Monday, May 14, 2012

Corporations are people? Money is speech? How did that happen!?

Ever wonder how we got to corporations are people with the same free speech rights as you and I? Robert Tracy, professor emeritus at DePaul University and member of the Elmhurst committee of the DPDC, connects the dots. You can contact Bob at Don't forget to sign the Motion to Amend at the bottom of the page.

As persons, we would like to be wealthy and prosperous, a pursuit legitimized in our Constitution.
An efficient way to create wealth is to develop a corporate machine, with organization and staff that will make money for us even when we are resting or absent. To the extent that a corporation is profitable—and modern corporations are extremely profitable—they have the wherewith-all to hire huge staffs of lawyers and advocates, some located outside the main corporate offices. For the first 75 years or so after the American Revolution, corporations existed only if they demonstrably served the public good. 

About 126 years ago, corporate lawyers realized that corporations could become even more prosperous if they had special rights and privileges, such as those available to natural persons under the US Constitution. On May 10, 1886 in the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the Supreme Court gave corporations as “persons,” equal protections under law, as provided by the 14th Amendment. Since then, there has been case after case in which the Court expanded the Constitutional "rights" of corporations. 

Today corporate advocates argue that the public good is met if a corporation makes money for its owners. Supposedly, the public good will be guaranteed by a sufficient number of corporations filling niches of need, together with a “free” market that inspires a competitive work ethic. The above guarantee was refuted by the 2007-2008 catastrophic failure of the big banks, their subsequent bailout with taxpayer funds, their supposed “recovery;” and the absence of a subsequent recovery of the larger economy

Most recently, in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Comm. (2010), the Supreme Court gave the most explicit justification of corporate personhood (asserted without proof): Corporations are Persons with constitutionally given rights of free speech under the 1st Amendment.  Also, without proof, they asserted that Money is the same as Speech. Combine these two ideas with the huge financial resources of corporations, and it’s clear the Supreme Court has given corporations the right to unlimited spending in political elections, enabling  wealthy corporations to have a determining influence on the outcome of elections. 

On this anniversary of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad, will you do your part for real democracy by signing and finding ten people to sign a Motion to Amend the constitution which denies that corporations are people and money equals speech? If each of us collects 10 signatures, we would reach over a million people! Such a turnout would encourage the next steps toward a constitutional amendment.

No comments:

Post a Comment