1934 – Birth of Ralph Nader, consumer activist
“I have a consistent rule: The American people should know as much about the Pentagon as the Soviet Union and China do, as much about General Motors as Ford does, and as much about City Bank as Chase Manhattan does.”
1932 — Birth of Richard Deats, author and minister
“Democracy is the institutionalization of nonviolent problem-solving in the social order.”
(from The Global Spread of Active Nonviolence, Fellowship, July-August 1996)
2011 – Town of Lincoln, VT approves a resolution to end corporate personhood
Simply limiting money in elections from wealthy individuals without addressing “corporate personhood” allows individuals to hide behind the corporate veil and constitutional shield by claiming never-intended protections of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments, as well as of the Commerce and Contracts clauses of the Constitution to prevent or overturn democratically enacted laws and regulations.
1781 – Ratification of the Articles of Confederation
This was the first Constitution of the United States, preceding our current constitution by eight years. Provisions included:
-Unicameral legislature with only one house of the Congress.
-No system of national courts or executive branch
-One vote per state irrespective of the size of the state.
-Levying taxes in hands of the state government
-Power to coin and borrow money
-Time limits on holding public office
-No standing army or navy
-No provision for national government interference in commerce and trade – each state could impose tariffs on trade.
This last provision regarding decentralized decision-making on commerce and trade was the pretext for a gathering to “amend” the Articles. Once gathered, the delegates replaced entirely the Articles with an entirely new proposed constitution that was, in many respects, more top-down and favorable to commercial interests.
1990 – Publication of “Personalizing the Impersonal: Corporations and the Bill of Rights,” by Carl J. Mayer, 41 Hastings L.J. 577, 658-59
“[T]he extension of corporation constitutional rights is a zero-sum game that diminishes the rights and powers of real individuals.” Note: This law review article is arguably the clearest and most thorough legal analysis describing how corporations acquired specific constitutional rights and underlines how our current problems connected to corporate rule go back more than a century.
1867 – First of Four Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress — Reconstruction Era begins in former Confederate states
The purpose of the Acts was to ensure that all federal laws were to be enforced. This included removing Confederates from power, protecting African Americans and enfranchising black men. Blacks were elected to Congress (both House and Senate) throughout the South. The Era ended with the “Compromise of 1877” when U.S. Army troops were removed as part of deal by Southern Democrats in Congress over the election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes for President.
1992 – Publication of the article “Your Honor,” by Honorable Edward J. Devitt United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota in Handbook for Judges, Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society)
“Being called ‘Your Honor’ day in and day out is a constant reminder, not alone of the prestige of the office, but more importantly of the tremendous power and heavy responsibility and absolute independence of the federal judge.
We are practically immune from discipline or censure or supervision. We cannot be defeated at an election or discharged by a superior…By striking down many government decisions…the Supreme Court has established itself as a major participant in the policy-making process.”
1777 – Birth of Roger Taney Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford (60 U.S. 393) decision
“[T]he right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”
1871 – Indian Appropriation Act declares all Indian treaties void and makes all Indians wards of the federal government
The US broke more than 300 treaties with Indian tribes and nations during its history. Rights of indigenous people to live on their native lands were ignored.
1861 – Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address – on judicial review
Abraham Lincoln addressed the issue of “judicial review” during his first inaugural address. Judicial review is the doctrine permitting the judicial branch of government to review executive and legislative branch actions to ensure they are constitutional. Many have claimed this authority, not explicitly granted in the Constitution, gives the judicial branch undue power over the rest of government. Lincoln in his 1861 address said: “The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”
1918 – Birth of Wayne Andreas, CEO of Archer Daniels Midland
“There is not one grain of anything in the world that is sold in the free market. Not one. The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.”
1877 – Corporate CEO Thomas Scott brokers deal to end Reconstruction and install Rutherford B. Hayes as U.S. President
The 1876 presidential election was arguably the most controversial in US history. Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, won the popular vote and seemingly the electoral vote over Hayes. Twenty electoral votes, however, were in dispute. A special commission was formed. It was controlled by Thomas Scott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and composed of Supreme Court justices and members of Congress. Scott delivered the votes to Hayes in the “Compromise of 1877” in exchange for a federal bailout of failing railroad investments. Hayes also agreed to pull federal troops from the South (ending Reconstruction and the launch of Jim Crow). Those troops were shifted to the North to put down the first national labor strikes in 1877 in which over 100 strikers were killed.
2012 – Charlestown, WV city council passes resolution on corporate personhood and money as speech
The resolution called on the US Congress to amend the constitution to state that only living persons are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech.