October 7, 2020
Greg Coleridge | Outreach Director, National Move to Amend Coalition
Happy Democracy Day in Kent, Ohio!
We wouldn’t be here this evening if not for the tireless efforts of Kent residents to place the issue of ending big money in politics and corporate rule on the ballot and to create this annual public hearing — as well as for Kent voters to pass this initiative.
Much of tonight’s testimony focuses on the harms of big money in elections: harms from money invested by the super rich and corporate entities, harms from the local to the global, and harms to people, places and the planet. This includes harms to authentic self governance and to our environment here in Ohio from the legalized bribery, if not actual bribery, of those connected to First Energy corporation, if not the polluting corporation itself, in influencing public policy away from renewable energy to bailing out their polluting and dangerous fossil fuel and nuclear plants.
But we must not forget harms caused by corporations that have hijacked constitutional amendments that go beyond spending/investing money in elections — corporate political First Amendment free speech rights — that drowns out the political voices of people who aren’t corrupting the political process because they are investing huge sums of money in elections.
A few examples of court-invented corporate constitutional rights:
States that have tried to compel the listing of bovine growth hormones on products or list certain chemicals that they feel are cancer causing have been rejected by courts as violations of corporate First Amendment rights “not to speak.”
Public regulatory agencies which have tried to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers, consumers and the environment through inspections of corporate factories and other facilities have been rejected by courts as violations of corporate Fourth Amendment “search and seizure” rights.
Public regulatory agencies that have passed laws protecting the public from corporate mining and other plundering of the land without compensation have been rejected by courts as violations of corporate Fifth Amendment “takings” rights.
As a reminder, the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are part of the Bill of Rights — meant to apply exclusively to human persons. Corporations aren’t mentioned in the Constitution.
Finally, among others, are efforts by local communities just like Kent, which value local businesses. Communities and states that have tried to give preferential treatment to local businesses over chain stores have been overruled by courts as violations of corporate Fourteenth Amendment “equal protection” rights — as discriminatory. You may recall that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to apply exclusively to freed black slaves.
The same hijacking of democratic self-rule has occured when multiple passed citizen-driven state-wide ballot measures have been overturned in court stating that only those who work farms can own farms — as an effort to repel out-of-state agri-businesses.
These examples merely summarize the breadth and depth of the corporate hijacking of authentic self-governance for more than a century — way beyond mere corporate political First Amendment free speech rights.
I invite you to learn more about the full extent of corporate constitutional rights at https://www.movetoamend.org/corporate-constitutional-rights
This is why enactment of the We the People Amendment (HJR 48) is so important, which will abolish ALL never-intended, inalienable constitutional rights for corporate entities. As Section I states, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only….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.”
Thank you Kent citizens for being part of this growing movement.
I invite Kent City Councilpersons to encourage colleagues in other communities, at the very least, to pass a resolution calling on Congress to enact the We the People Amendment, if not to place a measure directly on the ballot for local voter consideration.