2011 — Published article, “’We the People’ versus ‘We the Corporation’: Sentiment Builds for Banning Corporate Personhood, But Tough Road Ahead” by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
“Across the country, momentum has been building for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that the democratic rights and freedoms granted to people do not apply to corporations and corporate entities…
“There has been an ebb and flow of those rights and powers for more than a century. But in the past 30 years, culminating in Citizens United, the balance of power between individuals and corporations has swung away from average citizens to the richest and most powerful institutions. That is because they have found new ways to spend money in campaigns and have been awarded new speech rights in federal court.”
1816 — Birth of Morrison Waite, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court
Waite presided over the Supreme Court during the ruling of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394, 1886), which first established that corporations possessed Constitutional Amendment “rights” – sort of.
The Justices themselves did not specifically make their decision in favor of the railroad on constitutional grounds. Instead, J.C. Bancroft Davis, court reporter and former banker, transcribed this oral remark in the decision’s “headnotes” (which summarized the case): “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.”
The remark appeared in the headnotes, but nowhere else. Morrison agreed with the wording and its placement. It set a precedent, which was cited in succeeding Supreme Court cases granting corporations 14th Amendment and other constitutional rights.
1930 — Death of Mother Jones, worker’s rights activist
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
“I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.”
“Injustice boils in men’s hearts as does steel in its cauldron, ready to pour forth, white hot, in the fullness of time.”
1990 — Death of Norman Cousins
“In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility”
1999 — First day of WTO meetings and “Battle of Seattle” against global corporatization
More than 40,000 individuals from across the world, the largest demonstration up to that time, gathered to protest international trade agreements. They opposed the anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-consumer and anti-environmental efforts to establish a global “trade” organization that would “harmonize” (i.e. reduce to lowest common denominator) national laws and regulations in ways that would be corporate-friendly.
Protestors effectively shut down the negotiations before a final agreement was reached. The protests emboldened representatives from less developed countries that argued that they and their people and natural resources would be exploited by the proposed terms.
1885 – Dodge v. Woolsey (59 U.S. 331) Supreme Court decision – corporations are “creatures of the state”
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.
1955 – Rosa Parks refuses to surrender her seat to a white passenger, is arrested, leading to Montgomery Bus Boycott
Parks was a civil rights activist with the NAACP. She attended a civil rights leadership-training workshop at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee earlier in the year. Her defiance resulted in her arrest, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. With downtown businesses suffering financial losses and the Supreme Court upholding a lower court decision declaring racial segregation laws unconstitutional, the boycott ended after 381 days. The boycott was an important marker in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
2015 – First of 3 programs focusing on African American cooperative economics
The series will take place in Austin, TX and is sponsored by Cooperation Texas.
The first program, African-American film shorts, will provide “an inside look at thriving worker-owned cooperatives in Black communities with these two mini-documentaries featuring Cooperative Home Care Associates and Mandela Foods.”
Inequality “has disproportionately affected Black communities. What can be done to address systemic inequality? For generations, African Americans have experimented with cooperative economics in order to survive and thrive.” Cooperatives are means for individuals to take greater control of their communities.
2011 – Published article, “Curbing Corporate Power: The Next Step for the Movement to Slow Climate Change” by Carol Polsgrove, The Bloomington Alternative
“Following up on the White House demonstrations to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, is already hard at work on the next stage of the movement to rein in reliance on fossil fuels.
“On a three-state speaking tour, he is calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage the Supreme Court did when it declared corporations as persons and campaign contributions as speech. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money last election cycle than the Democratic and Republican national committees combined – and 97 percent of that went to climate deniers, he told an audience in Asheville on Nov. 30. The climate change movement has to figure out how to break ‘the corporate power dominating our political lives.’”
1999 – Conclusion of World Trade Organization “Battle in Seattle”
The Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Seattle from November 30 to December 3, 1999, ends with no agreement. Tens of thousands of environmental, labor, human rights and other protestors shut down major portions of the conference, claiming the WTO favored corporate interests over environmental and social concerns.
While there have been no global trade accords since, bilateral and multilateral so-called “trade agreements” continued to be negotiated. Most of these agreements before and since the WTO have been less about trade than about corporate rule – i.e. expanding the rights of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws in nations due thanks to the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that involve corporate-friendly, undemocratic and unaccountable Tribunals that rule on whether or not worker, consumer and environmental laws interfere with maximizing corporate profits.
1679 – Death of Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher – corporations are worms in the body politic
“Corporations are lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man.”
Shorter: Corporations are worms in the body politic.