REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 18 – 24

March 18

1831 – Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia [30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1] court decision
Court rules against Cherokees who sued the state of Georgia for taking their land and rights. The court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was “domestic dependent” and, thus, without status in court.

2000 – Ohio State Representative calls for the charter of the Cleveland Clinic Corporation to be revoked
The Akron Beacon Journal reported today that Ohio State Representative Barbara Pringle (with the help of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee) asked in a letter that Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery initiate charter revocation proceedings against the Cleveland Clinic Corporation. The Clinic wanted to purchase two Cleveland area hospitals, Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East and St. Michael Hospital, which would have to be shut down before the purchase. This would reduce the availability of healthcare to many Clevelanders and move toward greater healthcare monopolization. The charge was that the Clinic exceeded their legal authority as stipulated in its charter. This effort of citizen authority over corporations yielded media attention and played a role in the ultimate sale of the hospitals to another healthcare corporation, which kept them open.

2006 – “Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” is enacted
“On March 18, the townspeople of Barnstead, New Hampshire voted in favor of the ‘Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance’ in their Town Meeting, with only one dissenting vote. The ordinance not only bans corporations from taking water from Barnstead except for local use, but it also denies them corporate personhood. The preamble harks back to the days of the American Revolution: ‘We believe that the corporatization of water supplies in this community—placing the control of water in the hands of a corporate few, rather than the community—would constitute tyranny and usurpation; and that we are therefore duty bound, under the New Hampshire Constitution to oppose such tyranny and usurpation.'”

New Hampshire organizers of the Alliance for Democracy’s “Defending Water for Life” campaign worked the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), Gail Darrell and citizens in Barnstead to achieve this victory. Ruth Caplan and Nancy Price lead that AfD campaign.

March 19

2003 – South Dakota constitutional amendment promoted by Dakota Rural Action prohibiting most corporate ownership of real estate used for agriculture overturned
Amendment E to the South Dakota Constitution, passed in 1998, prohibited corporations from owning farmland and otherwise engaging in farming in South Dakota, with certain exceptions. The Eighth Circuit Federal Court on this day ruled that Amendment E violated the dormant Commerce Clause because the amendment discriminated against out-of-state interests

2003 – New tobacco company chartered in Virginia – Licensed to Kill Inc.
Cofounder Robert Hinkley declared the company’s purpose was to manufacture and market its product in a way that “generates profits for investors while each year killing over 400,000 Americans and more than 4.5 million other people worldwide.” Their motto – “We’re rich, you’re dead” – and the corporation were created to demonstrate how states sanction and protect corporate crimes. Virginia didn’t want to grant the charter, but had no choice, as the corporation’s structure and purpose did not break any laws.

March 20

2013 – Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of Pennsylvania’s Washington County Court of Common Pleas rules that corporations are not persons
Judge O’Dell-Seneca declared, “In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it…the constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.”
Decision at

2018 – Published article, “Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: An Investigative Reporter Talks Glyphosate”
“I’m under the impression that the studies that chemical companies submit to the EPA are often confidential, so that independent scientists never get a chance to see it.
“Yes. I’ve gotten copies of them myself, and every single page is stamped “Trade Secret. Confidential.” That is a problem. Over time, independent researchers and scientists have done a number of studies on glyphosate and Roundup, and they have found problems. And some of that is what IARC looked at and how they came to their conclusion.”
[Note: Many original corporate charters, issued by the state, stipulated that certain internal documents had to be available for periodic public inspection. That was prior to corporate attorneys convincing activist Supreme Court Justices that their corporate clients should be granted Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights intended solely for human persons]

March 21

1877 – National Farmers Alliance established – populists challenge corporate power
Commonly known as the “Northern Alliance,” farmers collectively organized against unfair railroad practices and advocated for tax reforms and legalization of insurance companies sponsored by the Grange. Southern farmers organized several years earlier, calling themselves the “Southern Alliance,” in support of abolishing national banks and monopolies, issuing Greenback or Fiat paper money, a national monetary system (called the “Sub-Treasury” plan), progressive taxes, and more.

The Farmers Alliances’ were involved in extensive political and economic education (much of it focused on the power of banks and railroads and the need for public ownership of certain public services), formed cooperatives to sell their produce and goods, published newspapers, and, through the creation of the Populist Party, ran candidates for public office — winning numerous U.S. Senate and House seats. As the largest national social movement in the history of the country, it was a major threat to the political and economic power structures. Internal political and strategic divisions and lack of acceptance of people of color limited its effectiveness, which along with opposition from corporations and the super wealthy, contributed to its demise.

March 22

2000 – Letter to Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School by Richard L. Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD]
“I heard you interviewed recently on radio. I am writing to say how refreshing it was indeed to hear a physician talk with passion against the “corporatization” — the literal factoryization—of disease care and health care.

But it’s only logical, no? The rest of our society has been/is being transformed into assembly lines—of work, of art, of the mind and of the soul. Listening to you, I thought of Martin Niemöller, the German Protestant pastor who told how he sat by when the Nazis came for people by category…But the corporate assembly lines came for the workers, and the doctors were silent…

They came for the educators, and then the legislators, and the judges, and the mayors—and the doctors could not be heard. The corporate assembly lines came for the free press, they came for our elections . . . Now, they’re coming for our genes, for food, for the basic biological building blocks of life . . . and where are the doctors? It’s all been of a piece. The corporate assembly lines have come for and gone away with our Constitution, our liberty, our Declaration of Independence. So who should be surprised that now they’ve come for you? Why should anyone care?

But the fact is, plenty of people care … all the people across generations and vocations who have been resisting the corporate assembly-lining of life and death and work and thought and of the natural world.
So it’s not too late for you, for your colleagues, for your students, for your patients, for your spleens and livers. It’s not too late to sew the histories together; to make solidarity connections.

To speak out. To resist. To join with others. To design new designs…The few are coming for the many. As in Nazi Germany, they target people category by category—in the process making each category of people a little less human. They are coming with the protection of the law—of the police, of our learned judges—with the assistance of our own government.

It’s a pisser, Jerry, isn’t it?”

March 23

1888 – Death of Morrison Waite, chief justice of the US Supreme Court, when corporations are first granted unalienable constitutional rights
Morrison was chief justice at the time of the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co (118 US 394) decision. The Court ruling focused exclusively on a tax issue. However, the court reporter (and former banker), J.C. Bancroft, added his own summary in the headnotes for the case and nowhere else — granting the railroad equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. After the fact, Waite said this about the headnotes question: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids any state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are of the opinion that it does.” Thus, the onslaught of anointing corporations with never intended constitutional rights began in earnest.

1971 – Proposed 26th Amendment reducing the right to vote from 21 to 18 years of age passes Congress
Both the House and Senate passed the proposed amendment and sent to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the states in just 3 months, 8 days — the quickest time for any amendment. The 26th Amendment became part of the Constitution on July 1, 1971.

March 24

2010 – “On the History of Corporate Personhood and a Broad Amendment strategy for Overturning It” posting by Mary Zepernick on the Alliance for Democracy website
“At the outset, legal persons were white propertied men, 55 of whom gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, closed their doors and replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution – sealing their records for half a century. The historian James Beard referred to them as the ‘well bred, well fed, well read, and well wed!

“Cape Cod’s revolutionary pamphleteer and playwright Mercy Otis Warren when the new document was unveiled: ‘the Senate is too oligarchical; the country is too big to be governed by a strong federal system, and where are the rights of the people?

Why is the “Campaign to Legalize Democracy” ( using a broad amendment strategy? In effect, we are seizing the opportunity to exercise active control over our Constitution – not a document belonging to the Courts, nor to the Congress nor to the Chief Executive, but to us, the people’s Constitution. At this stage, no one knows the “right” path to take. This is a long term, multi-layered challenge. It’s not a contest but a collaboration between two approaches (and probably more to come).”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 11 – 17

March 11

1888 – Former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes on corporate power
“The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations. — How is this?” From his diary on this day.

2012 – Freedom, Maine residents pass resolution calling for a constitutional amendment ending corporate “personhood”
Gotta love the name of the town! The resolution was passed by a majority of residents at a Town Hall meeting.

March 12

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.”

March 13
1933 – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in dissenting opinion in Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee (288 U.S. 517)
The people of Florida passed a law that levied higher taxes on chain stores than on locally-owned stores. The Supreme Court overturned the law citing the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Interstate Commerce clause.

Justice Brandeis in his dissenting opinion stated:
“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.

“Although the value of this instrumentality in commerce and industry was fully recognized, incorporation for business was commonly denied long after it had been freely granted for religious, educational, and charitable purposes.

“It was denied because of fear. Fear of encroachment upon the liberties and opportunities of the individual. Fear of the subjection of labor to capital. Fear of monopoly. Fear that the absorption of capital by corporations, and their perpetual life, might bring evils similar to those which attended mortmain [immortality]. There was a sense of some insidious menace inherent in large aggregations of capital, particularly when held by corporations.”

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.'”

March 14

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.”

March 15

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.

1838 – New Hampshire Chief Justice William M. Richardson, author of the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (17 U.S. 518), 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 the landmark Dartmouth College decision.

1941 — Publication of congressional “Temporary National Economic Committee” final report “on the Concentration of Economic Power in the United States”
“The principal instrument of the concentration of economic power and wealth has been the corporate charter with unlimited power . . .”

March 16

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 1827: “Incorporated companies with proper limitations and guards may, in particular cases, be useful; but they are at best a necessary evil only.”
Letter to James K. Paulding, quoted in “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People,’ and How You Can Fight Back” by Thom Hartmann, p. 103.

March 17

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.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 4 – 10

March 4

1791 – States begin to loosen property rights for voting
Only white, male, property owners had the full slate of rights under the U.S. Constitution. Voting was only permitted originally by this small percentage of the population. Vermont was the first state to have no property requirements for voting, which joined the union on this date (not really abolishing, just never having to begin with). New Jersey became the first state in 1807 to abolish property rights for voting after having originally having them. Unfortunately, at the same time they permitted voting to all while male citizens without property who paid taxes, the state in the “Suffrage Reform Act” rescinded voting rights for women who had previously voted between 1797 and 1807.

1861 – Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address – on judicial review
Abraham Lincoln addressed the issue of “judicial review” during his first inaugural address. Judicial review is the doctrine permitting the judicial branch of government to review executive and legislative branch actions to ensure they are constitutional. Many have claimed this authority, not explicitly granted in the Constitution, gives the judicial branch undue power over the rest of government. Lincoln in his 1861 address said: “The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

1918 – Birth of Wayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland corporation
“There is not one grain of anything in the world that is sold in the free market. Not one. The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.”

March 5

1877 – Corporate CEO Thomas Scott brokers deal to end Reconstruction and install Rutherford B. Hayes as U.S. President
The 1876 presidential election was arguably the most controversial in US history. Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, won the popular vote and seemingly the electoral vote over Hayes. Twenty electoral votes, however, were in dispute. A special commission was formed. It was controlled by Thomas Scott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and composed of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. Scott delivered the votes to Hayes in the “Compromise of 1877” in exchange for a federal bailout of failing railroad investments. Hayes also agreed to pull federal troops from the South (ending Reconstruction and the launch of Jim Crow). Those troops were shifted to the North to put down the first national labor strikes in 1877 in which over 100 strikers were killed.

2014 – US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warns that international treaty ISDS provisions threaten sovereignty
In a dissent in BG Group vs Republic of Argentina, Roberts warned that unelected and unaccountable Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal posses the power to review a nation’s laws and “effectively annul the authoritative acts of its legislature, executive, and judiciary.” ISDS tribunal arbitrators “can meet literally anywhere in the world” and “sit in judgment” on a nation’s “sovereign acts.”

March 6

1857 – US. Supreme Court decides Dred Scott v. Sanford (60 U.S. 393) – affirming slaves are property
Supreme Court affirms Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution (the Return Servants clause). Slaves are property and Congress cannot deprive citizens of their property. Slaves are “not citizens of any state” and “have no rights a court must respect.”

[Note: Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property while corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.]

1935 – Death of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
…[T]he notion that a business is clothed with a public interest and has been devoted to the public use is little more than a fiction intended to beautify what is disagreeable to the sufferers. The truth seems to me to be that, subject to compensation when compensation is due, the legislature may forbid or restrict any business when it has a sufficient force of public opinion behind it.”
Dissenting opinion in Tyson & Brother v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418

2013 – US Attorney General Eric Holder on prosecuting banking corporations for illegal activities
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
This from a guy who as the head of our justice system under the Obama administration practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. Barack Obama received huge political contributions (actually more like investments) from banksters and banking and financial corporations.

March 7

322 BC – Death of Aristotle – Greek philosopher, educator
“Democracy arose from men’s thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal absolutely.” Ah, women too!

1976 – Death of John William Wright Patman, Democratic Congressman 1938-1978, Committee Chairman on Banking & Currency
“In the United States today, we have two governments. We have the duly constituted government and then we have an independent, uncontrolled and uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System operating the money powers which are reserved for Congress by the Constitution.”

March 8

2011 – Publication this month of the article “This isn’t about peace. It’s about democracy,” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal
“And so we return to the too-familiar, difficult question of what to do?…Few still believe the answer is taking warm clothing and hand-knit caps to the people in Kabul’s camps — although I took along an extra suitcase of just those things. Few still believe that marching with placards past empty offices in the nation’s capital is much of an answer — although I participate in as many of those as I can. Few believe that having hundreds arrested in Washington or in government offices back home will bring change — although it is certainly critical to keep alive the spirit of protest…But how do we move from a relative handful of committed believers, to emulating Tahrir Square in every nation’s capital, to halting and dismembering Empire?…

That means something more than fixing the wrongs. It means making the rules, defining the terms, running the show — in a word: governing ourselves…

I believe the messages of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and Move to Amend, arguing the case for a self-governing citizenry, make good sense, no matter the audience.”

March 9

1997 – Sermon “We the People: Building a Truly Democratic Society” by Ward Morehouse, POCLAD principal, at the UU Fellowship, Frederick, Maryland
“Establishing our democracy must begin with citizens prepared to devote themselves to challenging the status quo, and to disrupting the contours of power. But the ultimate task, William Greider reminds us, is much more difficult—creating something that does not now exist—the basis for politics as a shared enterprise…My modest hope for the time we are together is, as I suggested at the outset, to persuade you to launch what Greider calls a ‘democratic insurgency,’ individually and collectively.

“This insurgency will not begin with abstract ideas or charismatic political leaders. Its origins will lie among ordinary people who have the will to engage themselves with their surrounding reality and to act on the conflict between what they are told and what they experience—thus disrupting existing structures of power and opening up paths for renewal.”

2010 – Death of Granny D, who walked across the nation for campaign finance reform
The failed initial efforts of Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold to regulate political campaign finances in 1995 sparked the interest of Doris “Granny D” Haddock in campaign finance reform. She began a cross country walk on January 1, 1999 at the age of 88. She arrived and spoke at the US Capital 14 months later. Her march generated publicity wherever she stopped. One month later, she was arrested with others inside the Capital for reading the Declaration of Independence.

Granny D died two months after the uS Supreme Court decided the Citizens United vs FEC case, which overturned the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act.

2011 – Congressional resolution introduced calling for an environmental and social responsibility amendment to the United States Constitution
House Resolution 156 resolved that the —
(1) Constitution of the United States should be amended to subordinate the political rights of corporations to the rights of individuals; and
(2) laws of the United States should be amended to include a public Federal election campaign finance system, a social and environmental responsibility education initiative, and a new Federal corporate charter statute to facilitate environmentally and socially responsible corporate practices.

The resolution was inspired by the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives. The full text of their proposed amendment is at

March 10

1899 – State of Delaware adopts general incorporation law
“Delaware acquired its status as a corporate haven in the early 20th century. Following the example of New Jersey, which enacted corporate-friendly laws at the end of the 19th century to attract businesses from New York, Delaware adopted on March 10, 1899, a general incorporation act aimed at attracting more businesses. The group that pushed for this legislation was not acting entirely from altruism, as they intended to establish a corporation that would help other businesses incorporate in Delaware. Before the rise of general incorporation acts, forming a corporation required a special act of the state legislature. General incorporation allowed anyone to form a corporation by simply raising money and filing articles of incorporation with the state’s Secretary of State. Over 50% of publicly traded corporations in the United States and 60% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in the state.”

1999 – “Corporations and the Public Interest” talk by Karen Coulter at the Environmental Law Conference, Eugene, Oregon
“Corporate rule…has been made to appear inevitable and too immense and unfathomable to overthrow. The individual’s freedoms and abilities have been narrowly circumscribed as the courts have increasingly given corporations more powers. The torrents of ongoing abuses of wealth and power are seen as the status quo, regarded as normal costs of doing business, and as nothing that can ever be subject to more than limited reforms…However courts are mutable, with tremendous reversals and new precedents that come about as a result of public agitation and consequent shifts in the political climate. And there are ways to shift the locus of power from arbitrary judicial fiat based on outdated elevation of private property rights as the highest good back to popular mandates protecting the overall welfare of real human beings and the Earth. Our biggest stumbling block to lasting, systemic social change is our perceptions — ourselves — not physical impediments.”
Coulter is a Principal of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD); directs the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project; and is the author of Rule of Property

2018 – The NRA sues to block Florida’s new gun law claiming it violates 2nd and 14th Amendments
“The group is arguing that young women really need their guns.
“The NRA on Friday filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida contending that the new Florida law violates the Second and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms, and the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.”


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 25 – March 3

February 25

1791 – Creation of the First Bank of the United States
The federal government issued a 20-year charter (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the first national private bank. The bank was given permission to create money as debt. Its paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned, and 75% of those were foreign owned (mostly by the English and Dutch).  Alexander Hamilton championed the first national private bank; Jefferson, Madison and others opposed it.

1986 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations have “negative speech” rights
The Court decreed in Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission (475 U.S. 1) that a consumer advocacy group could not force the company to use extra space in their billing envelope for information. This upheld the corporation’s right not to speak (“negative speech” rights) and protected the corporation’s “freedom of mind.”

Justice William Rehnquist, appointed by Richard Nixon, dissented, declaring that, “[n]or do I believe that negative free speech rights, applicable to individuals and perhaps the print media, should be extended to corporations generally.” In a separate dissent, Justices White, Stevens and Rehnquist stated: “To ascribe to such entities an ‘intellect’ or ‘mind’ for freedom of conscience purposes, is to confuse metaphor with reality.”

2011 – “Commentary: Watson for president” by Tom Eblen, The Lexington Herald-Leader
“Since the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that corporations are people, why can’t computers be politicians?

“Machines programmed to make decisions based on facts and logic would be an improvement over many of the human robots controlled by special interests who now run our government.”

February 26

1913 – Conclusion of Pujo Committee Hearings in Congress: Wall Street holds massive financial power
A committee of Congress, headed by House Banking and Currency Committee Chair, Arsene Pujo, investigated the Wall Street banking “Money Trust” from 1912-1913. The Committee’s report identified a financial network of Wall Street bankers linked by 341 interlocking directorships held in 112 corporations valued at more than $22 billion connected to the Morgan and Rockefeller empires. These bankers exerted identifiable control over the US monetary system and economy.

February 27

1934 – Birth of Ralph Nader, consumer activist
From “Can the Left and Right Unite to End Corporate Rule? An Interview with Ralph Nader and Daniel McCarthy” in Yes! Magazine. Nader says, “[L]iberalism and conservatism, in various ways, have been hijacked by corporatism. …I think this is an area conservatives are beginning to explore. They’re a bit queasy about corporations—which are artificial entities created by the state—having equal constitutional rights with real people. When they see corporate-managed trade agreements, like NAFTA, subordinating local, state, and national sovereignty to the imperatives of global commerce, they get quite upset. …When Democrats started to dial for the same corporate dollars around 1979 as did the Republicans, economic issues that relate to corporatism were taken off the table.”

Another quote from Ralph: “General Motors could buy Delaware… if Du Pont were willing to sell it.”

1960 – Beginning of the Nonviolent Sit-in Movement
Among those arrested at this action, which spread throughout the South to desegregate lunch counters, was Diane Nash, spokesperson for the action. Nash co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important organizations during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement.

February 28

1932 — Birth of Richard Deats, author and minister
“Democracy is the institutionalization of nonviolent problem-solving in the social order.”
(from The Global Spread of Active Nonviolence, Fellowship, July-August 1996)

2011 – Town of Lincoln, VT approves a resolution to end corporate personhood
Simply limiting money in elections from wealthy individuals without addressing “corporate personhood” allows individuals to hide behind the corporate veil and constitutional shield by claiming never-intended protections of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments, as well as of the Commerce and Contracts clauses of the Constitution to prevent or overturn democratically enacted laws and regulations.

March 1

1781 – Ratification of the Articles of Confederation
This was the first Constitution of the United States, preceding our current constitution by eight years. Provisions included:
-Unicameral legislature with only one house of the Congress.
-No system of national courts or executive branch
-One vote per state irrespective of the size of the state.
-Levying taxes in hands of the state government
-Power to coin and borrow money
-Time limits on holding public office
-No standing army or navy
-No provision for national government interference in commerce and trade – each state could impose tariffs on trade.

This last provision regarding decentralized decision-making on commerce and trade was the pretext for a gathering to  “amend” the Articles. Once gathered, the delegates replaced entirely the Articles with an entirely new proposed constitution that was, in many respects, more top-down and favorable to commercial interests.

1990 – Publication of “Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights,” by Carl J. Mayer, 41 Hastings L.J. 577, 658-59
“[T]he extension of corporation constitutional rights is a zero-sum game that diminishes the rights and powers of real individuals.” Note: This law review article is arguably the clearest and most thorough legal analysis describing how corporations acquired specific constitutional rights and underlines how our current problems connected to corporate rule go back more than a century.
Source: /

2019 – Beginning of Town Meeting “season” in many New England states
“A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. This is a town- or city-level meeting where decisions are made, in contrast with town hall meetings held by state and national politicians to answer questions from their constituents, which have no decision-making power.”

Several New England states hold their annual Town Meetings in March (Maine, Vermont, N. Hampshire) while others range from February to June.

March 2

1867 – First of Four Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress — Reconstruction Era begins in former Confederate states
The purpose of the Acts was to ensure that all federal laws were to be enforced. This included removing Confederates from power, protecting African Americans and enfranchising black men. Blacks were elected to Congress (both House and Senate) throughout the South. The Era ended with the “Compromise of 1877” when U.S. Army troops were removed as part of deal by Southern Democrats in Congress over the election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes for President.

1892 – Ohio Supreme Court ruled against the right of Standard Oil in 1892 to form a trust but permitted the company to retain its corporate charter (license to exist)
“The state, by its Attorney General, commenced this action to oust the defendant of the right to be a corporation, on the ground that it has abused its corporate franchises, by becoming a party to an agreement that is against the public policy.” (i.e. a trust) That a corporation is a legal entity, apart from the natural
persons who compose it, is a mere fiction, introduced for convenience in the transaction of its business, and of those who do business with it; but like every other fiction of the law, where used to an intent and purpose not within its reason and policy, may be disregarded. When all, or a majority of the stockholders, composing a corporation, do an act… and the act so done is ultra vires of the corporation and against public policy, and was done in their individual capacities for the purpose of concealing their real purpose and object, the act should be regarded as the act of the corporation; and, to prevent the abuse of corporate power, may be challenged as such by the state in a proceeding in quo warranto.” [State ex rel. Attorney General v. Standard Oil Co. (1892), 49 Ohio St. 137] [Note: “Ultra vires” means acting beyond one’s authority while “quo warranto” means having to demonstrate or prove by what authority one has acted.]

1992 – Publication of the article “Your Honor,” by Honorable Edward J. Devitt United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota in Handbook for Judges, Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society)
“Being called ‘Your Honor’ day in and day out is a constant reminder, not alone of the prestige of the office, but more importantly of the tremendous power and heavy responsibility and absolute independence of the federal judge.

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

March 3

1777 – Birth of Roger Taney Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford (60 U.S. 393) decision
“[T]he right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”
[Note: The statute of Taney on the grounds of the Maryland state capital in Annapolis was removed in the middle of the night in August, 2017. About damn time!].

1871 – Indian Appropriation Act declares all Indian treaties void and makes all Indians wards of the federal government
The US broke more than 300 treaties with Indian tribes and nations during its history. Rights of indigenous people to live on their native lands were ignored.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 18 – 24

February 18

1922 – Capper Volstead Act, a “Magna Carta of Cooperation,” becomes law
The Co-operative Marketing Associations Act provided “associations” of persons producing agricultural products certain exemptions from antitrust laws. Before its passage, corporations used the Sherman Act and Clayton Antitrust Act to challenge farmers from forming voluntary cooperative associations to process, handle and market their products. The Act represented the result of a long struggle by farmers for their right to organize cooperatives.

February 19

1942 – Japanese-Americans forced into Concentration Camps in the United States (Executive Order 9066)
Executive order by Franklin Delano Roosevelt forces 111,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents into concentration camps until 1946.

February 20

1895 – Death of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, social reformer, orator, and writer
“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

1996 – First performance of Raging Grannies, Olympia, WA
Raging Grannies are groups of older women across the US and other countries who dress up in older women’s attire and sing political songs at public events on a range of topics — including peace, justice, the environment and corporate power. Original lyrics are connected to the tunes of well known songs.

Here are the lyrics of one song from the Seattle group

Corporations Are Persons Now!
tune: Bicycle Built for Two

Brib’ry, Bri’bry, NOW is the law of the land.
Cor-por-a-tions can DO-OO what once was banned.
The SuPREMES have set a precedent
Now WAL-mart can be president.
’Cause BUS’NESS has rights
And TO their delight
Cor-por-a-tions are persons now!

Fair campaigning NOW is a thing of the past.
Those with money OWN the elections at last!
The BUY all the TV ad times,
And RUN their SU-per-PAC slime.
(speak:) To hell with the truth!
Cor-por-a-tions are persons now!

February 21

2012 – Board of commission of Orange County CA passes a resolution supporting an amendment to the Constitution declaring that corporations are not people
This action is part of the growing movement to end the bizarre legal doctrine that corporations, creations of the state, possess many of the same Constitutional rights, including those in the Bill of Rights, as human persons.

February 22

1838 – As white men gain voting rights, free black men lose theirs
“Since Jackson’s presidency, there’s been a push to give all white men the vote, even if they don’t own property.
Right now, free black men have the vote in several states. But as states revamp their constitutions to loosen voter requirements for white men, blacks are being stripped of rights they had. Pennsylvania’s constitution of 1790 gave the vote to ‘every freeman of the age of twenty-one years.’
Today that was changed to say ‘every white freeman.’”
Harper’s Weekly Source:

1966 – Passage of Bank Merger Act
Anti-competitive mergers are permitted if they are outweighed by the convenience and needs of the community to be served.

1987 – Death of Andy Warhol , pop artist
“I am a deeply superficial person.”
If you think that statement is oxymoronic, how about this: a “corporate person.”

February 23

1868 – Birth of W.E.B. DuBois, African American activist, scholar, writer, and co-founder of the NAACP
“It cannot be reconciled with any philosophy of democracy that 50,000,000 white folk of the British Empire should be able to make the destiny of 450,000,000 yellow, brown and black people a matter of solely their own internal decision.”

1869 – Minnesota Grange is organized
The national Grange, founded by former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley, became a powerful political force against corporate monopolies among western farmers.

Minnesota Grangers resolved in 1873: “We, the farmers, mechanics and laborers of Minnesota, deem the triumph of the people in this contest with monopolies essential to the perpetuation of our free institutions and the promotion of our private and national prosperity.”

February 24

1803 – U.S. Supreme Court establishes supreme authority of the U.S. Supreme Court
Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137) established the concept of “judicial review.” The Supreme Court ruled that they were supreme, and Congress did not contest it. This gave them the power to make law. President Jefferson said: “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

A fine article explaining the problems of judicial review is “The Case Against Judicial Review: Building a strong basis for our legal system.”


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 11 – 17

February 11

1812 – Birth of Thomas Welles Bartley, Ohio Supreme Court Justice who defied a US Supreme Court decision by claiming a corporate charter was a democratic law, not a contract protected by the Constitution
Bartley wrote the majority opinion in an 1853 Ohio Supreme Court tax-related case (The Bank of Toledo v. The City of Toledo and John R. Bond) and concurred with the majority in three other tax cases during the same year asserting the right of legislatures to tax the banks, which the banks claimed was a violation of the banks’ franchise. The Ohio Supreme Court decisions directly challenged the 1819 Dartmouth v. Woodward U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“Bartley held the position that the franchise of a private corporation always was subservient to the public welfare and a charter or contract between a private corporation and the state that created the franchise was in reality a law, not a contract, and did not fall under the purview of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. His opinion also stated that the power to tax could not be surrendered by the legislature and that, while the government is bound in good faith to protect contracts and private property, its paramount obligation is to protect the public welfare… 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).”

February 12

1809 – Birth of Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse.”
From First Inaugural Address, 1861

1999 – “Human Rights vs. Corporate ‘Rights'” by Mary Zepernick
“Some folks, alarmed by the corporate usurpation of our power to govern, seek to ‘level the playing field.’ But this is not the people v. corporations suiting up for a contest between two equal teams. Becoming self-governing, in charge of our common life and institutions, isn’t a game; it’s the work of We the People… Corporations should be servants of the people, not their masters.”
Source: OpEd published in Cape Cod Times

2018 – Congress introduces record number of bills to prevent people from taking industry to court
“Industry-friendly lawmakers are waging a coordinated campaign with the Trump administration to strip Americans of their legal rights to use the courts to hold polluting companies and the government itself accountable for violations of bedrock environmental laws and other important public protections.

“Members of Congress have introduced more than 50 bills over the past year that would make it extremely difficult or impossible for people to seek justice in a court of law, according to an in-depth analysis by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. The proposed bills are targeting laws related to environmental protection, public health, consumer rights, and civil liberties.”

February 13

2014 – Publication this month of “Banking on Never-Ending Power and Rights” by Greg Coleridge, By What Authority
“Given the increasing omnipotence of money in determining who gets elected, what political voices get heard, when laws get passed, which programs get funded and how regulations are enacted and implemented, understanding the role of banking corporations in the creation and circulation of our nation’s money and in their lock-down control of our “monetary system” is essential to (re)gain political and economic self-governance…

“Giving banking corpses the license to print money, however, dwarfs every other form of privatization/corporatization of our society in terms of transferring economic and political power…

“Compounding the power for banking corporations to freely create money is their ability to leverage existing bank deposits — via fractional reserve banking – and create ten or more times as much money as they actually have on deposit. That’s vast economic power. And with vast economic power comes vast political power…

“While different fundamental reforms divide the public from a practical standpoint (i.e. there’s only so many causes any one person can work on at one time), changing our nation’s basic legal and constitutional ground rules can unite us…

“Enacting Move to Amend’s ‘We the People Amendment’ declaring that only human beings, not corporations, possess inalienable constitutional rights and that political money is not equal to free speech helps all of us working for any fundamental reform.”

February 14

1837 – Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge Supreme Court decision, 36 U.S. 420 (1837)
“[T]he continued existence of a government would be of no great value, if by implications and presumptions, it was disarmed of the powers necessary to accomplish the ends of its creation; and the functions it was designed to perform, transferred to the hands of privileged corporations.”

2018 – Published article, “Saudi Arabia’s robot citizen is eroding human rights”
“Sophia may be the only robot citizen to date, but she is not entirely alone. In November 2017, Tokyo granted a chatbot official residence status in Shibuya ward of the city. Similarly, the European Parliament is considering the possibility of declaring some robots ‘electronic persons.”’ Sophia’s citizenship represents the latest move in the growing trend to personify and anthropomorphize our robotic counterparts—a movement that can have profound consequences for the rest of humanity…

“Sophia being a citizen represents something more sinister. Nobody is treating or acting like Sophia is a real citizen—we all see through the publicity stunt—but that’s where the real harm lies. If we can switch off our compassion and thoughts for fellow citizens, just as we do for Sophia, we might get in the habit of doing it to other humans.”

February 15

1820 – Birth of Susan B. Anthony – Quaker, abolitionist, pioneering suffragist
“Champion of temperance, abolition, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, Susan Brownell Anthony became one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement…

“When Congress passed the 14th and 15th amendments which give voting rights to African American men, Anthony and [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton were angry and opposed the legislation because it did not include the right to vote for women. Their belief led them to split from other suffragists…They formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, to push for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote…

“In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting. She was tried and fined $100 for her crime [which she never paid]…

“In 1888, she helped to merge the two largest suffrage associations into one, the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She led the group until 1900. She traveled around the country giving speeches, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions, and lobbying Congress every year for women.”

The Amendment giving women the right to vote was first introduced in Congress in 1878, arranged by Anthony and Stanton. What became known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

1904 – Death of Marc Hanna, political manager of President William McKinley, U.S. Senator, businessman
“There are two things important in politics. The first is money. I can’t remember what the second one is.”
McKinley’s 1896 campaign, orchestrated by Hanna, was (in)famous as the most expensive presidential contest to that date, and is regarded as setting the stage for “modern” American political campaigns.

February 16

2011 – Resolution introduced in Washington State Senate calling for a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not persons under U.S. law
Washington State Senator Adam Kline introduced the resolution.

February 17

1971 – Death of Adolf Berle, lawyer, educator, diplomat, and author of “The Modern Corporation and Private Property”
“A democracy is predicated on the idea that ordinary men and women are capable of governing themselves.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: February 4 – 10

February 4

1793 – Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act
The law (as well as a similar one adopted in 1850) was passed to expand constitutionally embedded property rights of slave owners (Art 1, Sec 4). The “return servants clause,” after all, defined people as property. Those Acts paid cash rewards from public funds for each slave captured, prohibited slaves from defending themselves in court, and prevented slaves being tried by juries.

1887 – Formation of the first regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) – a “sheep in wolf’s clothing”
Railroad corporations designed the ICC in response to public demands for fair rates and to prevent rate discrimination. It and subsequent regulatory agencies, however, were established chiefly to protect corporations from the public.

Prominent RR barons supported the ICC’s creation. Charles F. Adams (later President of the Union Pacific Railroad Co.) stated, “What is desired…is something having a good sound, but quite harmless [purpose], which will impress the popular mind with the idea that a great deal is being done, when, in reality, very little is intended to be done.”

So rather than have the public fundamentally control and define corporate actions via charters and/or create or expand public ownership of basic services, regulatory agencies were established. They have become the major target/distraction of activist opposition to corporate actions.

Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris calls them “Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing.” Her excellent description of the history is at

1921 – Birth of Betty Friedan, feminist, author, activist
Friedan authored the landmark text The Feminine Mystique, 1963. She founded National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and served as its president from 1966-1970. She organized the Women’s Strike for Equality on 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage on August 26, 1970 and a campaign of civil disobedience at White House in1992.

February 5

1900 – Birth of Adlai Stevenson II, Democratic Party Presidential candidate
“The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal…is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

2018 – Published article, “No More Fairy Tales: Why the United States Needs a Whole New Operating System” by Thomas Linzy
“This belief that we live in a democracy is most clearly tested when we come face-to-face with threats to our own communities.

“Let’s actually face it. Even our own towns, cities, counties, villages—you name them—are utterly overwhelmed when a big corporation squeezes into town. Not only are they mismatched in resources against a new corporate hog farm project, or toxic waste incinerator, but they find themselves on the wrong end of the law.

“Because corporations have constitutional “rights,” if a community makes a decision to stop a bad project that has been permitted by the state or federal government, a corporation has the ability to sue the community to force its project into the town.

“There’s no self-government at work here.”

February 6

1950 – Supreme Court decision: United States v. Morton Salt Co., (338 U.S. 632, 650) – corporations are endowed with public attributes
Corporations “are endowed with public attributes. They have a collective impact upon society, from which they derive their privilege as artificial entities.”

February 7

1919 – Michigan Supreme Court rules that the primary purpose of corporations is profit
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in Dodge v. Ford Motor Co. (170 NW 668), “A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end.”

“Stockholder Primacy” is established. This is still the leading case on corporate purpose. Henry Ford was sued by his shareholders for a plan in which he proposed to sell his cars at below-market prices so he could create more jobs and “spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes.” The Court ruled against Ford and for maximizing profit for stockholders.

February 8

1887 – Passage of Dawson Land Allotment Act
Ownership of communal land by indigenous people became illegal. Millions of acres of collectively owned native lands are sold to white squatters.

1996 – Telecommunications Act becomes law – results in more media concentration, less diversity, and higher prices
The Act was the first major revisions of the 1934 Communications Act. The law literally gave corporate broadcasters for free up to $70 billion worth of public airwaves in TV licenses, who have failed to use the licenses to serve the public interest – including providing substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of congressional, local and state elections. The Act also ended limits on how many radio and TV stations could be owned by one corporation, deregulated cable rates, eased cross-ownership rules between broadcast and cable networks, and reduced public accountability by extending the term of a broadcast license and making it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.

The legislation was supposed to save consumers $550 billion, including $333 billion in
lower long-distance rates, $32 billion in lower local phone rates, and $78 billion in lower cable bills. But according to Common Cause, “cable rates surged by about 50 percent, and local phone rates went up more than 20 percent” in the first 10 years. “And study after study has documented that profit-driven media conglomerates are investing less in news and information, and that local news in particular is failing to provide viewers with the information they need to participate in their democracy.

Media corporations invested heavily via lobbying and campaign contributions in support of the Act.

2012 — “Is The USA The Only Nation in the World With Corporate Personhood?” article posted on OpEd News by Rob Kall
“It’s not surprising to learn that no nation on earth enshrines in its constitution the right of corporate personhood…

“I asked, ‘So, from what you know, having looked at 186 foreign constitutions, none of them offer corporate personhood rights.’

“Versteeg replied, ‘I’m pretty sure that none of them do and also, foreign constitutions tend to be more explicit. They can be 400 pages long and I haven’t seen any of that and I’m pretty sure about it.”

“Professor Law added, ‘It is quite popular in other countries to have some kind of restriction in the constitution on property rights, how property can be used. Property rights have to be consistent with social welfare. You can’t use property in such a way that it harms society. If you think of a corporation as a bundle of property rights, those specific clauses provide a basis for regulating corporations. You don’t have that kind of a limitation in the US constitution on property rights. There is more of a constitutional basis for regulation corporations than there is in this country.’

“Professors Law and Versteeg added the caveat that corporate personhood is not a right that is part of the US constitution and that it could be, like in the US, something that a court in another nation added. But they also pointed out that most nations revise or replace their constitution, on the average, every 19 years. That means that supreme courts have much less influence on the laws of most nations.”

February 9

1944 – Birth of Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

1993 – Judge rules General Motors Corporation can’t close its plant
Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton rules that General Motors cannot close down its Ypsilanti, Michigan Chevrolet Caprice passenger car plant, stating “by its statements and conduct,” GM promised to provide jobs at its Willow Run facility in exchange for over $13 million in tax breaks granted by the City of Ypsilanti in the 1980s.

The decision was based on the legal doctrine of promissory estoppel, that says if favors are granted as a result of a promise made, then the promise must be fulfilled.

“There would be a gross inequity and patent unfairness if General Motors, having lulled the people of Ypsilanti into giving up millions of tax dollars which they so desperately need to educate their children and provide basic governmental services, is allowed to simply decide that it will desert 4,500 workers and their families because it thinks it can make the same cars a little cheaper somewhere else…My conscience will not allow this injustice to happen,” wrote Shelton in the decision.

2010 – Statement (called a “Minute”) of Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) on Human Rights and Corporations
“A fundamental Friends belief is that every person has inherent worth and dignity regardless of religion, race, nationality, ethnicity, income, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation. Humans have the capacity for emotion, imagination, awareness, self-reflection, empathy, aspirations, reason, creativity, responsibility and more. Every human being possesses inalienable rights simply by being human. Government laws and constitutions have affirmed many of these rights.

“Corporations are not human and possess no human traits. They have no inalienable rights. They are entities, chartered by the State, with a purpose to serve the public by providing goods and/or services. They are nothing more than a set of legal documents much like deeds, wills and other warrants.

“Historically, corporations were created to be subordinate to human persons. The State can revoke a corporate charter if it does not follow its terms.

“Despite the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs FEC, granting corporations greater political free speech powers to contribute to political campaigns and despite past Supreme Court decisions granting corporations the same legal status as living, breathing human beings, rights reserved exclusively for human beings under the Bill of Rights and other sections of the US Constitution should not apply to corporations.

Corporations are not persons. Equating the two is not only a perversion of laws and constitutions but a usurpation of self-governance and perversion of life itself.“

February 10

1936 – Supreme Court decision declares that newspaper corporations have 1st Amendment free speech rights
A newspaper corporation has a 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech that would be applied to the states through the 14th Amendment, according to Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc. (297 U.S. 233). The Court ruled that the corporation was free to sell advertising in newspapers without being taxed. This is the first 1st Amendment protection for corporations. What gives a newspaper corporation this free speech right, however, is the fact that it delivers news and opinions, not that it is, per se, a corporation.

1944 – Birth of Frances Moore Lappé, author of 18 books including the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet
“Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of democracy.”


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: January 28 – February 3

January 28

2010 – “Cold Case Democracy and the Doctrine of ‘Corporate Personhood’” by Vi Ransel article posted on Global Research website
The article begins with this quote by Alex Carey and Andrew Lohrey:
“There have been two principal aspects to the growth of democracy in this century (20th): the extension of the popular franchise (e.g. the right to vote) and the growth of the union movement. These developments have presented corporations with potential threats to their power…”

January 29

1820 – Death of King George III of England
The major cause of the revolution by the American colonists was the widespread and prolonged seizure of their rights by the King and Parliament. The major vehicles for the seizure of rights were the Kings military arm (Redcoats) and his economic/political arm (“Crown” corporations). The later included the East India Company and many colonial corporations, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, etc. These corporations were given “life” by the King to engage in specific activities for a limited time. They had no inherent “rights” of their own, only temporary privileges granted by the Sovereign King.

1936 – First “sit down” strike in Akron, Ohio
A sit-down strike is a form of civil disobedience in which organized workers take over their work site by “sitting down” where they are. More effective than a “picket strike” by workers outside worksites, sit down strikes prevented owners from using violence (since it would destroy property), replace them with “scab” strikebreakers or sometimes from moving production elsewhere. It was a radical tool used effectively to win immediate wage increases and better working conditions and eventually union recognition in many industries across the U.S. — though the first such strikes were organized by workers without the support of their union leadership.

The most well known Flint sit down strike occurred later in 1936. The best description of the Akron strike was in the book “Industrial Valley” by Ruth McKinney.

January 30

1649 – King Charles I asserts his sovereignty over corporations
In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1664, the King sent inspectors to see whether this company had been complying with the terms of the charter. The company heads objected, declaring that such an inspection threatened their rights. On behalf of the King, the inspectors responded:
“The King did not grant away his sovereignty over you when he made you a corporation. When His Majesty gave you power to make wholesome laws, and to administer justice by them, he parted not with his right of judging whether justice was administered accordingly or not. When His Majesty gave you authority over such subjects as live within your jurisdiction, he made them not YOUR subjects, nor YOU their supreme authority.”

1882 – Birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, on the Bill of Rights
“”The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution not only to protect minorities against intolerance of majorities, but to protect majorities against the enthronement of minorities.”
Source: The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

1976 – U.S. Supreme Court declares money is equivalent to speech in Buckley v. Valeo [424 U.S. 1]
U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-4 in landmark decision that political money is equivalent to speech. This major ruling greatly expanded 1st Amendment “”free speech”” protections to include financial contributions to candidates and political parties. The decision opened the door to major increases in political campaign contributions (or investments).

January 31

1865 – 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enacted
Slavery is abolished in the U.S. (except in prisons). This Amendment changed Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution. People are no longer deemed “property.” Two decades later, however, the court will rule the reverse also to be true — that property organized as a corporation is a legal “person.”

1938 – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in dissent says “person” in the 14th Amendment doesn’t include the corporation
Dissenting in Connecticut General Life Ins. v. Johnson (303 U.S. 77) Justice Black states: “I do not believe the word “person” in the 14th Amendment includes corporations…[n]either the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection.”

2001 – California legislators oppose North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an open letter to US Trade Representative
“We are concerned…that as presently administered, the NAFTA and the WTO agreements diminish the sovereignty of states…and…shift decision-making power from elected officials to unelected international trade officials…[W]e, as California legislators, find it problematic to be told by remote and unelected trade officials the paradigms or standards we must apply in writing environmental and public health laws for the people of our state…[S]uch decisions are best made by elected officials in accessible and democratic fora.”

February 1

1872 – Birth of Alexander Meiklejohn, philosopher and educator
The 1st Amendment “does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think, what they believe about the general welfare.”

1902 – Birth of Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)…
Rest of poem, “Let America Be America Again,” at

2016 – Judy Ziewacz becomes first woman to lead the 100 year-old National Cooperative Business Association
The NCBA is the largest U.S. membership organization for cooperatives — businesses that are jointly-owned and democratically-controlled.

As of a few years ago, there were more than 29,000 cooperatives operating in every sector of the US economy, sustaining 2 million jobs each year, contributing $652 billion in annual sales and possessing $3 trillion in assets.

February 2

1819 – Supreme Court declares a corporate charter is a contract in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (17 U.S. 518), protected by the Contracts Clause of the Constitution
[2019 marks the 200th anniversary of this decision]
The New Hampshire legislature wished to convert the private Dartmouth College into a public university by changing its charter, or license, which had been originally issued by the King of England. The legislature believed that education was too important to be left to private interests; thus, the school needed to become publicly accountable. The Supreme Court sided with the College’s trustees, stating a corporate charter is a contract, not to be altered under the Constitution’s Contracts Clause.

The word “corporation” does not appear in the Constitution. The Court’s decision transformed a corporate charter issued by a government as a mere privilege into a contract that a government cannot alter. The ruling gave corporations standing in the Constitution. Governments had greater difficulty controlling corporations. States began to include specific limitations into charters they granted.

February 3

1870 – States ratify the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race
Black males gain the right to vote. “The right of citizens…to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

1924 – Death of Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States – on corporate power
“There was a time when corporations played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations.

“You know what happens when you are the servant of a corporation. You have in most instances no access to the men who are really determining the policy of the corporation. If the corporation is doing the things that it ought not to do, you really have no voice in the matter and must obey the orders, and you have, with deep mortification, to cooperate in the doing of things that you know are against the public interests, and at the same time you are submerged, your individuality is swallowed up in the individuality and purpose of a great organization.”
Source: “A people awakened. the story of Woodrow Wilson’s first campaign which carried New Jersey to the lead of the states in the great movement for the emancipation of the government” by Charles Reade Bacon, p 114.

2016 – “The Conservative Case for Campaign-Finance Reform” by Richard W. Painter published in the New York Times
“Why should conservative voters care? First, big money in politics encourages big government…
“Campaign contributions also breed more regulation…
“Social conservatives and faith-based voters should care about big money in politics because it drowns out their voices on issues from abortion and euthanasia to gambling and pornography…
“Our campaign-finance system is also a national security risk…
“All this is a betrayal of conservative values…
“More important, the system is a betrayal of the vision of participatory democracy embraced by the founders of our country…

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: January 21 – 27

January 21

2010 – Citizens United v. Federal Elections Committee [558 U.S.310] Supreme Court decision
Supreme Court overturns most provisions of McCain-Feingold legislation that restricts corporate money in federal elections and reverses a hundred-year precedent of Congressional authority to regulate federal elections. The decision merely expands already existing constitutional “rights” to spend money in elections.

2010 – Move to Amend national campaign is launched
Multi-racial and inter-generational outside-the-beltway grassroots organization begins. It seeks a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would abolish all never-intended inalienable constitutional rights for corporate entities (corporate “personhood”) and to end the doctrine that money is equivalent to free speech.

2017 – Women’s March – global marches to promote human rights, etc.
“The Women’s March was a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights. The rallies were aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, largely due to statements and positions attributed to him regarded by many as anti-women or otherwise offensive. It was the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history.The first planned protest was in Washington, D.C., and is known as the Women’s March on Washington.” Source: Wikipedia

January 22

1890 – The United Mine Workers Association (UMWA) was founded in Columbus, Ohio
The UMWA sought to improve the lives of miners through reduced work hours, higher wages, and improved mine safety conditions. In 1894, Ohio Mine Worker president John McBride stated, “All honest, ardent advocates of labor’s cause that corporate power, when aided and abetted by the judicial, executive and military arm of the state and national governments can and will override the rights of our people and oppress wage workers, regardless of the efforts of organized labor, as now constituted and directed, to prevent it… By entering into politics we can free ourselves from the chain of slavery

1973 – Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision
The Supreme Court rules that state statutes against abortion are vague and infringe on a woman’s 9th and 14th Amendment rights (to privacy). Abortion is legalized in the first trimester of pregnancy. (410 U.S. 113, 1973)

January 23

1964 – 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enacted
Poll taxes, which were used to keep Blacks and others from voting in some states, are abolished. “The right…to vote…shall not be denied…by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

2018 – Published article, “CFPB Drops Investigation Into Payday Lender That Contributed To Mick Mulvaney’s Campaigns”
“Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) quietly closed an investigation into a payday lender headquartered in Mulvaney’s home state Monday. The company previously donated to the former congressman’s political campaigns.

“Payday lender World Acceptance Corporation announced in a press release Monday that it received a letter from the CFPB stating that the financial watchdog had closed its nearly four-year investigation into the company’s marketing and lending practices. The company, which is headquartered in South Carolina, has given at least $4,500 in campaign donations to Mulvaney, who represented South Carolina in the House for six years before becoming President Donald Trump’s budget director last year.

“The CFPB declined comment on World Acceptance Corporation’s press release. The investigation followed a 2013 report by ProPublica and Marketplace that found World Acceptance Corporation issued loans that were ‘deceptively expensive’ and packaged with “nearly useless insurance products” while trapping borrowers in a ‘debt cycle.’”

January 24

1965 – Death of Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
“Lobbyists are the touts of protected industries.”

1910 – Birth of “Granny D” — grandmother who walked across the U.S. for campaign finance reform
Doris Haddock achieved national fame when, between the ages of 88 and 90, she walked across the continental United States to advocate for campaign finance reform. Granny D walked over 3200 miles, starting on January 1, 1999 in California and ending in Washington, DC on February 29, 2000. She touched tens of thousands of people — calling on the public and Congress to press for legislation that would curb private and corporate money in elections and to expand public financing of elections.

1993 – Death of Thurgood Marshall, civil rights advocate and Supreme Court Justice
As legal counsel for the NAACP, he argued 32 cases, before the U.S. Supreme Court, prevailing in 29 of them — most of them civil rights related. One of themwas Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (347 U.S. 483, 1954), which invalidated state-enforced racial segregation in the public schools.

January 25

2012 – Petaluma, CA City Council passes a resolution calling for a reversal of the Citizens United decision
Concerned democracy activists across the nation worked on such actions following the 2011 Citizens United decision. The lack of real democracy, however, predates Citizens United by more than a century. Modifying or even reversing the Supreme Court decision would not return the country to a democratic nirvana, because that reality did not exist. Creating real democracy will begin with overturning the doctrines of corporate personhood and money as speech that have been in force far longer than Citizens United.

January 26

1907 – Tillman Act enacted, corporate contributions illegal
This was the first legislation passed by Congress in the United States prohibiting monetary contribution to national political campaigns by corporations.

2016 – Washington Ballot Measure Approved for November Election
The Secretary of State’s Office for Washington State Elections certified Initiative 735 for the ballot today. I-735 will ask Washington voters to decide this November whether to join sixteen other states in calling for their state legislature and Congress to propose an amendment that makes clear that constitutional rights belong to human beings only and that money is not protected speech, effectively overturning the controversial decision in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“We are inspired by the tremendous efforts by our Washington volunteers in the WAmend Coalition and the people of Washington State who made this ballot measure a reality! This represents an overwhelming rejection of the Supreme Court’s expansion of corporate power,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Director of Move to Amend. “Voters in Washington have the opportunity to join a growing movement of people from all walks of life rejecting the overwhelming influence of big corporations in politics, and demanding a genuine democracy that is accountable to We the People, not wealthy interests.”

January 27

2010 – Death of Howard Zinn, Historian
“The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth. Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”

2014 – Release of the documentary “Legalize Democracy” by Move to Amend
“Legalize Democracy” is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about creating real democracy – why the We the People amendment (HJR 48) is needed, how social movements have historically produced fundamental change for justice and how you can get involved.
Watch it at


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: January 14 – 20

January 14

1914 – Death in this month of Ambrose Bierce, U.S. editorialist, journalist and writer
“Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.”

1938 – Birth of Dorothy Zellner – civil rights activist, feminist
Zellner was co-editor of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s newsletter, the Student Voice. “Zellner was arrested at a CORE demonstration in Miami in 1960 and participated in sit-ins in New Orleans before joining Julian Bond as co-editor of the Student Voice, which built community among SNCC’s widely dispersed field workers. She also became SNCC’s media relations person, helping generate support for the organization and bring it to national attention. She handled fundraising and helped screen volunteers for Freedom Summer. Zellner worked as a nurse for several years before joining the Center for Constitutional Rights in 1984. In 1998, she became director of publications and development for the Queens College School of Law. She lectures and writes frequently about the civil rights movement and co-edited Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. “

January 15

1929 – Birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two MLK quotes:
“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triples of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
Note: It’s no time to remain silent to injustice, corporate rule, and plutocracy.

Like so much else in society, however, corporations have hijacked part of the legacy of MLK – specifically his memorial in Washington, DC

“In the years before his assassination, King re-shifted his focus on economic justice in northern cities as well as the South. He launched the Poor People’s Campaign and put forth an economic and social bill of rights that espoused ‘a national responsibility to provide work for all.’ King advocated for a jobs guarantee, which would require the government to provide jobs to anyone who could not find one and end unemployment. The bill of rights also included ‘the right of every citizen to a minimum income’ and ‘the right to an adequate education.’”
From: “4 Ways Martin Luther King Was More Radical Than You Thought”

1958 – First of two days of arguments of NAACP v. Alabama before US Supreme Court – individual members have standing to protect individual rights, “corporate rights” not needed
“One of the most commonly cited examples of the need to protect constitutional rights for non-profits…That case [NAACP v. Alabama 357 U.S. 449 (1958)] centered on the NAACP’s refusal to comply with a state order to turn over its list of members residing in the state of Alabama. It’s a bit mystifying that so many cite this case as a reason to protect institutional rights when the majority ruling opens with this statement:

“’We think that petitioner argues more appropriately the rights of its members, and that its nexus with them is sufficient to permit that it act as their representative before this Court. In so concluding, we reject respondent’s argument that the Association lacks standing to assert here constitutional rights pertaining to the members, who are not, of course, parties to the litigation.’

It’s not an institutional right — or corporate right — but the rights of the individual members that gives standing to the institution in this case. And to be absolutely sure everyone got the point, they went further:

“’We hold that the immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner’s membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner’s members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.’

“In other words, the organization was properly asserting the constitutional rights of its individual members, because disclosure of the lists would violate those members’ individual rights. This was not an institutional right being asserted, but an individual right being exercised by an institution with a legitimate interest in so doing.”

January 16

2013 – Published article, “How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA”
“Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.”

January 17

1706 – Birth of Benjamin Franklin – claims bankers primary reason for Revolution
“The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction. The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the revolutionary war.”

1893 – Death of former President Rutherford B. Hayes
Hayes lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel Tilden in 1877. Twenty electoral votes were “unresolved.” The (s)election of Hayes as President was determined by a special commission, controlled by the CEO of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and made up of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. A deal was struck, The Compromise of 1877, that Hayes would receive the 20 electoral votes if he agreed to pull federal troops from the South, what ended Reconstruction and the launch of Jim Crow racist laws. Those same troops were shifted to put down the first national labor strike in 1877, resulting in the death of over 100 strikers.

1961 – Farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower — indicts the “military industrial complex”
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

January 18

2012 – American Sustainable Business Council report: “Small Businesses Reject Role of Money in Politics; View Citizens United Decision as Bad for Business
“Small business owners view the Citizens United decision as bad for small business: 66% of those surveyed said the two-year-old ruling that gives corporations unlimited spending power in elections is bad for small businesses. Only 9% said it was good for small business.”

The Council spans a growing network of business associations across the United States, which in turn represents over 200,000 businesses and 325,000 business executives, owners, investors, and others.

January 19

1980 – Death William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, challenger of corporate constitutional rights
Douglas provided several profound dissenting opinions challenging corporate constitutional rights. One example: In Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander (337 U.S. 562, 1949), he asserted, “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.”

2000 – Role of Foundations in Social Change — “Letter to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation” by Richard L. Grossman & Ward Morehouse of POCLAD
“Foundation money in general perpetuates the idea that dominion over corporate decisions is not the public’s business, indeed, is well beyond the public’s constitutional authority. With few exceptions, the foundations which demonstrate interest in giant corporations:
1. give money in small dollops to many small citizen groups resisting specific corporate assaults…one at a time, ad infinitum;
2. give larger dollops to trustworthy cultural icons to promote voluntary corporate codes of conduct and encourage ‘cooperation’ between powerful artificial corporate persons and weak natural persons; and
3. give gobs to stagnant think tanks and law professors to explore corporate internal decision-making, efficiency, and transparency, without even lip service to this nation’s ideal that in a democracy, it is civil society’s responsibility to define all institutions.”
Source: Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy by Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy, 2001, p. 228

January 20

1998 – “Oprah Winfrey vs. The Beef People” airs on PBS Newshour
“Texas cattle producers sued Oprah in 1998 for “defaming” hamburgers and beef by discussing mad cow disease on her program. Texas is 1 of 13 states with “food disparagement acts” that make it easier for food corporations to sue their critics, including journalists and authors, for libel. They also allow for punitive damages and attorney fees. Oprah was accused of “whipping up anti-beef ‘lynch mob'” against beef, which resulted in a drop in beef prices. Food libel laws are meant to silence and intimidate — denying human beings first amendment free speech rights.
Oprah won her case in court — no doubt due, in part, to her ability to hire the very best lawyers.

2012 – Occupy the Courts campaign, organized by Move to Amend
On the 2nd anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, Move to Amend affiliate and partner groups connect with local Occupy groups and other organizations to hold mass actions at federal court buildings across the nation, educating about and protesting the Citizens United decision and calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and money as speech.

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