REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 29 – June 4

May 29

1911 – United States v. American Tobacco Co [221 U.S. 106] Supreme Court decision
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.

2004 – Death of Archibald Cox, Solicitor General under President Kennedy and Watergate Special Prosecutor – on Supreme Court power
The power of the U.S. Supreme Court is “unique in judicial history…no other country has given its courts such extraordinary power.”
From The Court and the Constitution, 1987, p 44-45.

May 30

2003 – Article published this month “How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy” by Kimberly French
“In 1995 [Ward] Morehouse and Richard Grossman cofounded a think tank called the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), a project of CIPA. They invited a dozen fellow activists to join them. Their primary tool has been weekend retreats they call rethinks, short for Rethinking Corporations, Rethinking Democracy. The workshops bring together twenty to twenty-five activists who live near each other or work on similar issues. Over the past decade, POCLAD has conducted several hundred of the retreats all over the country and is now training others to lead them.

“Morehouse and Grossman never set out to become experts on corporate history and law. But they have concluded that, to effect any lasting change, that is where activists must focus their energy.

Morehouse calls movements that simply ask corporations to behave better, such as socially responsible investing, social auditing, business ethics, or wise use, accommodations to corporate power. ‘It’s not . . . ‘good corporate citizenship’ that sovereign people must seek. Those phrases are contradictions in terms and diversions from the public’s central task to become unified enough to exert citizen authority over the creation, structure, and functioning of all business enterprises,’ Morehouse and Grossman write in the POCLAD anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy.”
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2003/BWA_2003_MAY.html

May 31

1904 – Terre Haute & I.R.Co. v. Indiana [194 U.S. 579, 589] Supreme Court decision
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. The railroad corporation invoked the 14th Amendment in its defense. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/194/579.html

June 1
 
1833 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan – “Corporations are not people”
In Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906), he asserted, “in my opinion, a corporation – an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law – cannot claim the immunity given by the 4th Amendment; for it is not a part of the ‘people within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment. “

2003 – Publication of “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan
“Over the past 200 years, all over the world but especially in the United States, legal systems have been changed to accomplish two limits: limit the legal liability of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections of citizens….

“Individual corporations wield enormous influence over government policy-makers, communities, and entire regional economies, but the true measure of corporate power is the ability of the owners and managers of corporations to unite to influence political agendas and to subvert national and international law.”

June 2
 
1953 – Birth of Cornel West, American academic, author and activist
“American society is disproportionately shaped by the outlooks, interests, and aims of the business community — especially that of big business. The sheer power of corporate capital is extraordinary. This power makes it difficult even to imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on the U.S. government and its legal institutions.”
From The Role of the Progressive Politics,” 1982

2014 – “Corporations Are Not People. Period” article by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend National Director
“[S]imply overturning Citizens United will not solve much. Narrowing the solution while our movement is on the rise will guarantee that we’re left with a Band-Aid trying to cover a gushing headwound that is the current state of our democracy. We need to go deeper and make clear that only human beings can claim Constitutional rights…Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule — there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.”
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/06/02/corporations-are-not-people-period

June 3
 
1918 – Hammer v. Dagenhart [247 U.S. 251] Supreme Court decision – Commerce Clause double standard
The Court ruled that Congressional action to ban products manufactured by child labor from interstate commerce was an unconstitutional invasion of states’ rights. The issue was responding at the federal level to long hours and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for children in many states.

During this same period, however, the Court repeatedly used the hammer of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause on behalf of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws and rules intended to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

1995 – Remarks by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal at “Rally against the Contract on America” in Toledo, Ohio
“The Contract on America is not ultimately about balancing the budget or about reforming welfare. The Contract is about who runs our country…when budget-cutters in Congress wield the knife, they do so like skilled sleight-of hand experts, distracting our attention. They use code words like “family values,” and “personal responsibility,” as they try to convince us that this nation is in danger of collapse because black teenagers have too many babies; because food stamp recipients spend too much on corn flakes and peanut butter…But ask them to eliminate the subsidies handed out routinely to corporations and they fall suddenly silent. Is this debate about budget deficits? Or is it about who really runs our country?…These are truly fundamental questions. As we answer them, we have immediate work before us: to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow citizens who deserve a share of this nation’s wealth; to make clear to elected officials who care more about corporations than about democracy, that they will pay a political price.”

June 4
 
1738 – Birth of King George III, King of England
The systemic usurpations or seizures of the rights of colonists by the English King and Parliament were the major cause of the American Revolution. Besides Parliamentary Acts taxing colonial trade, those seizures occurred primarily through global trading corporations – such as the East India Company – and colonial corporations – such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, Maryland Company, etc. – that received charters or licenses from the King to engage in trade and/or to govern/oppress the colonists.

The Revolution was not simply one against George III, but also against global trading and colonial Crown corporations.

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