Why would I sponsor a bill to encourage our national legislators to support an amendment that removes corporations from the constitutional rights of personhood? This, as with many complex issues, is poorly understood by many Americans, including many of our legislators here in New Hampshire.
Anyone who studies the issue, will find that since 1868, in the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision, the legal community including most Supreme Court justices have assumed that corporations received the rights of persons in that decision. It was a mistake; there has never been a decision by the US Supreme Court, and the only reference to corporate personhood was written by the court clerk in a head note, which has neither legal status nor precedence. But it happened at a time when lobbyists from the dominant corporations of the time when "robber barons" lobbied pervasively to achieve that assumed belief. It may be similar to the phenomenon found when occupying troops "establish facts on the ground", from which to negotiate in the future. It was never the intent of the founding fathers to grant corporate personhood. Study the reasons behind the Boston tea party
and one sees that it was a protest against the corporate monopoly granted by King George III to the East India Company. The founders established a government to prevent the kinds of concentration of power practiced by the Crown prior to our independence.
Another Nike funded study, "found evidence of physical and verbal abuse and sexual harassment at nine of its factories in Indonesia." In a lawsuit filed by a lawyer upset with Nike's misleading claims about their workers health and safety standards and the apparent cover up of their auditors' report, Nike argued, "even if petitioners statements could be characterized as ‘commercial speech', the legal regime by the California Supreme Court violates the First Amendment". (Hartman's interpretation here - "we are a company which is the same as a person and so we have a First Amendment right to say whatever we want, just like anybody else." p. 167).
Even with probable
cause, "the EPA can't inspect a chemical factory without the
permission corporation that owns it" (p. 224). And most
significantly, for American democracy today, in January 2010, the
Supreme Court "ruled that it is unconstitutional for Congress to pass
or the president to sign into law any restrictions on the right of
corporations to pour money into political campaigns as long as the money
is not given directly to politicians, their campaigns, or their
parties" (p. 174). Besides nullifying most of McCain-Feingold campaign
finance reform law, this decision led to the more than $5 million in
outside, largely anonymous, spending that helped to defeat Sen.
Feingold, an outspoken advocate of community rights over corporate
rights. There cannot be legislation restricting corporate money until
they are not regarded as persons.
New Hampshire legislators
need to pay close attention to Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent in
Citizens United:"the fact that corporations are different from human
beings might seem to need no elaboration, except that the majority
opinion almost completely elides (confuses) it… unlike natural
persons, corporations have "limited liability" for their
owners and managers, "perpetual life", separation of ownership
and control, "and favorable treatment of the accumulation of
assets… that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy
their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders
investments… it is an interesting question "who" is even
speaking when a business corporation places an advertisement that
endorses or attacks a particular candidate. Presumably it is not the
customers or the employees, who typically have no say in such
Top of this page
Front Page Archives Great links
Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")