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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