REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 23 – 29

March 23

1888 – Death of Morrison Waite, chief justice of the US Supreme Court, when corporations are first granted unalienable constitutional rights
Morrison was chief justice at the time of the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co (118 US 394) decision. The Court ruling focused exclusively on a tax issue. However, the court reporter (and former banker), J.C. Bancroft, added his own summary in the headnotes for the case and nowhere else — granting the railroad equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. After the fact, Waite said this about the headnotes question: “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.” Thus, the onslaught of anointing corporations with never intended constitutional rights began in earnest.

1971 – Proposed 26th Amendment reducing the right to vote from 21 to 18 years of age passes Congress
Both the House and Senate passed the proposed amendment and sent to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the states in just 3 months, 8 days — the quickest time for any amendment. The 26th Amendment became part of the Constitution on July 1, 1971.

March 24

2010 – “On the History of Corporate Personhood and a Broad Amendment strategy for Overturning It” posting by Mary Zepernick on the Alliance for Democracy website
“At the outset, legal persons were white propertied men, 55 of whom gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, closed their doors and replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution – sealing their records for half a century. The historian James Beard referred to them as the ‘well bred, well fed, well read, and well wed!

“Cape Cod’s revolutionary pamphleteer and playwright Mercy Otis Warren when the new document was unveiled: ‘the Senate is too oligarchical; the country is too big to be governed by a strong federal system, and where are the rights of the people?

Why is the “Campaign to Legalize Democracy” (www.movetoamend.org) using a broad amendment strategy? In effect, we are seizing the opportunity to exercise active control over our Constitution – not a document belonging to the Courts, nor to the Congress nor to the Chief Executive, but to us, the people’s Constitution. At this stage, no one knows the “right” path to take. This is a long term, multi-layered challenge. It’s not a contest but a collaboration between two approaches (and probably more to come).”
Source: http://afd-e-news.blogspot.com/2010/03/mary-zepernick-on-history-of-corporate.html

2015 – Online article, “20 Things You Should Know About Corporate Crime” in the The Harvard Law Record
“Corporate crime lesson number one – prosecute corporate crime to achieve higher office, then get tough on street crime to protect your political position.

“Or to simplify it, corporate crime is all about power politics.”
http://hlrecord.org/2015/03/20-things-you-should-know-about-corporate-crime/

March 25

1934 – Birth of Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social and political activist
“A movement is only composed of people moving. To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means.”

2000 – Publication this month of article, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Kick the Habit” by Jane Anne Morris, POCLAD principal and corporate anthropologist
“While we huddled in coffeehouses and church basements debating strategy, corporate managers plotted in boardrooms. Their diagnosis unfolded into a plan. From their perspective, a Great Danger threatened: government action spurred by public demands. A tried-and-true strategy beckoned: make a show of voluntarily Doing Something and publicize it shamelessly.

“This was a strategy with a thousand faces: corporations as socially responsible, corporations as “citizens” with civic duties, corporations as “good neighbors,” corporate executives as “trustees” for the public interest, “business leaders” offering voluntary codes of conduct, and so on.

“There were three pillars to the corporate plan. (1) placate; (2) co-opt; (3) reframe issues so that in the future, people would “demand” something that corporate managers want to ‘give.’

“Corporate donations and other forms of “corporate social responsibility” pacified portions of the community by softening the edges of some of the most egregious and most visible corporate harms. In a quasi-behaviorist twist, they rewarded “good” behavior and disadvantaged “bad” behavior on the part of showcased community and charitable organizations. But most of all they enabled corporate managers to reshape public “questions” so that the “answers” were to come not from a self-governing people but from “corporate good citizens…

“The options were clear: either institute the three-point plan, or the country will succumb to…(I hope you’re sitting down)…a people’s democracy….we have another opportunity to firmly reject the “corporate social responsibility” ruse. A small but growing core of people is demanding not goodies or favors or good deeds but real self-governance. They know that receiving goodies from worried corporate managers is the real “dole,” while a self-governing people controlling their community’s resources in the interest of society as a whole — that is democracy.”
http://poclad.org/BWA/2000/BWA_2000_MAR.html

March 26

1790 — Naturalization Act passed by Congress
Immigrants are allowed to become citizens, but only if White. Without citizenship, non-whites cannot vote, own property, file lawsuits, or testify in court.

1929 – Birth of Ward Morehouse, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
“As men of property had wrapped the Constitution around themselves in 1787, men of the Gilded Age enlisted judges and legislators to wrap the nation’s sacred text around their new financial and industrial conglomerates. By the end of the 19th Century, corporations had been baptized in the contract, commerce, property and personhood pools the Revolutionary elite had dammed into the Constitution one hundred years before. ”
From the “Forward” by Richard Grossman and Ward, Co-founders, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy to “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan

1930 – Birth of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Reagan appointee
Her comment following the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of individuals and corporate entities to make political campaign contributions: “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”

March 27

1990 – U.S. Supreme Court rules corporate spending in elections can be limited if compelling interest
The court ruled in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (494 U.S. 652) that a Michigan law prohibiting corporations from using their treasury funds for independent expenditures to oppose or support candidates in state elections did not violate the 1st or 14th Amendments. The case acknowledged the state’s compelling interest in responding to a “different type of corruption in the political arena: the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” The 2010 Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision overruled this decision.

2002 – Congress passes “McCain-Feingold” (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) – increases regulation of political campaign financing
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (better known as the McCain-Feingold Act after its chief sponsors) was passed by Congress to strengthen the regulations of political campaign financing. Its chief sponsors were Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ).

The Act addressed political “soft money” (by outlawing money raised or spent by national political party committees not subject to federal limits) and “issue advocacy ads” (by limiting broadcast ads as to when they can be aired and prohibiting funding for them from profit and nonprofit corporations and unions).

The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision overturned this law.

2018 — Published article, “OIL & GAS CORPORATION SUING ACTIVISTS IN PERSONAL CAPACITY”
“In an unprecedented and direct assault on First Amendment rights, Extraction Oil & Gas, the fracking corporation responsible for the massive Bella Wells extraction site–the largest fracking site next to a public school in the United States–filed suit on March 23, 2018 against Cullen Lobe in his personal capacity. Cullen Lobe is a Colorado State University student who participated in non-violent civil disobedience against Extraction Oil and Gas on March 9, 2018.

“This appears to be a first, where energy corporations are now using their massive resource advantage to sue citizens in order to repress organized dissent. The lawsuit will enable the corporation–setting precedent for all corporations–to use the discovery process to retrieve information about any person who has shown interest in challenging environmental exploitation, then use that information to sue those persons in their individual capacities. (The suit is styled John Does 1-20, which is legalese to use discovery to see who attended meetings, signed attendance lists, helped plan, made coffee, painted a sign, in order to add those people to the law suit.) If this corporation prevails in this action, the mere act of attending a meeting could expose a person to civil liability.”

Oil & Gas Corporation Suing Activists in Personal Capacity

March 28

1969 – Death of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.” – From his Farewell address

2015 – “What the BLEEP Happened to Hip Hop,” a two-day event in Detroit
Hip Hop Congress and Move to Amend partner to present: “What the Bleep Happened to Hip Hop?”, a multi-racial and intergenerational public education two-day event. It was part of a larger national campaign seeking to raise awareness of the dangerous power corporations currently wield over the hip hop industry specifically, and over the arts, culture and society in general.

March 29

1875 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that women don’t have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment in Minor v. Happersett (88 U.S. 162)
The Supreme Court rules that women do not have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. They had argued that their right to vote could not be denied by the state under the amendment The Court rejected the argument, stating that the 14th Amendment was only intended to apply to black males. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court awarded equal protection and due process rights to corporations. Women would not be granted the right to vote until 1920. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) barring discrimination based on sex passed Congress in 1972 but only 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify it did so, and it died in 1982.

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