REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 26 – July 2

June 26

2003 – Nike v. Kasky – Supreme Court fails to rule on corporate right to lie
The Supreme Court chose not to rule on a case brought by Nike Corporation concerning their right to political free speech under the 1st Amendment. A California court ruled that state laws mandating truth in advertising (commercial speech) had been violated. The question was over whether ReclaimDemocracy.org, called the dismissal “a victory for democracy and the truth.” Jeff Milchen, the organization’s director said it was “a relief to hear that the court was not prepared to consider even more extreme judicial activism on behalf of corporate America and against U.S. citizens by creating a corporate right to lie.”

The case returned to California where it was settled out of court before trial. The question of whether the 1st Amendment gives a corporation the right to speak untruths remains undetermined.

2015 – Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision – same sex marriage is legal
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a fundamental right to marry in all 50 states is guaranteed under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution for same sex couples.

As with all decisions that for the first time guarantees rights to a new group of persons, the decision did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of several decades of organizing for LGBT rights. A key moment that many believed sparked this social movement was the 1969 Stonewall protest in New York City.

June 27

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

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

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

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

June 28

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

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

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

June 29

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

June 30

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

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

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

July 1

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

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

July 2

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

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

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

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 19 – 25

June 19

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

June 20

1885 – Death of Thomas Welles Bartley, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio (1852-1859)
Bartley wrote the majority opinion for the Ohio Court in the 1853 case of The Bank of Toledo v. The City of Toledo and John R. Bond, and concurred with the majority in three other cases that same year upholding state law providing the state and its counties the power to tax banks. The banks claimed that the tax violated the U.S. Constitution’s “Contracts Clause” since a higher tax rate was not included in the 1845 “Act to Incorporate the State Bank of Ohio, and other banking companies.”

Barkley asserted that a charter or contract between a private corporation and the state that created the franchise was actually a law, not a contract, and, therefore, the Contracts Clause was not applicable. His opinion also stated that the power to tax could not be surrendered by the legislature and that the government’s paramount obligation is to protect the public welfare despite being bound in good faith to protect contracts and private property.

The U.S. Supreme Court later that year reversed the Supreme Court of Ohio’s decisions when it ruled in the case of Piqua Branch of The State Bank of Ohio v. Jacob Knoup, Treasurer of Miami County (1853).

1980 – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New
York, 447 U.S. 557 (1980) Supreme Court decision
The Court nullified a regulation adopted by the New York Public Service Commission during the 1970’s energy crisis that banned utility corporations from promoting the use of electricity.
Declaring that the ban unconstitutionally “suppressed speech,” the Court declared that the utility corporation’s “commercial” speech was protected by the 1st Amendment. Therefore, the state has no power to encourage energy conservation by banning corporate advertising promoting energy use.

June 21

1892 – Birth of Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian
“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

And presumably “women’s” capacity for justice as well.

1940 – Death of Smedley Butler, Marine Corp Major General – on being a “muscle-man” for Big Business”
Butler was the most decorated marine in US history at the time of his death.
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism…I wouldn’t go to war again, as I have done, to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things that we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket…. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…”

June 22

1772 – Somerset v Stewart [98 ER 499] – slavery is outlawed in England and Wales
A slave becomes free by stepping on English soil. Runaway slaves from the colonies attempted to flee to England to gain their freedom. Some believed that the decision increased colonial support for independence, especially from southern colonies that wanted to protect their slave “property” and expand their territory.

1949 – Birth of Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts
“What we need is a system that puts an end to the boom and bust cycle. A system that recognizes we don’t grow this country from the financial sector; we grow this country from the middle class.” And… “Powerful interests will fight to hang on to every benefit and subsidy they now enjoy. Even after exploiting consumers, larding their books with excessive risk, and making bad bets that brought down the economy and forced taxpayer bailouts, the big Wall Street banks are not chastened. They have fought to delay and hamstring the implementation of financial reform, and they will continue to fight every inch of the way.”

June 23

1947 – Congress overrides Presidential veto in passing anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act
The law, formally known as the Labor Management Relations Act, significantly restricted the power and rights of labor unions, severely weakening the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act). Called the “slave labor bill” by union leaders, Taft-Hartley outlawed a variety of strikes (i.e. wildcat, jurisdictional, and political or solidarity), secondary boycotts, mass picketing and closed shops (where employers must only hire union members). However, corporations were granted “free speech” powers in the union certification process, usurping the rights of workers to “freedom of association.”

2013 – UU national General Assembly in Louisville, KY passes an “Action of Immediate Witness” calling to “Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech”
“…BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly instructs the UUA to make its endorsement formal and public, supporting the efforts to amend the Constitution; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly further requests member congregations to pass resolutions that support and endorse a constitutional amendment to establish that corporations are not persons and money is not speech; and

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly encourages Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministries nationwide and other affiliated Unitarian Universalist organizations to join this important cause.
Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact to further the progress of a constitutional amendment to preserve the constitutional rights that our founding fathers intended solely for human persons, restore the effective voice of the people, and save our democracy. “
Full resolution at http://www.uua.org/statements/amend-constitution-corporations-are-not-persons-and-money-not-speech

June 24

1908 – Death of Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States — on corporate power
From his 1888 State of the Union Address: “The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor. As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

1982 – Lewis v. United States [680 F. 2d 1239 9th Circuit] – court rules that the Federal Reserve is private
“Federal Reserve banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of a Federal Tort Claims Act, but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations in light of fact that direct supervision and control of each bank is exercised by board of directors. Federal Reserve banks…are locally controlled by their member banks; banks are listed neither as ‘wholly owned’ government corporations nor as “mixed ownership” corporations; federal reserve banks receive no appropriated funds from Congress and the banks are empowered to sue and be sued in their own names…”

June 25

1975 – Release date of the film “Roller Ball”
“In the film, the world of 2018 (referred to in the tagline as “the not too distant future”) is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly based in Houston which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, and food on a global basis. According to the tagline, in this world, ‘wars will no longer exist. But there will be… Rollerball.’

“The film’s title is the name of a violent, globally popular sport around which the events of the film take place. It is similar to Roller Derby in that two teams clad in body armor skate on roller skates (some instead ride on motorcycles) around a banked, circular track. There, however, the similarity ends…

“The various global corporations own Rollerball teams, named after the cities in which they are based. Energy Corporation sponsors the Houston team. The game is a substitute for all current team sports and for warfare. While its ostensible purpose is entertainment, Mr. Bartholomew, a high-level executive of the Energy Corporation, describes it as a sport designed to show the futility of individual effort.”

2013 – Supreme Court strikes down portion of Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, [570 U.S. ___ (2013)]
This landmark 5-4 ruling determined that a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. The five Justices concluded that Section 4(b), which identifies locations in the South with a pattern of voting discrimination, was unconstitutional since the formula it used was based on 4-decade old data and not reflective of current realities. The four Justices who voted to retain the Act claimed that voter suppression remains a problem throughout the South.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 12-18

June 12

1953 – Birth of Dale Schultz, 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader
In 2013, before retiring rather than facing a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity, he said:
“When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money.”

2012 – Communities pass resolutions calling on Congress to end corporate personhood
The Ventura County CA Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that supports a Constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood and the doctrine that money is not free speech. The Tucson AZ City Council voted 7-0 in favor of abolishing corporate personhood and supporting a Constitutional amendment.

June 13

1866 – States ratify 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting former slaves citizenship, “due process” and “equal protection of the laws”
After the Amendment’s adoption by Congress, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax spoke in favor of Section 1: “I will tell you why I love it. It is because it is the Declaration of Independence placed immutably and forever in the Constitution.”
Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2459 (1866).

June 14

2010 – Publication of revised edition, “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People’ – And How You Can Fight Back” by Thom Hartman
A seminal work. “Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land?”
Weekly installments of the book were published at truthout.org, beginning at http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/331:unequal-protection-how-corporations-became-people-and-how-you-can-fight-back

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

June 15

1836 – Charter (license) of Second National Bank of the United States repealed
This was the third quasi national bank of the former British colonies — following the Bank of North America (1781-1785, chartered by the Continental Congress) and Bank of the United States (1791-1811, chartered by the US Congress). While called a “national” bank, it was not public but actually a commercial/corporate bank with the power to issue money directly. Early on, it issued a huge amount of money (more than 20 times its reserves) as loans that led to financial speculation and large corporate profits. A year later, it stopped issuing loans, resulting in a severe contraction of the money supply. This led to massive bankruptcies and the Panic of 1819. When President Andrew Jackson threatened to repeal its charter, the Bank’s leaders used their power to restrict money circulation to cause another depression. Despite Bank President Nicolas Biddle’s effort to have its charter renewed, President Jackson opposed renewal, saying, “The immense capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country…and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States.”
The bank charter was, in fact, repealed – resulting in its dissolution.

1917 – Congressional passage of the Espionage Act
The law made it a crime to interfere with military operations or recruitment, prevent military insubordination and to prevent support of U.S. enemies during wartime. The result has been restrictions of free speech over the decades to question government policies. Those who have been charged under the Act include Eugene V. Debs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

June 16

1723 – Birth of Adam Smith, author of “Wealth of Nations”
In his famous work written in 1776, Wealth of Nations, Smith criticized corporations for their effect in curtailing “natural liberty.” According to David Korton, Smith made specific mention of corporations twelve times in the Wealth of Nations. Not once does he attribute any favorable quality to them.
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Korten/RiseCorpPower_WCRW.html

June 17

1239 – Birth of King Edward I, first to utilize “quo warranto” written order
Quo warranto is a Medieval Latin meaning “by what warrant?” It’s a written order by a governing power (e.g. Kings in the past, legislatures early in U.S. history, and courts in the present) requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising a claimed right or power. It originated under King Edward I of England to recover previously lost lands, rights and franchises.

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

All 50 states still retain elements of quo warranto. The authority concerning the creation and dissolution of co

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

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

June 18

1849 – Birth of David K. Watson, Ohio Republican Attorney General
Watson sought to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company in 1892 for forming a trust. In his legal brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, he stated, “Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it . . .”  State v. Standard Oil Co., 30 N.E. 279 (Ohio 1892)

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 5 – 11

June 5

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

June 6

2006 – Voters in Humboldt County, CA pass initiative to protect right to fair elections and local democracy
“Measure T: the Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy” was passed by a vote of 55% to 45%. The measure prohibited corporations from outside the county from bankrolling political campaigns. The measure made clear that Humboldt citizens do not believe corporations are legal people and that only humans have constitutional rights.

June 7

1954 – Death of Maury Maverick, U.S. Congressman from Texas
“Democracy to me is liberty plus economic security.”

2001 – Publication of “Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies” by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), Edited by Dean Ritz
The book is considered by many to be a standard introductory book for anti-corporate activism.
“In these 70 essays, speeches, sermons and screeds, [the contributors] probe: corporations as ‘legal persons’; corporate social responsibility as a ploy; strategies for amending state corporation codes and challenging judge-made laws; and much, much more. This collection, which Howard Zinn calls ‘powerfully persuasive,’ chronicles POCLAD’s evolution – among the twelve POCLADers and with thousands of activists. Here are hidden histories, crisp analyses and thoughtful responses to corporate apologists – all in one provocative book.”

“From studying popular movements of the past we discover that men of property wrote their laws to protect themselves from too much democracy…[c]orporations today act in the capacity of governments. Energy corporations determine our nation’s energy policies. Automobile corporations determine our nation’s transportation policies. Military manufacturing corporations determine our nation’s defense policies…Corporations…outlawed control by local government over the “placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”
https://rowman.com/isbn/9781891843105

June 8

1845 – Death of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States
“The bold effort the present (central) bank had made to control the government … are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American people, should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it.”

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

June 9

1827 – Birth of Frances Miles Finch, member of the Court of Appeals of New York State – corporate charters are revocable
The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in People v. North River Sugar Refining Co., [121 N.Y. 582, 608, 24 N.E. 834, 1890] that the company’s participation in the sugar trust violated the terms of its state charter or license. At the time, people believed that when a corporation exceeded or abused its power and such abuse harms the public welfare, legislatures should revoke the corporation’s charter and dissolve the corporation.
Writing for the majority in support of charter revocation and dissolution of the company, Judge Finch stated, “[t]he life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen. . .”

June 10

1932 – Speech by Louis McFadden (R-Pa), Chair of the U.S. House Banking and Currency Committee on the Floor of Congress
“The Federal Reserve (Banks) are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen…What is needed here is a return to the Constitution of the United States. We need to have a complete divorce of Bank and State. The old struggle that was fought out here in Jackson’s day must be fought over again… The Federal Reserve Act should be repealed and the Federal Reserve Banks, having violated their charters, should be liquidated immediately.”

June 11

1880 – Birth of Jeannette Rankin, first Congresswoman in the United States
“Establish democracy at home, based on human rights as superior to property rights!”

1923 – Kentucky Finance Corporation v. Paramount Auto Exchange Corporation [262 U.S. 544, 550]
U.S. Supreme Court declares, “a state has no more power to deny to corporations the equal protection of the law than it has to individual citizens.”

1961 – Death of Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Horn, on the fraud of creating electric regulatory commissions
“No shrewder piece of political humbuggery and downright fraud has ever been placed upon the statute books. It’s supposed to be legislation for the people. In fact, it’s legislation for the power oligarchy.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 29 – June 4

May 29

1911 – United States v. American Tobacco Co [221 U.S. 106] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them.

2004 – Death of Archibald Cox, Solicitor General under President Kennedy and Watergate Special Prosecutor – on Supreme Court power
The power of the U.S. Supreme Court is “unique in judicial history…no other country has given its courts such extraordinary power.”
From The Court and the Constitution, 1987, p 44-45.

May 30

2003 – Article published this month “How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy” by Kimberly French
“In 1995 [Ward] Morehouse and Richard Grossman cofounded a think tank called the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), a project of CIPA. They invited a dozen fellow activists to join them. Their primary tool has been weekend retreats they call rethinks, short for Rethinking Corporations, Rethinking Democracy. The workshops bring together twenty to twenty-five activists who live near each other or work on similar issues. Over the past decade, POCLAD has conducted several hundred of the retreats all over the country and is now training others to lead them.

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

Morehouse calls movements that simply ask corporations to behave better, such as socially responsible investing, social auditing, business ethics, or wise use, accommodations to corporate power. ‘It’s not . . . ‘good corporate citizenship’ that sovereign people must seek. Those phrases are contradictions in terms and diversions from the public’s central task to become unified enough to exert citizen authority over the creation, structure, and functioning of all business enterprises,’ Morehouse and Grossman write in the POCLAD anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy.”
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2003/BWA_2003_MAY.html

May 31

1904 – Terre Haute & I.R.Co. v. Indiana [194 U.S. 579, 589] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them. The railroad corporation invoked the 14th Amendment in its defense. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/194/579.html

June 1
 
1833 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan – “Corporations are not people”
In Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906), he asserted, “in my opinion, a corporation – an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law – cannot claim the immunity given by the 4th Amendment; for it is not a part of the ‘people within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment. “

2003 – Publication of “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan
“Over the past 200 years, all over the world but especially in the United States, legal systems have been changed to accomplish two limits: limit the legal liability of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections of citizens….

“Individual corporations wield enormous influence over government policy-makers, communities, and entire regional economies, but the true measure of corporate power is the ability of the owners and managers of corporations to unite to influence political agendas and to subvert national and international law.”

June 2
 
1953 – Birth of Cornel West, American academic, author and activist
“American society is disproportionately shaped by the outlooks, interests, and aims of the business community — especially that of big business. The sheer power of corporate capital is extraordinary. This power makes it difficult even to imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on the U.S. government and its legal institutions.”
From The Role of the Progressive Politics,” 1982

2014 – “Corporations Are Not People. Period” article by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend National Director
“[S]imply overturning Citizens United will not solve much. Narrowing the solution while our movement is on the rise will guarantee that we’re left with a Band-Aid trying to cover a gushing headwound that is the current state of our democracy. We need to go deeper and make clear that only human beings can claim Constitutional rights…Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule — there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.”
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/06/02/corporations-are-not-people-period

June 3
 
1918 – Hammer v. Dagenhart [247 U.S. 251] Supreme Court decision – Commerce Clause double standard
The Court ruled that Congressional action to ban products manufactured by child labor from interstate commerce was an unconstitutional invasion of states’ rights. The issue was responding at the federal level to long hours and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for children in many states.

During this same period, however, the Court repeatedly used the hammer of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause on behalf of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws and rules intended to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

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

June 4
 
1738 – Birth of King George III, King of England
The systemic usurpations or seizures of the rights of colonists by the English King and Parliament were the major cause of the American Revolution. Besides Parliamentary Acts taxing colonial trade, those seizures occurred primarily through global trading corporations – such as the East India Company – and colonial corporations – such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, Maryland Company, etc. – that received charters or licenses from the King to engage in trade and/or to govern/oppress the colonists.

The Revolution was not simply one against George III, but also against global trading and colonial Crown corporations.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 22 – 28

May 22

1898 – Death of Edward Bellamy, on private vs public power in “Looking Backward.”
“Looking Backward” was a utopian novel written in 1888 set in the year 2000. From the book: “The records of the period show that the outcry against the concentration of capital was furious. Men believed that it threatened society with a form of tyranny more abhorrent than it had ever endured. The believed that the great corporations were preparing for them the yoke of a baser servitude than had ever been imposed on the race, servitude not to men but to soulless machines incapable of any motive but insatiable greed. Looking back, we cannot wonder at their desperation, for certainly humanity was never confronted with a fate more sordid and hideous than would have be the era of corporate tyranny which they anticipated.”

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

May 23

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

1933 – Articles of impeachment presented in the U.S. House of Representatives against the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Officers and Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, the US Secretary of Treasury and others for their collusion in causing the Great Depression
US Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, introduced the Articles of Impeachment. McFadden stated,

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

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

May 24

1941 – Birth of George Lakoff, Professor, cognitive linguist, author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”
“[There is much that is unframed by the general public that needs to be framed…runaway wealth to the wealthy…runaway climate change…[and] runaway privatization of public resources. But there is an important framing that is beginning to catch on: The Constitution applies only to human beings. Conceptual metaphors have no legal standing.”

1999 –  Supreme Court affirms corporate 5th and 14th Amendment rights
A corporation wanted to develop a residential complex on ocean front property in Monterey, California. Public officials rejected the application based on various laws protecting the human and natural community…and in response to wide public pressure. The corporation eventually sold the land to the state of California for a profit. It then sued Monterey for violating its “corporate rights” under the Takings, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the corporation on the first two claims and awarded it damages of $1.45 million paid from city funds.

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

May 25

1787 – US Constitutional Convention convenes
Convention delegates (all white, male, property-owners) had originally come together merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. Constitution. Merchants opposed the powers of individual states under the Articles to define the terms of trade. The new Constitution transferred state powers regarding trade to the federal level – creating what many believed was the template for modern-day so-called trade agreements that seek to transfer power regarding trade from the federal level to the international level.

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

2004 – Founding of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives at U.S. Conference of Democratic Workplaces in Minneapolis.
“The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Our membership also includes democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives.  In 2014, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary, with over 100 member workplaces across the country that are building a dynamic movement for democratic worker-ownership.

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

May 26

1894 – Moran v. Sturges [154, U.S. 256] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them.

1924 –Immigration Act enacted
Also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, the law created an immigration quota system based on national origin favoring “Nordics” over the “inferior” races of Asia & Southern and Eastern Europe.  Immigration of Africans was severely restricted. Arabs and Asians were banned outright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

May 27

1964 – Death of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian nationalist leader and first Prime Minister
“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”

1998 – Retired judge seeks to revoke the charters of tobacco corporations
Retired Alabama Judge William Wynn filed court documents (called a writ of quo warranto) to revoke the charters of five tobacco corporations and, therefore, should be dissolved. Acting as a private citizen, Wynn claims that Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, The Liggett Group, and Lorillard Corporations violated various long-standing state laws, including contributing to the dependency of a minor, unlawful distribution of material harmful to a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, assault in the third degree, recklessly endangering another, deceptive business practice, and causing the delinquency of a child.

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

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

May 28

1830 – Congress passes Indian Removal Act
Indigenous communities are forced from their homelands. Over 10 years, 100,000 native children and adults march thousands of miles west into unknown arid territory in Oklahoma. Fifteen thousand people do not survive the journey. However, over 25 million acres of land is made available for white settlers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

1892 – Sierra Club founded – establishes “Corporate Accountability Committee” in 1990’s
One of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the nation, the Club established a “Corporate Accountability Committee” in the 1990s. The Committee looked beyond the behavior of individual corporations and toward the underlying constitutional rules (i.e. Supreme Court decisions) that give them their power. Through talks and workshops, the Committee also explored democratic strategies in response to growing corporate rule, specifically revoking corporate charters. Ruth Caplan and Jim Price were among the Committees initiators.
http://vault.sierraclub.org/planet/200111/investing.asp

2014 – Death of Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
From:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 15 – 21

May 15

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

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

May 16 

1918 – Congress passes Sedition Act to suppress wartime dissent

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

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

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

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

May 17

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

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

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

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

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

www.rachel.org/files/Rachels_Environment_Health_News_1765.pdf

May 18

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

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

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

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

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

May 19

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

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

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

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

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

May 20

1862 – Homestead Act signed by President Lincoln

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

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

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

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

May 21

1934 – F.E. Nugent Funeral Home v. Beamish, 173 A. 177 (Pa. 1934) federal district court decision

The district court declared that “[c]orporations organized under a state’s laws. . . depend on it alone for power and authority.”

2012 – Baltimore City Council supports abolishing corporate personhood

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

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 8 – 14

May 8

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

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

May 9

2010 – Mother’s Day (it’s May 14 this year)

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

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

May 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11

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

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

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

May 12

1937 – Birth of comedian George Carlin

Carlin on the American Dream:

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

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

“It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” http://shoqvalue.com/george-carlin-on-the-american-dream-with-transcript/

May 13

1819 – Birth of Walt Whitman, American poet “

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

May 14

1940 – Death of Emma Goldman, anarchist and feminist

“Democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world.” “The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul.”

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

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

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

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 1-7

May 1

1847 – Birth of Henry Demarest Lloyd

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

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

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

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

May 2

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

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

May 3

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

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

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

“To win this fight… we must do three kinds of activism at once.
1. Fight Fires…
2. Create Alternatives…
3. Dismantle the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule…
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2002/BWA_2002_MAY.html

2016 – Pennsylvania Township passes law legalizing direct action against corporate frack wastewater injection well
From a press release

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

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

May 4

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

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

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

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

“Personally, I’ve been a chump on defense long enough and I’d like to start winning for a change. Move to Amend is the only game I know of with a vision to change the rules of the game so that “winning” actually means we start running the show, not just rejoicing that we’ve stopped a weapons system or elected Tweedledum instead of Tweedledummer.”
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_May.html

May 5

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

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

“We are practically immune from discipline or censure or supervision. We cannot be defeated at an election or discharged by a superior…By striking down many government decisions…the Supreme Court has established itself as a major participant in the policy-making process.”
“Handbook for Judges,” Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society, 1975)

May 6

1882 – Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act

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

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

“Constitutional experts say an increase in activity could coincide with the influential campaign for a balanced budget, which claims to be within seven states of the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to trigger an alternative method for seeking amendments…Triggering a convention is still an enormous long-shot and one that could be easily blocked by challenges in the supreme court, yet its possibility highlights the extent of legal uncertainties….’Nobody has really thought hard about any of these issues – it hasn’t come up since 1789 – and nobody is paying much attention to it right now,’ adds Seidman. ‘But that’s a possibility that would shake a lot of things loose. It’s possible such a convention would consider things like campaign finance.’…That would certainly please the other grassroots movements pushing hard for an amendment that sees the dominance of corporate money in politics as just the sort of issues the founders expected to see tackled…One such group is called Move to Amend. It seeks to reform campaign finance by removing the protected status of corporations which it says lies at the heart of the 2010 supreme court ruling that political campaign spending is a form of free speech protected by the first amendment.
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/06/amending-consitution-politics-trend?CMP=share_btn_fb

May 7

1879 – Ratification of California Constitution – on corporate rights

“The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be so abridged or construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies and subjecting them to public use the same as the property of individuals, and the exercise of the police power of the State shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State. “ (Article XII, Section 8) http://archives.cdn.sos.ca.gov/collections/1879/archive/1879-constitution.pdf

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

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

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REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 24 – 30

April 24

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

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

April 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 26

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

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

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

April 27

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson on helping business corporations

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

— speech to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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

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

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

April 28

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

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

In his dissent, Justice Gray stated:

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

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

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

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

April 29

2015 – We the People Amendment, HJR 48, introduced in US House of Representatives 

“Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

Richard Nolan (D-MN) was the primary sponsor and the resolution currently has 14 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

April 30

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

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

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