REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 5 – 11

June 5

1967 – See v. Seattle [387 U.S. 541] Supreme Court decision – corporations protected from random inspections under the 4th Amendment
The Supreme Court grants corporations 4th Amendment protection from random inspection by fire departments. The Court framed the issue on the basis of “business enterprises,” corporate or otherwise. An administrative warrant is necessary to enter and inspect commercial premises. Without random inspections it became virtually impossible to enforce meaningful anti-pollution, health, and safety laws.
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2008 – Judge rules Blackwater Corporation is a person
Blackwater Corporation sued the City of San Diego to force it to issue the company a certificate of occupancy for its training facility in Otay Mesa before the plan went through the city’s public review process. Blackwater claimed its constitutional due process rights had been violated and that it needed to open its training facility on time to meet its contractual terms. “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract,” ruled U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.
http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/metro/20080605-9999-1m5black.html

June 6

2006 – Voters in Humboldt County, CA pass initiative to protect right to fair elections and local democracy
“Measure T: the Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy” was passed by a vote of 55% to 45%. The measure prohibited corporations from outside the county from bankrolling political campaigns. The measure made clear that Humboldt citizens do not believe corporations are legal people and that only humans have constitutional rights.

June 7

1954 – Death of Maury Maverick, U.S. Congressman from Texas
“Democracy to me is liberty plus economic security.”

2001 – Publication of “Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies” by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), Edited by Dean Ritz
The book is considered by many to be a standard introductory book for anti-corporate activism.
“In these 70 essays, speeches, sermons and screeds, [the contributors] probe: corporations as ‘legal persons’; corporate social responsibility as a ploy; strategies for amending state corporation codes and challenging judge-made laws; and much, much more. This collection, which Howard Zinn calls ‘powerfully persuasive,’ chronicles POCLAD’s evolution – among the twelve POCLADers and with thousands of activists. Here are hidden histories, crisp analyses and thoughtful responses to corporate apologists – all in one provocative book.”

“From studying popular movements of the past we discover that men of property wrote their laws to protect themselves from too much democracy…[c]orporations today act in the capacity of governments. Energy corporations determine our nation’s energy policies. Automobile corporations determine our nation’s transportation policies. Military manufacturing corporations determine our nation’s defense policies…Corporations…outlawed control by local government over the “placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”
https://rowman.com/isbn/9781891843105

June 8

1845 – Death of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States
“The bold effort the present (central) bank had made to control the government … are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American people, should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it.”

“If Congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given to be used by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

June 9

1827 – Birth of Frances Miles Finch, member of the Court of Appeals of New York State – corporate charters are revocable
The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in People v. North River Sugar Refining Co., [121 N.Y. 582, 608, 24 N.E. 834, 1890] that the company’s participation in the sugar trust violated the terms of its state charter or license. At the time, people believed that when a corporation exceeded or abused its power and such abuse harms the public welfare, legislatures should revoke the corporation’s charter and dissolve the corporation.
Writing for the majority in support of charter revocation and dissolution of the company, Judge Finch stated, “[t]he life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen. . .”

June 10

1932 – Speech by Louis McFadden (R-Pa), Chair of the U.S. House Banking and Currency Committee on the Floor of Congress
“The Federal Reserve (Banks) are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen…What is needed here is a return to the Constitution of the United States. We need to have a complete divorce of Bank and State. The old struggle that was fought out here in Jackson’s day must be fought over again… The Federal Reserve Act should be repealed and the Federal Reserve Banks, having violated their charters, should be liquidated immediately.”

June 11

1880 – Birth of Jeannette Rankin, first Congresswoman in the United States
“Establish democracy at home, based on human rights as superior to property rights!”

1923 – Kentucky Finance Corporation v. Paramount Auto Exchange Corporation [262 U.S. 544, 550]
U.S. Supreme Court declares, “a state has no more power to deny to corporations the equal protection of the law than it has to individual citizens.”

1961 – Death of Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Horn, on the fraud of creating electric regulatory commissions
“No shrewder piece of political humbuggery and downright fraud has ever been placed upon the statute books. It’s supposed to be legislation for the people. In fact, it’s legislation for the power oligarchy.”

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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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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 22 – 28

May 22

1898 – Death of Edward Bellamy, on private vs public power in “Looking Backward.”
“Looking Backward” was a utopian novel written in 1888 set in the year 2000. From the book: “The records of the period show that the outcry against the concentration of capital was furious. Men believed that it threatened society with a form of tyranny more abhorrent than it had ever endured. The believed that the great corporations were preparing for them the yoke of a baser servitude than had ever been imposed on the race, servitude not to men but to soulless machines incapable of any motive but insatiable greed. Looking back, we cannot wonder at their desperation, for certainly humanity was never confronted with a fate more sordid and hideous than would have be the era of corporate tyranny which they anticipated.”

From the book’s introduction by Professor W.J. Miller: “Reading Bellamy, history buffs readily recognize Nationalist principles in twentieth-century social legislation. One typical instance of a Bellamy principle that bore fruit: He had urged the government to set up federal corporations to discover whether non-profit industries could serve humanity better than private companies did. Along these lines the New Deal created the Tennessee Valley Authority. One of its functions was to serve as a “yardstick,” to measure actual costs of generating electricity against the prices charged by utilities run for profit.

May 23

1838 – U.S. troops begin forced removal of Cherokees from their land
Congress agreed to provide a 2-year “grace” period for Cherokees to “voluntarily” leave their lands in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas for Oklahoma and further west. About 25% of those forced to relocate beginning on this date died from exposure, disease and starvation during the journey. What became known as the “Trail of Tears” was the forced removal of numerous Native American nations in the east, which included people from the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations.

1933 – Articles of impeachment presented in the U.S. House of Representatives against the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Officers and Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, the US Secretary of Treasury and others for their collusion in causing the Great Depression
US Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, introduced the Articles of Impeachment. McFadden stated,

“The Great Depression was not accidental; it was a carefully contrived occurrence… bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here, so that they might emerge as rulers of us all.

“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.  I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks.  Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions.  They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders, which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers….The truth is, the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly, which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”

May 24

1941 – Birth of George Lakoff, Professor, cognitive linguist, author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”
“[There is much that is unframed by the general public that needs to be framed…runaway wealth to the wealthy…runaway climate change…[and] runaway privatization of public resources. But there is an important framing that is beginning to catch on: The Constitution applies only to human beings. Conceptual metaphors have no legal standing.”

1999 –  Supreme Court affirms corporate 5th and 14th Amendment rights
A corporation wanted to develop a residential complex on ocean front property in Monterey, California. Public officials rejected the application based on various laws protecting the human and natural community…and in response to wide public pressure. The corporation eventually sold the land to the state of California for a profit. It then sued Monterey for violating its “corporate rights” under the Takings, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the corporation on the first two claims and awarded it damages of $1.45 million paid from city funds.

The case was Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd. v. City of Monterey, 95F.3d 1422 (9th Cir. 1996), aff’d, 526 U.S. 687

May 25

1787 – US Constitutional Convention convenes
Convention delegates (all white, male, property-owners) had originally come together merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. Constitution. Merchants opposed the powers of individual states under the Articles to define the terms of trade. The new Constitution transferred state powers regarding trade to the federal level – creating what many believed was the template for modern-day so-called trade agreements that seek to transfer power regarding trade from the federal level to the international level.

The Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Convention did not include the Bill of Rights, which later became the first 10 Amendments.  Numerous other anti-democratic provisions of this Constitution are outlined at http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html

2004 – Founding of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives at U.S. Conference of Democratic Workplaces in Minneapolis.
“The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Our membership also includes democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives.  In 2014, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary, with over 100 member workplaces across the country that are building a dynamic movement for democratic worker-ownership.

“Our mission is to create a thriving cooperative movement through the development of stable and empowering jobs and worker-ownership. We advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development…Our 100+ (and growing!) worker cooperative and democratic workplace members represent over 1600 individual worker-owners.”  https://www.usworker.coop/about

May 26

1894 – Moran v. Sturges [154, U.S. 256] 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.

1924 –Immigration Act enacted
Also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, the law created an immigration quota system based on national origin favoring “Nordics” over the “inferior” races of Asia & Southern and Eastern Europe.  Immigration of Africans was severely restricted. Arabs and Asians were banned outright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

May 27

1964 – Death of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian nationalist leader and first Prime Minister
“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”

1998 – Retired judge seeks to revoke the charters of tobacco corporations
Retired Alabama Judge William Wynn filed court documents (called a writ of quo warranto) to revoke the charters of five tobacco corporations and, therefore, should be dissolved. Acting as a private citizen, Wynn claims that Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, The Liggett Group, and Lorillard Corporations violated various long-standing state laws, including contributing to the dependency of a minor, unlawful distribution of material harmful to a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, assault in the third degree, recklessly endangering another, deceptive business practice, and causing the delinquency of a child.

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama but was transferred to federal court and then back again to the Circuit Court, where it was dismissed with no opinion provided for its dismissal. Both the governor and attorney general had close links to the tobacco industry.

The original case citation is William Wynn, ex. rel., v. Philip Morris, Inc. et al. 51 F. Supp. 2d 1232 (N.D. Ala. 1999). The federal court citation is 51 F.Supp.2d 1232

May 28

1830 – Congress passes Indian Removal Act
Indigenous communities are forced from their homelands. Over 10 years, 100,000 native children and adults march thousands of miles west into unknown arid territory in Oklahoma. Fifteen thousand people do not survive the journey. However, over 25 million acres of land is made available for white settlers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

1892 – Sierra Club founded – establishes “Corporate Accountability Committee” in 1990’s
One of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the nation, the Club established a “Corporate Accountability Committee” in the 1990s. The Committee looked beyond the behavior of individual corporations and toward the underlying constitutional rules (i.e. Supreme Court decisions) that give them their power. Through talks and workshops, the Committee also explored democratic strategies in response to growing corporate rule, specifically revoking corporate charters. Ruth Caplan and Jim Price were among the Committees initiators.
http://vault.sierraclub.org/planet/200111/investing.asp

2014 – Death of Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
From:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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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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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 8 – 14

May 8

1899 – Birth of Friedrich A. Hayek – economist, social theorist and political philosopher

“Nowhere has democracy ever worked well without a great measure of local self-government.”

May 9

2010 – Mother’s Day (it’s May 14 this year)

Anna Jarvis held the first “Mother’s Day” in 1908, a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to address public health issues.

Although Jarvis successfully founded Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Source: Wikipedia.

May 10

1823 – Birth of John Sherman, US Senator of Ohio on Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.

The federal law trumped much stronger anti-trust laws that had already been passed by many states.

His words in support of the Act: “[P]eople are feeling the power and grasp of these combinations, and are demanding of every State Legislature and of Congress a remedy for this evil, only grown into huge proportions in recent times… You must heed their appeal, or be ready for the socialist, the communist and the nihilist.”

1886 – Yick Wo v. Hopkins [118 U.S 356] Supreme Court decision

The Court ruled that aliens (persons living in the U.S. who are not citizens) are protected by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment

1886 – Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad [118 U.S. 394] – corporations first granted corporate “rights”

“The Court does not wish to hear argument on the question of whether the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.”

This statement by the Court before the hearing meant “corporations” were included in the word “person” in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case was ultimately decided on other grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court reiterated and reinforced the Santa Clara “corporate personhood” ruling in more than twenty different cases.

May 11

1935 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA)

The REA was created to supply electricity to rural areas of the country that private electricity corporations ignored since it wasn’t profitable. Neighbors joined together in rural areas to create cooperatives that borrowed money from the REA to build electrical systems.

As late as the mid-1930s, nine out of 10 rural homes were without electric service. By the mid-1950’s, more than 90% of U.S. farms had electricity. About 99% of our nation’s farms today have electricity thanks to locally owned rural electric cooperatives sparked by REA loans.

May 12

1937 – Birth of comedian George Carlin

Carlin on the American Dream:

“Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have owners! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

“They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want: They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests…

“It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” http://shoqvalue.com/george-carlin-on-the-american-dream-with-transcript/

May 13

1819 – Birth of Walt Whitman, American poet “

Did you … suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction … in religion, literature, colleges and schools: Democracy in all public and private life.”

May 14

1940 – Death of Emma Goldman, anarchist and feminist

“Democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world.” “The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul.”

2015 – “Oldest Person in the World Turns 129″ Mike Ferner and Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principals, published this month

“The ins and outs of this story…make two things perfectly clear: 1) the conflict between public and private interests has been ongoing since the nation was founded and 2) ‘The law’ is not something handed to us on stone tablets, but is an evolving interpretation serving the interests of those who have the power to make it stick.

“That’s why this democracy business is so damn important.” http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2015/BWA_2015_May.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 1-7

May 1

1847 – Birth of Henry Demarest Lloyd

“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.”

American political activist and muckraking journalist Lloyd was best known for his exposes of the Standard Oil Company.

2003 – UU WORLD May/June issue “Does He Have More Rights Than You Do?” published this month

The Unitarian Universalists become the first religious denomination in the US to devote an entire issue of their monthly magazine to the issue of corporate personhood as it relates to self-governance. The whole issue is worth reading: http://archive.uuworld.org/2003/03/index.html

May 2

2000 – “Gender and Global Corporatization” by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick published this month in Spring issue of Peace & Freedom, a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

May 3

2002 – “The End of Agribusiness: Dismantling the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule:” by Dave Henson, Director of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) and POCLAD principal, published this month

“However, an honest assessment of the overall effectiveness of this strategy of regulating corporate harms must conclude that it is a limited strategy and that it has ultimately licensed an unsustainable and unacceptable level of ecological destruction and marginalized our most fundamental concerns. We have been fighting corporate assaults against nature timber harvest plan by timber harvest plan; factory farm by factory farm; dying stream by dying stream. We are constantly being called to fight against new and more virulent crises. If we win one, there is little time to celebrate because there are many more crises created by corporate agribusiness every day. Corporations have grown and become far more powerful in this regulatory environment. In short, corporations have successfully framed both the arena of struggle and the terms of the debate, and have limited us to incremental compromises…

“What happens when we try to reassert democratic, public control over major economic decisions?… Corporate attorneys (and they are plentiful) respond with legal defenses based on the fiction that a corporation is a legal “person” in terms of constitutional protections. They use the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to assert that states, counties, and cities have no authority to restrict interstate and transnational commerce. They assert for the corporation the property rights, due process, and equal protection guarantees meant in the Constitution for real, human persons…

“To win this fight… we must do three kinds of activism at once.
1. Fight Fires…
2. Create Alternatives…
3. Dismantle the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule…
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2002/BWA_2002_MAY.html

2016 – Pennsylvania Township passes law legalizing direct action against corporate frack wastewater injection well
From a press release

“Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

“If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

May 4

2014 – “And What Do We Do Now?” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal, published this month

“Now that most people perceive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be over… will this legion of tenacious, tireless citizens from backwoods, big cities and everything in between, redirect their energies and skills?…

“Today, unlike the period following the war in Viet Nam, there is a movement that has a clear, fundamental goal that addresses these questions and a strategy to achieve it: to greatly expand democracy so that we the people, not corporations, do the governing; so our elections aren’t sold to the highest bidder; so private interests can’t determine national policy in healthcare or education or energy…or war.

“What I’m talking about is MoveToAmend.org, a national grassroots campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to remove corporate money from elections and end the insane practice of giving the legal fictions we call corporations the same constitutional rights as real human beings…

“Personally, I’ve been a chump on defense long enough and I’d like to start winning for a change. Move to Amend is the only game I know of with a vision to change the rules of the game so that “winning” actually means we start running the show, not just rejoicing that we’ve stopped a weapons system or elected Tweedledum instead of Tweedledummer.”
http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_May.html

May 5

1911 – Birth of Edward J. Devitt, United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota, author of article “Your Honor” in “Handbook for Judges”

“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.”
“Handbook for Judges,” Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society, 1975)

May 6

1882 – Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act

The law banned Chinese immigration of both skilled and unskilled workers for ten years. It was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was repealed in 1943.

2015 – “Amending the US constitution: the political rarity that’s suddenly in vogue” published article

“Constitutional experts say an increase in activity could coincide with the influential campaign for a balanced budget, which claims to be within seven states of the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to trigger an alternative method for seeking amendments…Triggering a convention is still an enormous long-shot and one that could be easily blocked by challenges in the supreme court, yet its possibility highlights the extent of legal uncertainties….’Nobody has really thought hard about any of these issues – it hasn’t come up since 1789 – and nobody is paying much attention to it right now,’ adds Seidman. ‘But that’s a possibility that would shake a lot of things loose. It’s possible such a convention would consider things like campaign finance.’…That would certainly please the other grassroots movements pushing hard for an amendment that sees the dominance of corporate money in politics as just the sort of issues the founders expected to see tackled…One such group is called Move to Amend. It seeks to reform campaign finance by removing the protected status of corporations which it says lies at the heart of the 2010 supreme court ruling that political campaign spending is a form of free speech protected by the first amendment.
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/06/amending-consitution-politics-trend?CMP=share_btn_fb

May 7

1879 – Ratification of California Constitution – on corporate rights

“The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be so abridged or construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies and subjecting them to public use the same as the property of individuals, and the exercise of the police power of the State shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State. “ (Article XII, Section 8) http://archives.cdn.sos.ca.gov/collections/1879/archive/1879-constitution.pdf

2014 – Survey: Broad Bi-Partisan Support for Supreme Court Reforms

A national survey on the Supreme Court concluded that just 35% of respondents gave the Court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices. Larger majorities would require Supreme Court Justices to follow the U.S. Judicial Code of Conduct – the ethical code that binds other federal judges from which they are currently exempt (85%) and for Justices to disclose any outside activities paid for by others (80%). http://www.democracycorps.com/National-Surveys/broad-bi-partisan-consensus-supports-reforms-to-supreme-court/

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REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 24 – 30

April 24

1936 – Death of Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley), humorist and writer

“I niver knew a pollytician to go wrong ontil he’s been contaminated by contact with a business man.”

April 25

2000 – Point Arenas CA becomes first modern-day community in nation to pass resolution challenging corporate personhood 

“• Whereas, the Citizens of the City of Point Arena hope to nurture and expand democracy in our community and our nation; and

• Whereas, democracy means governance by the people and only natural persons should be able to participate in the democratic process; and

• Whereas, interference in the democratic process by corporations frequently usurps the rights of citizens to govern; and

• Whereas, corporations are artificial entities separate and apart from natural persons, are not naturally endowed with consciousness or the rights of natural persons, are creations of law and are only permitted to do what is authorized under law; and

• Whereas, rejecting the concept of corporate personhood will advance meaningful campaign finance reform.

• Now, therefore, be it resolved that: the City Council of the City of Point Arena agrees with Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in a 1938 opinion in which he stated, “I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations;” and

Be it further resolved that the City of Point Arena shall encourage public discussion on the role of corporations in public life and urge other cities to foster similar public discussion.”

Jan Edwards and others promoted the resolution campaign with the Redwood Coast Alliance for Democracy

April 26

1978 – First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti – corporations win right to spend money in elections

Corporations win the First Amendment “free speech” right to spend money influencing ballot measures. The Supreme Court ruling (435 U.S. 765, 822) threw out a Massachusetts law and nullified the laws of thirty states that had adopted similar legislation prohibiting corporate spending to influence ballot issues. Dissent by Justices White, Brennan, Marshall: “Corporations are artificial entities created by law for the purpose of furthering certain economic ends…It has long been recognized…that the special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only our economy but the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process…The state need not allow its own creation to consume it.” Rehnquist also dissented: “The blessings of perpetual life and limited liability…so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere.”

This ruling coupled with Buckley v. Valeo is used to deny democratic attempts by We the People to remove corporate money from politics.

April 27

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson on helping business corporations

“We haven’t done anything for business this week — but it is only Monday morning.”

— speech to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

2009 – Comment by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin – banks own Congress

“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

What was a refreshing bit of true reality in 2009 is even truer today. The finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector tops all sectors in political campaign contributions (or are they investments?) to Washington politicians. The return on their investments are substantial – no indictments of top bankers responsible for the 2008 sub-prime crisis and financial implosion, bailouts galore…and, of course the continuation of the license to print debt money that is loaned to the US – at interest.

April 28

1890 – Leisy v. Hardin [135 U.S. 100, 128] Supreme Court decision – federal Commerce Clause overrules state law protecting citizens. 

The Court ruled that the laws of Iowa prohibiting in-state sales of out-of-state produced alcohol were unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. The state argued that the state had the right to bar sales under the “police powers” of Iowa that charges the state with protecting the life, health and welfare of its citizens. The Court disagreed.

In his dissent, Justice Gray stated:

“The police power includes all measures for the protection of the life, the health, the property and the welfare of the inhabitants, and for the promotion of good order and the public morals. It covers the suppression of nuisances, whether injurious to the public health, like unwholesome trades, or to the public morals, like gambling houses and lottery tickets.

This power, being essential to the maintenance of the authority of local government, and to the safety and welfare of the people, is inalienable. As was said by Chief Justice Waite, referring to earlier decisions to the same effect, ‘No legislature can bargain away the public health or the public morals. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. The supervision of both these subjects of governmental power is continuing in its nature, and they are to be dealt with as the special exigencies of the moment may require. Government is organized with a view to their preservation, and cannot divest itself of the power to provide for them.’”

1915 – Founding of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF)

As part of the WILPF’s ‘”Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights” national campaign in the early 2000’s, study materials were developed and six-session study groups were formed across the country to “explore the history and roots of corporate power, examine global corporatization, decolonize our minds, and participate in democratic conversation.”

April 29

2015 – We the People Amendment, HJR 48, introduced in US House of Representatives 

“Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

Richard Nolan (D-MN) was the primary sponsor and the resolution currently has 14 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

April 30

2011 – Washington State Democratic Party passes “Amending the U.S. Constitution to Reserve Constitutional Rights for People, not Corporations” resolution

The resolution calls on the state legislature to pass a resolution urging Congress “to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to establish that a corporation shall not be considered a person eligible for rights accorded to human beings under the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution also declares “the use of money to influence elections or the acts of public officials shall not be considered a protected form of speech.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 17 – 23

April 17

1905 – Lochner v. New York [198 U.S. 45] Supreme Court decision – use of the 14th Amendment to invalidate government regulation of corporations

The decision was one of the most controversial in the history of the Court. It concluded that “liberty of contract” was inferred in the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment (originally intended to apply to freed black slaves). The specific case involved the state of New York seeking to limit working hours to 10 per day and 60 each week. The Court rejected the claim that the law was needed to protect the health of workers, asserting that the labor law was an “”unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.” In other words, the majority of Justices felt that the law inhibited the constitutional right of workers and employers to make contracts freely.

The implications were devastating. The decision shielded corporations from vast forms of government regulation. The Court invalidated approximately 200 economic regulations from 1905 until the mid-1930’s passed by legislators — usually under this interpretation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment

April 18

1996 – Publication this month of “Corporations for the Seventh Generation: Changing the Ground Rules, Part 1” by Jane Anne Morris, corporate anthropologist and POCLAD principal

“What if…

• corporations were required to have a clear purpose, to be fulfilled but not exceeded;

• corporations’ licenses to do business were revocable by the state legislature if they exceeded or did not fulfill their chartered purpose(s);

• the state legislature could revoke a corporation’s charter for a particular reason, or for no reason at all;

• the act of incorporation did not relieve corporate management or stockholders/owners of responsibility or liability for corporate acts;

• as a matter of course, corporation officers, directors, or agents could be held criminally liable for violating the law;

• state (not federal) courts heard cases where corporations or their agents were accused of breaking the law or harming the public;

• directors of the corporation were required to come from among stockholders;

• corporations had to have their headquarters and meetings in the state where their principal place of business was located;

• corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, like 20 or 30 years (instead of being granted “in perpetuity,” as is now the practice);

• corporations were prohibited from owning stock in other corporations in order to prevent them from extending their power inappropriately;

• corporations’ real estate holdings were limited to what was necessary to carry out their specific purpose(s);

• corporations were prohibited from making any political contributions, direct or indirect;

• corporations were prohibited from making charitable or civic donations outside of their specific purposes;

• state legislatures set the rates that corporations could charge for their products or services;

• all corporation records and documents were open to the legislature or the state attorney general?

All of these provisions were once law in the state of Wisconsin. And similar ones existed in most other states.”

From http://poclad.org/BWA/1996/BWA_1996_APR.html

April 19

1775 – Revolutionary War Begins

Shots fired and the subsequent battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. Colonists sought independence not only from the Crown (King), but also from the Crown’s military arm (Redcoats, which oppressed the colonists) and from the Crown’s economic/governing arms (Crown corporations, chartered by the King to conduct the King’s affairs in the colonies – which also oppressed). Examples included the Massachusetts Bay Company, the Carolina Company, the Maryland Company and the Virginia Company. The Revolution constitutionalized these corporations, transforming them into states or commonwealths. It also democratized “sovereignty” from rule by a single person to in principle We the People. In practice, only white, male property owners assumed power and rule.

2012 – Vermont Becomes First State to Call for Amendment Removing Corporations From Constitution

“[Other states] have passed resolutions against the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, but the Vermont resolution goes beyond simply overturning that case and aims to remove corporations from the constitution altogether and make clear that money is not speech and that campaign spending and political contributions can be regulated by government.”

http://movetoamend.org/press-release/vermont-legislature-calls-constitutional-amendment-end-corporate-personhood-and

April 20

1868 – Birth of John Hylan, New York City Mayor – corporations and their leaders like a giant octopus 

Hylan was Mayor of New York from 1918-1925. He said, “The real menace of our republic is this invisible government, which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen…At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.”

1920 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

In his 2014 book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” Stevens proposed the following Constitutional Amendment:

“Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”

April 21

1796 – Birth of Thomas Earle, U.S. journalist and lawyer – on power of Supreme Court  

Many citizens were outraged by the power of the Supreme Court, which they considered to be a direct  attack on the sovereignty of “We the People.”  In one protest pamphlet, journalist Thomas Earle penned:

“It is aristocracy and despotism, to have a body of officers, whose decisions are, for a long time, beyond the control of the people. The freemen of America ought not to rest contented, so long as their Supreme Court is a body of that character.”

April 22

1970 – Earth Day, birth of environmental movement

An estimated 20 million people took part across the US in marches, rallies, teach-ins and other public events to demonstrate support for the environment. Much of the environment’s deterioration/destruction from toxic and radioactive dumps, pesticides, wildlife extinction, air pollution, oil spills, raw sewage, wilderness loss and freeways came from corporate actions – that were ignored, sanctioned or subsidized by the government.  The day led to the creation of organizations and massive grassroots pressure leading to the establishment of the EPA and federal laws addressing clean air, water and wildlife protection.

Earth Day went global in 1990. More than 200 million people in over 140 countries took part in activities and sparked a global movement, which continues today against these same issues as well as climate change.

Corporate entities remain a major cause of environmental destruction.

2011 – Students call for constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood

The Associated Students organization of Humboldt State University in California pass a resolution supporting the Move to Amend campaign and calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. The resolution was proposed by a group of students working with Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC).

April 23

2001 – Publication this month of “How Long Shall We Grovel: A Memo for the Record” by Richard Grossman, POCLAD co-founder

“…ANYONE who chooses to look will find massive evidence of chemical corporation murder, pillage & lies extending over a century. ANYONE who chooses to look will see persistent corporate denial of people’s constitutional and human rights, & government complicity. This country exalts the platitude “all political authority is inherent in the people.”

But our great corporations have long been protected by the rule of law … empowered by our own constitution and bill of rights. Our society has bestowed upon chemical corporation leaders, as upon top officials of all giant corporations, the highest rewards & honors, & great wealth.

Great corporations have been exalted by legislators & judges, presidents & governors, police and national guards, by local, state & federal governments. How long shall we authorize chemical corporate officials to kill? How long shall we beg them to tell the truth? To make the earth’s air, water and soil, our foods and our jobs, a little less deadly? To please “give us” the right to know? How long shall we grovel before our elected public servants? Other species are counting on us to do more than regulate the destruction of the planet. What do YOU think we the people should do now?” http://poclad.org/BWA/2001/BWA_2001_APR.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 10 – 16

April 10

1816 – Federal charter granted to create the private Second National Bank of the United States 

As with the earlier First Bank of the United States, the Second National Bank of the United States was private with many of the largest investors being foreigners and those representing great wealth. Congress chartered (licensed) the bank for 20 years.  Corporate charters were democratic tools once used by sovereign people to control and define corporate actions. As a result of bank practices geared to serving the interests of banks/bankers, (including limiting the issuance of money into the economy – which triggered economic stagnation), President Jackson pledged that the bank would not be issued a new charter after its 20-year charter ended. Without a charter – which provides those forming corporations certain legal protections (then and now) – corporations cannot exist.

1900 – State ex rel. Monnett v. Capital City Dairy Co., 62 OS 350 (1900) – example of corporate charter revocation

It was common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries for state legislatures and courts to revoke the charters or licenses of corporations that violated the terms or conditions of their charters. The legal procedure for this was called “quo warranto” in which the state demanded to know what right the corporation possessed to act beyond the terms of its state-granted charter.

Some states were more active than others in utilizing this democratic tool. Here’s an example of the language from an Ohio State Supreme Court “quo warranto” charter revocation decision:

“Quo warranto may be invoked to stop corporation’s disregard of laws in conduct of authorized business, and to oust corporation if abuse be flagrant….The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world. In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.”

1930 – Birth of Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta,  American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW)

Along with UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, Huerta led the effort to democratically and nonviolently educate, advocate and organize the farmworker community. The results were  significant improvements in the lives and working conditions of farmworkers and a change in culture in  how Americans thought about the sources of our food.

April 11

2010 – “To Be Human” sermon delivered by Rev Colin Bossen, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland

“The absence of conscience means that if corporations are to consider anything other than maximizing their profits then it must be outside forces that compel them to do so.

This is a political problem but it is also a spiritual one. It is a political problem because how decisions are made, and who gets to make them, are ultimately questions of politics. Restraining corporate power, and ending corporate personhood, will only come about if people organize to do so. With the Supreme Court on the side corporate personhood it is clear that change will not come from the courts. Instead what is needed is a constitutional amendment delineating that corporations are not afforded protection under the Bill of Rights. Currently the grassroots campaign Move to Amend is pushing just such an amendment. Whether they succeed or not will depend upon how much support they get.

It is a spiritual problem because what differentiates us humans from corporations is spirit. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. Spirit is often equated with the force that propels life forward. Corporations lack this force. They follow a different trajectory. It is trajectory that leads towards a Gibsonian dystopia where the richest live in abundance; the masses in squalor and the planet is threatened with extinction.

The alternative is a world where spirit reigns and the life force is honored above profit.”

From http://www.uucleveland.org/worship/ToBeHuman.php. More info on Move to Amend’s Interfaith Caucus is at https://movetoamend.org/interfaith-caucus

April 12

1787 – The Free African Society is founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones

It was the second African American mutual-aid society to open in the United States. Mutual-aid societies are considered the precursors to formal democratic cooperatives.

From its Preamble: “a society should be formed, without regard to religious tenets, provided the persons lived an orderly and sober life, in order to support one another in sickness, and for the benefit of their widows and fatherless children.”  https://archive.org/stream/economiccooper00duborich#page/21/mode/1up

1945 – Death of Frankin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S. 

“The real truth is…that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/162689-the-real-truth-of-the-matter-is-as-you-and

“The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution not only to protect minorities against intolerance of majorities, but to protect majorities against the enthronement of minorities.”

From The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

Roosevelt also proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” that focused on economic freedoms. “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” The rights included a job, adequate income to meet basic needs, housing, medical care, and education. It also included rights protecting businesspersons from unfair competition and monopolies, and enabling farmers to raise and sell products and earn enough income to have a decent living. The full list is at  http://www.ushistory.org/documents/economic_bill_of_rights.htm

April 13

1743 – Birth of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States – on banks and judicial review

On banks: “And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

On Judicial Review (the doctrine that all legislative and executive actions are subject to the review for constitutionality by the judicial branch), Jefferson warned that it would make the Constitution nothing but “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

1752 – First successful cooperative organized in the United States in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.

The company remains in existence, although its web site notes “The company’s most recent change is structural: The Philadelphia Contributionship Mutual Holding Company is the overall umbrella organization which owns the insurance companies and Vector Security Holdings.” http://www.contributionship.com/history/index.html

April 14

1873 – “Slaughterhouse Cases” – Supreme Court favors corporate protections over civil rights

Combining three cases, this single decision was the first Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868. The Court ruled very narrowly – concluding that individuals possessed federal rights of citizenship, but not state rights of citizenship. Justices didn’t desire in essence the Bill of Rights to be applied to the states for fear that the Court would become a “perpetual censor upon all of legislation of the States” related to civil rights.

The contradiction of this decision was stunning. The same court was during this era a “perpetual censor” of state laws through its use of the Commerce Clause to invalidate scores of democratically enacted local and state laws promoting safety, health and local businesses. This narrow interpretation of the 14th Amendment set back efforts for civil rights and labor rights for decades.

1976 – Death of William Henry Hastie, Jr., American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans

“Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can be easily lost, but is never finally won.”

April 15

1865 – Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with the power to “coin” or create money. Under the Lincoln administration, the US Government issued 450 million “Greenbacks” – interest and inflation-free money – after private banks refused to lend the government funds to pay for the war unless the government agreed to pay exorbitantly high interest payments. Greenbacks weren’t government bill, bonds or any other debt-bearing notes. They were actual US money.

“The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity.”

1975 — Death of Halena Wilson, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Ladies Auxilliary

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was the first official independent Black union. Wilson and the union’s President, A. Philip Randolph (ironically, born on this day in 1889), wrote about, promoted, taught and organized democratic economic cooperatives to keep resources recycling in the Black community.

April 16

1859- Death of Alexis de Tocqueville, French author of “Democracy in America”

“Without power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can contain no citizens.”

[Note: Individuals cannot be citizens unless they possess self-governance. Corporate constitutional right perverts self-governance.]

1930 – Birth of Ronnie Dugger, co- founder, Alliance for Democracy

“We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our healthcare, our pension funds, our banks and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections and our very governments…The issue is not issues, the issue is the system.”

1995 – Presentation of “Certificate of Dissolution: Weyerhaeuser Corporation”

The public presentation was part of a “guerilla theatre” gathering outside the home of Weyerhaeuser Corporation CEO George Weyerhaeuser as an example of how to reframe an issue from one of corporate harm into that of contesting corporate authority and asserting the right of the people to define the very existence of corporations.

After providing a long list of political and ecological abuses, the “Certificate” reads:

“The people of the U.S. retain the unalterable right to revoke the charter of corporations which violate the common good. Originally, after the American Revolution, charters were rarely granted, and often revoked—with their assets distributed to compensate for damages and the corporate owners held accountable for their criminal acts. Today we are re-invoking this right. In addition, the inalienable rights of the existence of numerous species of life upon this Earth demand this revocation. Therefore be it ordained, by the powers of the laws of Washington State and the higher laws of Nature, that the corporate charter of Weyerhaeuser be revoked and the said company dissolved.” http://www.ratical.org/corporations/Weyerhaeuser.html

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REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 3-9

April 3

1837 – National Equal Rights Party passes resolution in response to political corruption and business monopolies

John H. Hunt, a member of the Equal Rights Party, drafted this resolution:

“Whenever a people find themselves suffering under a weight of evils, destructive not only to their happiness, but to their dignity and their virtues; when these evils go on increasing year after year, with accelerating rapidity, and threaten soon to reach that point at which peaceable endurance ceases to be possible; it becomes their solemn duty coolly to search out the causes of their suffering — to state those causes with plainness — and to apply a sufficient and a speedy remedy.”

It passed unanimously by cheering mechanics, farmers and working people during a mass rally in a New York City park.

http://www.archive.org/stream/historyoflocofoc00byrduoft/historyoflocofoc00byrduoft_djvu.txt

April 4

1834 – US House of Representatives Votes Against Re-chartering the Second National Bank of the United States

The US House voted 134-82 against rechartering (re-licensing) the nation’s central bank – a private bank not ultimately accountable to the public but to its shareholders. Charters were originally considered democratic instruments of public control to keep corporations accountable – as opposed to today where charters are issued automatically as long as minimal conditions are met and a fee is paid. The bank had established loan policies that were detrimental to the nation’s economy but very profitable for its owners. The bank’s President, Nicholas Biddle, had threatened to harm the US economy by restricting the nation’s money supply if the charter was not renewed. The bank shrank the money supply. A financial panic and deep depression followed. President Andrew Jackson was convinced that the private bank should not be in charge of issuing and circulating the nation’s money supply.

1968 – Assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

April 5

1588 – Birth of Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher

“Corporations are many lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man.”

Translated: Corporations are worms to the body politic.

April 6 

1937 – Birth of Merle Haggard, country and western singer and songwriter

“Why don’t we liberate these United States? We’re the ones that need it worst. Let’s get out of Iraq an’ get back on the track, and let’s rebuild America first.”

1956 – Birth of Michele Bachmann, four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and founder of the House Tea Party Caucus

In founding the Tea Party Caucus in 2011, she said, “I think it is because of the corrupt paradigm that has become Washington, D.C., whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents. … That’s the voice that’s been missing at the table in Washington, D.C. — the people’s voice has been missing.”

April 7

2003 – Supreme Court rules to slash jury award over Exxon Valdez oil spill based on 5th and 14th Amendments corporate personhood claims

A jury awarded a settlement of $5 billion to 38,000 commercial fishermen and native Alaskans following the spilling of 20 million gallons of oil by the Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Exxon Corporation challenged the settlement amount, claiming that it violated the corporation’s due process constitutional rights by the “excessive” jury award of punitive damages under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and reduced the original jury award settlement to a little over $500 million. A “line of constitutional impropriety” has now been established by the courts that protects large corporations from certain punitive damage awards.

April 8

1901 – John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Warren 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 was one of them.

1913 – States ratify Seventeenth Amendment, allowing for the direct election of senators

The Connecticut legislature ratifies this Constitutional Amendment permitting for the first time direct election of U.S. Senators by citizens.  With 36 states having now ratified the Amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution a month later when certified by the U.S. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan. No longer would state legislatures and the corporate agents behind them choose Senators.

The Amendment represented a victory for the populist and progressive social movements, which included Bryan, who opposed centralized power in the hands of party bosses and politically influential corporations, monopolies and trusts.

April 9

1866 – Passage of Civil Rights Act

This was the first Congressional Act in US history sustained over a presidential veto. It provided that people of different races should have full and equal benefit of the law.

1988 – Publication in New York Times of “Corporations Are Not Persons” by Ralph Nader and Carl Mayer 

“Our constitutional rights were intended for real persons, not artificial creations. The Framers certainly knew about corporations but chose not to mention these contrived entities in the Constitution. For them, the document shielded living beings from arbitrary government and endowed them with the right to speak, assemble and petition.

Today, however, corporations enjoy virtually the same umbrella of constitutional protections as individuals do. They have become in effect artificial persons with infinitely greater power than humans. This constitutional equivalence must end.

…The corporate drive for constitutional parity with real humans comes at a time when legislatures are awarding these artificial persons superhuman privileges. Besides perpetual life, corporations enjoy limited liability for industrial accidents such as nuclear power disasters, and the use of voluntary bankruptcy and other disappearing acts to dodge financial obligations while remaining in business.

The legal system is thus creating unaccountable Frankensteins that have human powers but are nonetheless constitutionally shielded from much actual and potential law enforcement as well as from accountability to real persons such as workers, consumers and taxpayers.

Of course individuals in these companies can always exercise their personal constitutional rights, but the drive for corporate rights is dangerously out of control.

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