REAL Democracy History Calendar – October 24 – 30

October 24

1945 – United Nations Charter comes into force, marking the beginning of the international organization
Responding to several notable international abuses by the ITT and Nestle corporations in the developing world, the UN established a Commission and Center on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) in the early 1970’s. The groups urged TNCs to divest from South Africa if the apartheid system wasn’t abolished.

The major effort of the Center was working to develop a “code of conduct” or governing rules for TNC activities, especially in the developing world. The effort ultimately failed to achieve an agreement after 18 years of negotiations – largely due to opposition by developed countries like the U.S., which desired foreign direct investment (FDI) by transnational corporations in developing countries with few international constraints. Ultimately, the UN facilitated negotiations leading to the 1999 Global Compact, a “corporate social responsibility” initiative signed by over 12,000 corporate agents and other stakeholders in 170 counties. The Compact was/is, however, voluntary. Corporations are treated as equal to citizens and governments.

October 25

1886 – The railroads win: states can’t interfere with interstate commerce
“Freedom of commerce among the states…was deemed essential to a more perfect union by the framers of the Constitution.”
–Justice Samuel F. Miller in Wabash v. Illinois, 118 U.S. 557 (1886)  http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw07_12133.html

2014 – “What the BLEEP Happened to Hip Hop” two-day event in Denver
Hip Hop Congress and Move to Amend partnered to present: “What the Bleep Happened to Hip Hop?”, a multi-racial and intergenerational public education event that was part of a larger national campaign seeking to raise awareness of the dangerous power corporations currently wield over hip hop music specifically, and over the arts, culture and society in general.

October 26

2001 – Patriot Act passed by Congress
Passed by Congress following Sept.11, the Act violates the civil liberties and privacy of individuals.
Originally scheduled to expire, but key provisions were renewed in 2011…and remain to this day.

October 27

1858 – Birth of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Roosevelt warned against corporate persons in his 1907 Congressional address:
“The fortunes amassed through corporate organization are now so large, and vest such power in those that wield them, as to make it a matter of necessity to give to the sovereign – that is, to the government, which represents the people as a whole, some effective power of supervision over their corporate use. In order to ensure a healthy social and industrial life, every big corporation should be held responsible by, and be accountable to, some sovereign strong enough to control its conduct.”

Congress passed the Tillman Act that same year – the first U.S. legislation that prohibited any national bank or corporation to “make a money contribution in connection with any election to any political office.”

2009 – Steelworkers Form Collaboration with Mondragon, the World’s Largest Worker-Owned Cooperative
“The United Steelworkers (USW) and Mondragon Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing Mondragon cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada. The USW and Mondragon will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the Mondragon worker ownership model of “one worker, one vote.”
http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/2009/steelworkers-form-collaboration-with-mondragon-the-worlds-largest-worker-owned-cooperative

October 28

1998 – US District Court rules that civil rights of Omnipoint Communications Corporation were violated
Chadds Ford Township denied an application by Omnipoint Corporation to construct an antenna for transmitting radio signals between cellular telephones and ordinary telephone lines. The Township claimed they were protecting the welfare of their community since the radio signals are a low-intensity form of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation.

Omnipoint Corporation sued the Township under the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the Township violated the law by depriving the Corporation of its civil rights under §1983.
The Court then ordered the Township to pay the Corporation’s attorneys’ fees.
Omnipoint Communications Enterprises L.P. v. Zoning Hearing Board of Chadds Ford Township, No. Civ. A. 98-3299, 1998 WL 764762 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 28, 1998)

The decision became a precedent for corporations to claim many municipal laws and regulations were “discriminatory” under either the 14th Amendment or the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

October 29

2011 – “Outside Groups Eclipsing G.O.P. as Hub of Campaigns” article in the New York Times
“At a time when the Republican National Committee remains weighed down by debt, outside conservative groups, freed from contribution limits by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last year, are playing an ever larger role and operating in an increasingly coordinated fashion. In the coming months, the conservative groups will consult among themselves as they open pre-election advertising barrages against Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/us/politics/outside-groups-eclipsing-gop-as-hub-of-campaigns-next-year.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=1

October 30

1829 – Birth of Roscoe Conkling, attorney, US Representative and US Senator
Conkling was a former member of the joint congressional committee that had crafted the Fourteenth Amendment. When defending the Southern Pacific Railroad Company from being assessed higher property taxes than human persons before the Supreme Court in 1885, he alleged that “[a]t the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, individuals and joint stock companies were appealing for congressional and administrative protection against invidious and discriminating State and local taxes.” He claimed that the 14th Amendment drafters had purposely used the word “persons” instead of “citizens” to specifically shield corporations from those State and local taxes.

The case was settled before the Supreme Court made a decision. One year later, however, Southern Pacific Railroad Company was back before the Supreme Court on the same issue. No settlement was reached before the Santa Clara v Southern Pacific RR decision was made, which, in effect, affirmed for the first time that corporations were indeed “persons” and could not be “discriminated” against under the equal protection clause of the 14thAmendment by being charged higher property taxes than human persons.

Howard J. Graham in The ‘Conspiracy Theory’ of the Fourteenth Amendment, 47 YALE L.J. 371 (1938) explained that Conkling’s argument was baseless, stating that “[no one] at any time or under any circumstances, so far as the historical record indicates, ever used the word ‘citizen’ in any draft of the equal protection or due process clause.”

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