clevelanders and move toward greater healthcare monopolization. The charge was that the Clinic exceeded their legal authority as stipulated in its charter. This effort of citizen authority over corporations yielded media attention and played a role in the ultimate sale of the hospitals to another healthcare corporation, which kept them open.
2006 – “Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” is enacted
“On March 18, the townspeople of Barnstead, New Hampshire voted in favor of the ‘Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance’ in their Town Meeting, with only one dissenting vote. The ordinance not only bans corporations from taking water from Barnstead except for local use, but it also denies them corporate personhood. The preamble harks back to the days of the American Revolution: ‘We believe that the corporatization of water supplies in this community—placing the control of water in the hands of a corporate few, rather than the community—would constitute tyranny and usurpation; and that we are therefore duty bound, under the New Hampshire Constitution to oppose such tyranny and usurpation.'”
New Hampshire organizers of the Alliance for Democracy’s “Defending Water for Life” campaign worked the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Gail Darrell and citizens in Barnstead to achieve this victory. Ruth Caplan and Nancy Price lead that AfD campaign.