REAL Democracy History Calendar – March 13-19

March 13

2010 – Murray Hill Inc. announces run for Congress

Washington Post article on Murray Hill Inc.’s announcement of its candidacy for Congress. “After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office. ‘Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,’ the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. ‘But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.'”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/12/AR2010031204127.html

March 14

1782 – Birth of Thomas Benton, US Senator (MO) – on objecting to charter renewal of the Bank of the United States

“I object to the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States because I look upon the bank as an institution too great and powerful to be tolerated in a government of free and equal laws.  Its power is that of the purse, a power more potent than that of the sword, and this power it possesses to a degree and extent that will enable this bank to draw to it too much of the political power of this Union, and too much of the individual property of the citizens of these States.  The money power of the bank is both direct and indirect.”

1977 – Death of Fannie Lou Hamer – who challenged Mississippi’s all-white voting delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention

A civil rights and voting rights activist and leader, Hamer organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Its purpose was to challenge the anti-civil rights and all-white delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which didn’t represent all Mississippians. The Democratic Party establishment tried to ignore her and the Freedom Democrats’ plight concerning voter registration of African Americans. The Party sought a compromise that didn’t yield any power to the Freedom Democrats. Hamer said, “We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats when all of us is tired.” Continued pressure resulted in the Freedom Democrats being seated at the 1968 Convention with the Party agreeing to equality of representation of all states’ delegations. Hamer was elected as a national party delegate in 1972.

She also said: “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

March 15

1767 – Birth of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States

Jackson opposed the private, mis-named Second National Bank of the United States. He refused to support renewing its corporate charter. He said in 1834: “I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter. I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be a true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, I will rout you out.”

His opposition to the Bank’s charter renewal resulted in its dissolution.

2010 – First round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations begin in Melbourne, Australia

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a mis-named “trade agreement” between 12 nations, including the U.S. The negotiations were secret to the public, elected officials and the media — but not to hundreds of corporate representatives who served as consultants. The negotiations would greatly expand the reach of the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) process over what has already been established by NAFTA. The ISDS provisions of the TPP permit corporations to directly sue national governments to overturn democratically enacted national laws and rules governing worker, consumer and environmental protections. The suits are heard before unelected and unaccountable “Tribunals.” The only consideration before them is whether the national law impedes current or future corporate profits. The entire process is designed to overrule national self-governance. The TPP replaces national sovereignty with multinational corporate rule; it is not a “trade” agreement.

March 16

1751 – Birth of James Madison, 4th President of the United States – complicated figure on democracy and corporate power

Madison was a complicated figure on the issues of democracy and corporate power. On the one hand, he was the major drafter of the U.S. Constitution, which initially did not include a Bill of Rights. This document was a replacement for the more democratic, original U.S. Constitution — the Articles of Confederation. Only when people in many states claimed the Constitution protected property more than people and opposed its ratification, was a Bill of Rights added.  Madison then drafted those first 10 Amendments.  He kept the minutes of the Constitutional Convention secret for more than 50 years.

On the question of corporations, he said in 1817: “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.”

March 17

1924 – U.S. Supreme Court grants tobacco corporations 4th Amendment rights in Federal Trade Commission v. American Tobacco Co., 264 U.S. 298

The U.S. Senate directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible unfair trade practices of several tobacco corporations. The FTC ordered the corporation to produce documents. The corporations refused. The FTC sued. The corporations claimed 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protections (intended originally solely for human beings) to shield them from Congressional authority. The Supreme Court sided with the tobacco corporations, agreeing that the 4th Amendment shielded them from public scrutiny.

March 18

1831 – Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia court decision

Court rules against Cherokees who sued the state of Georgia for taking their land and rights. The court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was “domestic dependent” and, thus, without status in court.

2000 – Ohio State Representative calls for the charter of the Cleveland Clinic Corporation to be revoked 

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

2006 – “Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” is enacted

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

New Hampshire organizers of the Alliance for Democracy’s “Defending Water for Life” campaign worked with citizens in Barnstead to achieve this victory. Ruth Caplan and Nancy Price lead that AfD campaign.

Source: http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/pdf/AfDJR22.pdf

March 19

1962 – Supreme Court grants corporations 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination in Fong Foo v. United States, 369 U.S. 141 (1962)

The Court “found” corporations in the Double Jeopardy Clause and ruled that a corporation could not be retried after a court directed a judgment of acquittal during the presentation of evidence by the government.

2003 – New tobacco company chartered in Virginia – Licensed to Kill Inc.

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

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