What are Kavanaugh’s views on the rights of corporations?


Letter to the editor: September 8, Akron Beacon Journal

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has said that Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh “interprets the law and the Constitution based on their words and original meaning and doesn’t try to influence public policy by imposing his own point of view.” This falls in line with Kavanaugh’s self-assessment that he’s simply an umpire who follows the letter of the law and Constitution.

If actually true, that’s terrific news for the increasing number of people in our country who’ve been victimized by corporations that have been shielded by never-intended constitutional rights — what some call “corporate personhood.”

The Constitution doesn’t mention corporations. That hasn’t prevented activist Supreme Courts for more than a century from overturning hundreds of local, state and federal laws protecting workers, consumers, residents and communities, as well as the environment, based on the illegitimate premise that corporations should have inalienable constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings.

No public official ever voted to create or expand constitutional corporate personhood. No social movement ever organized for more corporate constitutional rights vested with the authority to preempt democratically enacted laws. It has only been unaccountable and extremist judges who’ve expanded corporate rights, leading to reduced human rights.

Since more corporate-related cases will come before the high court in the future, knowing nominees’ views on corporate personhood is legitimate.

As the original Constitution affirms no rights to corporations, “umpire” Kavanaugh should be crystal clear that he believes that the Bill of Rights, 14th Amendment and other constitutional protections should apply only to human beings. If he cannot, he should be opposed.

Greg Coleridge
Outreach director, Move to Amend Coalition
Cleveland Heights

Free speech math


Several conservative websites are abuzz over the charge that there were protesters at the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings this week. Several individuals claim they saw individuals who had been arrested for speaking out inside the hearings being handed cash outside the hearing on the street.

One of the eyewitnesses claimed that he spoke to one of the protest organizers who confirmed giving money to those arrested to pay court fines. It could also have been to compensate the individuals for taking off work. Either way, the conclusion was that the Kavanaugh protests weren’t legitimate.

Opposition to Kavanaugh, of course, is quite legitimate by many people for any reasons. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows Kavanaugh having the third-lowest support of any nominee to the Supreme Court in the poll’s history.

There are also legitimate questions about how legitimately objective if confirmed Kavanaugh would be if Donald Trump is indicted on any number of possible charges under the Mueller investigation. Kavanaugh was, after all, Trump’s choice. Though not atop the list of candidates recommended by the Federalist Society, he just so happened to be the only candidate with a solid record of opposing Presidents being prosecuted while in office. Just a coincidence no doubt.

It’s not a stretch to conclude that those who support Kavanaugh are the most upset about the “paid protesters” at the hearings.

But there’s a huge double standard here.

Kavanaugh’s record is clear in questioning the constitutionality of political candidate contribution limits, limitations affirmed in the Buckley v Valeo 1976 Supreme Court decision. Kavanaugh also is a big fan of the 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court case. Both cases legitimize political campaign spending as being equivalent to political free speech (i.e. money equals speech).

Kavanaugh has also expressed openness to foreign “dark money” political spending. In a 2011 case, Blumen vs FEC, he wrote an opinion upholding a ban on foreign political spending to candidates and campaigns. His opinion, however, excludes foreign spending on “issue ads” (i.e. political ads designed to influence an election without explicitly supporting or opposing any candidate), which can originate from corporations, wealthy individuals and even foreign governments. The sanctioning of foreign-funding of such ads is extremely troubling at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies and others claim Russians were involved in influencing the 2016 elections.

What’s the point of all of this, especially as it relates to paid political protesters?

Simple. As in simple math. Call it “free speech math.”

If “money equals speech” (A = B), then “speech equals money” (B = A).

Translation: protesters who speak out should be paid.

If corporations and the super wealthy can bankroll political attack ads (many of which are done without knowing the sources of the funding, thus the moniker “dark money”), then why the heck can’t protesters be paid for, well, exercising their free speech? During the Kavanaugh hearing. During city council meetings. When protesting on the street. The list is endless. Makes just as much sense as money being defined not as property but as political free speech!

The same people who are outraged about paying people to protest at the Kavanaugh hearing (who all show their faces and will reveal their identities when paying fines) should be much more outraged about the flood of money in our political system which has has been constitutionally shielded by previous Supreme Courts as protected “free speech.” These huge amounts of political cash amount to legalized bribery and results in the drowning out of the voices of the vast majority of people who aren’t investing in political campaigns. The magnitude of the two different forms of “paid speech” isn’t remotely close.

Those who proclaim that paying protesters isn’t legitimately democratic should not only more loudly assert but take action against the ever-growing tsunami of political money from corporate entities and the super duper wealthy flooding our political system as a massive threat to whatever is left of our democratic republic.

Which it is.

Which is why the solution in the short run is to oppose Brett Kavanaugh.

Move to Amend (MTA) supports a constitutional amendment to end political money defined as free speech and corporations in all their forms being anointed with constitutional rights (what many call “corporate personhood.”)

MTA has sent an Open Letter to every member of the Senate stating its objections to his confirmation. MTA has also prepared a questionnaire for US Senators to ask focused on his beliefs about corporate constitutional rights. Forward it to your Senators and request they ask Kavanaugh for his responses.

Please do all you can to oppose the Brett Kavanaugh nomination…whether you’re paid to do it or not.

“Corporate Personhood” should be litmus test for Brett Kavanaugh confirmation



For release on Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Contact:  Greg Coleridge, 216-255-2184, greg@movetoamend.org


[Cleveland, OH] Democracy activists and several local public officials are calling on Ohio’s U.S. Senators to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court if he believes corporations possess the same inalienable constitutional rights as human beings.

The group, organized by the Move to Amend campaign, held a press conference in front of the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse in Cleveland where they read a questionnaire that was later delivered to the offices of U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. The group called on the Senators to ask the specific questions contained in the document to Mr. Kavanaugh before deciding whether to confirm Kavanaugh to the High Court. Each question highlighted a different never-intended constitutional right that previous Supreme Courts had given to corporations (what may call “corporate personhood).

Speaking at the press conference were State Senator Mike Skindell; State Representatives Nickie Antonio and Kent Smith; Harriet Applegate, Executive Secretary of the North Shore Federation AFL-CIO; Ted Seuss, Regional Coordinator of Ohio Single-Payer Action Network; Lois Romanoff, Cleveland Move to Amend co-coordinator; Sally Hanley, Cleveland Heights Move to Amend co-coordinator; and Greg Coleridge, Move to Amend national Outreach Director.

“Corporations aren’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution,” said Greg Coleridge, national Move to Amend Outreach Director. “They’re artificial state creations, originally intended to be subordinate to We the People and defined by legislatures through charters. No citizen or legislature ever voted to grant corporations constitutional rights. Activist Supreme Court rulings for more than a century have placed corporations well beyond the democratic reach of the people. It is past time for all Supreme Court justice nominees to be given a democratic litmus test on their views on corporate constitutional rights during the confirmation process. Toward that end, we’re asking our Senators to ask Brett Kavanaugh the list of questions we’ve developed to determine his views on the subject and oppose him if he supports corporate personhood.”

Move to Amend is a grassroots national coalition working on a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to end corporate constitutional rights and political money defined as protected free speech under the First Amendment. Its We the People Amendment, H.J.R. 48, has 62 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hundreds of organizations and nearly 800 communities, including 23 in Ohio, have passed resolutions or ballot initiatives in support of such an amendment.

The press conference took place on the first day of Senate confirmation hearings of Mr. Kavanaugh. The questionnaire is being delivered or sent to every U.S. Senator.

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