Saturday, August 17, 2013

Corporations have more constitutional rights than humans

We have reached a point in history in which aggregates of capital (corporations) now have the inalienable human rights described in the Bill of Rights, i.e., Free Speech, petition the government for redress of grievances, unreasonable searches and seizures, due process of law, and a speedy trial. These "Rights" have all been granted not by Congress, which makes laws, but by the Supreme Court, which refines laws made by Congress.

In the wake of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, and the 14th Amendment defined who can be a citizen. The 14th Amendment then goes on to state that "...nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law...." Clever corporate railroad lawyers decided to exploit the 14th Amendment in order to increase corporate power and wealth. Corporations have been considered "fictional persons" since English Common Law was codified in the 12th century. The legal fictional of corporate personhood facilitated their being taxed by government and sued in court.

In 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the court affirmed the right of a corporation to get due process of law under the 14th Amendment. Although it may be clear to you or me that the 14th Amendment was intended for freed slaves, the fact is that the term "person" was not defined. It didn't say "black persons" or "natural persons" or "fictional persons;" it just said "person." So corporate lawyers argued that corporate persons are to be included, and the Supreme Court let it happen. Now, more than a century of legal precedents have been built on that fateful case.

The State of Vermont passed a law requiring that all Vermont dairy products be labeled if they contain Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a product manufactured by Monsanto. In 1996, the Supreme Court struck down that Vermont law in International Dairy Foods Association v. Amestoy (the VT attorney general). The Court ruled that the right to Free Speech also implies the right NOT TO SPEAK! And so the Supreme Court awarded an international dairy food association more rights under the U.S. Constitution than the citizens of Vermont!

Right now, several states are running campaigns to label GMO's in food (more Monsanto products). Yet, based on the 1996 SCOTUS precedent, corporate persons have the right NOT TO SPEAK; therefore, no GMO labeling law will survive judicial review as long as corporations have constitutional rights.

Members of Congress have been bought and paid for by corporations due to our current system of privately financed election campaigns. The amount of money spent on election campaigns is obscene. Therefore, we can't expect Congress to correct this error. Anyway, Congress can't overrule the Supreme Court, although the Supreme Court CAN overrule Congress! The way to correct this 127 year old misappropriation of justice is with a constitutional amendment driven by We the People.

A dozen or more amendments have been proposed in Congress to correct what is often framed as "the damage done by Citizen's United." The system was broken long before the 2010 Citizen's United decision, so this framing of the problem is a distraction from the real issue. Overturning Citizen's United will only return us to an era of inadequate campaign finance regulations. Regulations don't work because the regulatory boards are always staffed with industry insiders who weaken regulations in favor of corporate profits over the health and well being of the People.

H.J.Res 29, the amendment proposed by Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, is the only proposal that eliminates ALL corporate personhood rights under the Constitution.  It is the first and most fundamental step in erecting a Wall of Separation Between Corporation and State. 

In order to rescue democracy in the USA, please demand that your Representative in Congress co-sponsor H.J. Res. 29, the We the People Amendment. Move to Amend

1 comment:

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