KSU/May 4 and the need for action

May4_KSU

Akron Beacon Journal | Letter to the Editor | Greg Coleridge | May 12, 1990
[Note: Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the tragedy. Much of what was written 30 years ago remains relevant today.]

The inscription on the new May 4 memorial at Kent State University, “inquire, learn, reflect,’ sends an incomplete and troubling message. The means needed to prevent further U.S military intervention abroad and death to dissenting citizens of these policies at home require more than mere inquiry, leaning and reflection. They require action.

Inquiry, learning and reflection alone have never and will never check abuses of power by governments and corporations. Only through actions like marching, lobbying, writing, boycotting, striking, voting and movement building can governments and corporations be democratized and held accountable for their behavior.

Anyone who believes that social change happens on by inquiry, learning and reflection doesn’t know how power in our society works. If we do nothing, power will become ever more concentrated in the hands of government and corporate “leaders.”

Only through doing – actions, deeds or whatever else you may call it – can we recapture the power that is rightly ours. As Thomas Jefferson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

If we don’t act as well as inquire, learn and reflect, two things are certain: More U.S. interventions in Third World nations and violent police actions to quell domestic dissent will take place. And more space and stone will be needed to build more monuments like those honoring the dead in Southeast Asia and Kent State.

Testimony at Cleveland Heights “Democracy Day” Public Hearing

Democracy Day image

Greg Coleridge | January 30, 2020 | Cleveland Heights City Hall

Happy Democracy Day!

Some have expressed a concern that there’s something fundamentally undemocratic or un-American about a constitutional amendment ending money as free speech and corporate constitutional rights.

4 points

1. Limiting free speech “rights” in our society is only a problem if there are no limitations on free speech – which, of course, there are. No one can yell “fire in a crowded theatre,” utter the “7 magic” swear words commercial TV or make threats against the President or other public officials. Concerning political speech, can I demand to speak forever here today at this public hearing or, say, read the Constitution with a megaphone on my own property…. at 3 am? Of course not. We have reasonable limits on speech in our society, as we should. Our free speech rights shouldn’t interfere with other people’s rights.

2. Limiting money in elections is only a problem if we believe money is free speech – which, of course, it isn’t. Money is property. Money can’t “speak.” It’s simply a tool. If money is speech, then speech is money – which means the city of Cleveland Hts should pay me to speak here today. It also means those with the most money have the most speech. That not democratic. One wouldn’t need nearly as much money at all to run a political campaign if We the People, who own the airwaves, directed the electronic media to provide free or low cost radio and TV access to political candidates.

3. Limiting corporate first amendment free speech is only a problem if we believe that corporate entities are persons with Bill of Rights and other inalienable constitutional rights – which, of course, they aren’t.

Ending corporate constitutional rights or corporate “personhood” is a conservative issue. Corporations aren’t mentioned in the constitution. Corporations were created originally through public licenses or charters with publicly defined provisions. Corporate “personhood” was only granted by courts – not by any elected public official of any party at any level of government. Small businesses support getting big money out of politics since they don’t donate relative to major corporations. There’s widespread public support for getting big money out of politics and to reign in corporate power

And corporate constitutional rights go way beyond the corporate hijacking of never intended political free speech rights. They include the 1st Amendment right not to speak – which has shielded corporations from having to disclose consumer information. They include religious rights to deny female employees heath care coverage under the Hobby Lobby decision. They include preventing surprise regulatory searches or inspections to protect workers, communities and the environment under the 4th Amendment. They include preventing regulatory takings that protect communities under the 5th Amendment. They include communities like Cleveland Heights from giving certain preferential treatment to local businesses over outside chain stores as “discriminatory” under the 14th Amendment, which was passed to protect the rights of freed slaves

Corporations need protections and the ability to do business. Constitutional rights are not required. Statutory rights are sufficient or can be expanded by legislatures. We absolutely must protect artificial entities from improper governmental overreach. But they must be balanced with public controls on the ability of those entities to influence our democratic institutions, public officials, elections, communities, and the constitutional rights of human beings.

4. Finally, limiting the prospect to amend the constitution to affirm human rights and the rights to a livable world is only a real problem if we think it’s impossible to achieve – which, of course, it isn’t.

We humans created these bizarre constitutional doctrines – consciously and intentionally. Educating and organizing to build and nonviolent power in democratic movements to overcome corporate rule and the political power of money is all that’s required. It’s a big job but what fundamental alternative is there. What has been done can be and is being undone.

That’s the goal of the Move to Amend Coalition.

Join us!

Vote today, organize for fundamental change tomorrow

People flag

Today is election day. There are important local races everywhere. Please vote!

However, regardless of who’s elected for whatever offices or what ballot issues are passed or defeated, two things won’t change. The political corruption and hijacking of whatever amount of democracy we have/ever had due to corporate constitutional rights and political money in elections defined as “free speech” will remain.

No decree, law or regulation enacted by any elected representative of any political party in any place can alter this. The same goes for any citizen-driven ballot measure in any community or state.

Don’t misunderstand. We need many more responsive public officials and many more educational and symbolic resolutions and ballot measures to build capacity, to educate, to change the culture, and to build an authentic democracy movement. But only by amending the Constitution to abolish ALL corporate constitutional rights (corporate personhood) and “money as speech” can we stop business corporations and the super rich from using these anti-democratic battering rams to do what they want, when they want, wherever they want, to whomever they want — causing further harm to people, places and the planet.

More representative representatives are extremely important at every level of government to push from the “inside” for the #WethePeopleAmendment. But it absolutely must be complemented on the “outside” by a legitimate democracy movement that agitates, educates and organizes to build power — which is what #MovetoAmend is all about.

So please vote today for more representative representatives. But tomorrow join us to agitate, educate and organize to change/amend the foundational rules of the game — the Constitution. It’s the only way to ensure that We the People actually mean All the People.

Working to restore the voices of ordinary people

troy

October 3, 2019

https://www.tdn-net.com/opinion/columns/71364/working-to-restore-the-voices-of-ordinary-people

By Deb Hogshead

It’s neither a conservative nor liberal issue. It’s a constitutional issue, and that’s what Greg Coleridge will talk about when he visits Troy on October 12.

Greg is the national outreach director for the non-partisan, grassroots coalition Move to Amend, and he will explain how a proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution will restore the voices of ordinary people — individuals like you and me — in government decisions.

Large corporate entities (for example, business corporations, associations, labor unions and non-profit organizations) have a louder voice than we do in Washington and Columbus. Through a series of rulings over the course of many years, the Supreme Court made this possible by ruling that corporations are people with constitutional rights — including free speech rights that allow them to spend large amounts of money to influence elections and legislation.

Corporate entities play a critical role in society and warrant privileges and protections, but they should not have a louder voice than we do when it comes to decisions that affect our daily lives — decisions about such things as the quality of our water supply, access to affordable healthcare, disclosure of ingredients in our food, the dumping of out-of-state toxic materials in our communities and protections for locally owned businesses and family-owned farms against chains stores and out-of-state agribusinesses.

A 28th Amendment would shift political power away from corporate entities and back to the people. It would move decisions about corporate privileges and protections from the Supreme Court back to the people, through their elected representatives, where it had been at the beginning of our nation’s history.

There’s already a resolution in Congress with language for a proposed amendment. It’s HJR 48, and it has 64 co-sponsors, including three from the Ohio delegation. HJR 48 makes clear (1) constitutional rights belong to human beings only — not artificial entities such as corporations, associations, unions and nonprofit organizations — and (2) money spent on elections is not a protected form of speech and shall be regulated.

Support for a 28th Amendment has been growing since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v FEC. Let me give you a few examples:

Across the nation, nearly half a million people have signed a petition supporting a 28th Amendment; of those, more than 16,000 are Ohio residents and 1,215 live in Ohio District 8.

Well over 600 communities have passed citizen initiatives or council resolutions in support of a 28th Amendment. In Ohio the number is 24.

Of the 50 states, close to 20 have passed ballot initiatives or resolutions calling for a similar amendment. In Columbus, resolutions calling for a 28th Amendment have been re-introduced in both the House (HR 140) and the Senate (SR 221).

These numbers will grow as more people understand the impact of corporate dominance in our governance.

Please join us from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Lincoln Community Center, 110 Ash St.

How Wealth RULES the World

HowWealth

This is worth the read!

Price’s invaluable work makes clear that not all forms of property are the same: some require fundamental legal protections, others are legally protected only because those of immense wealth and power make us think they should be. If we have any hope of creating authentic democracy (not recreating because we’ve never had at any time) in this country and beyond and protecting the ecosystem from corporate plunder, we must quickly move to the other side of the learning curve about property and how “property rights” have come to trump human and community rights and the rights of human beings to our livable habitat.

“How Wealth Rules the World” is both historical and contemporary; descriptive and prescriptive. It describes how the privileged transformed the best affirmations of the Declaration of Independence into a self-serving Constitution. The Contracts and Commerce Clauses have gutted the ability of local self rule. Numerous Constitutional Amendments that were intended to apply solely to human beings have been expanded to include the the rights of property to ensure that property owners forever expand their power and profit as they plunder abroad and increasingly in our communities.
Local laws promoting justice, sustainability and democracy are legally increasingly preempted by the state, state laws by the federal government and increasingly federal laws by mis-named international “trade” deals that are more about corporate rule than free or fair trade.

The prescription, as presented, is people organizing collectively to protect the most basic place that they readily identify — their community. The growing “community rights” movement that seeks to legalize democracy where they live is an extremely important strategy to not only resist the property right onslaught, but maybe more importantly lift up as a tangible alternative to the centralization and privatization of decision-making that is more real, inclusive and ultimately sustainable.

While no one movement is by itself the solution to the multitude of systemic crises we face, it’s one of the more important ones. Reading the book will help one much more understand how we got into our legal and constitutional fix, and a route out of it.

Response to John Pudner

Just prior to my visit, the Concord Monitor published this opinion piece:

My Turn: N.H. Republicans want limits on political spending
By JOHN PUDNER
https://www.concordmonitor.com/Limiting-power-of-special-interests-25111255

I felt that Pudner did not accurately summarize the content of a majority of the municipal actions. Below is an unpublished submitted letter to the editor. Maybe it was because I was promoting the Concord program.

Oh well.

As a result, the mischaracterization will be believed as fact by those who read his piece. Omission (excluding facts) is just as harmful to the truth as commission (lying).

There is quite of bit of steering going on across the country to reframe town hall meeting actions, council resolutions and ballot initiatives that originally called for ending corporate personhood along with getting big money out of elections to ignore or downplay corporate personhood. Pudner’s piece, sadly, is just one example of this trend.

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To the Editor,

John Pudner presents a compelling case in his April 26 OpEd for the state legislature to pass a bill calling for a Constitutional Amendment to limit political spending and restricting political districts without partisan bias.

The problem is that his evidence at best cherry picks and at worst distorts historical reality.

While true that 82 New Hampshire municipalities have called in recent years for a constitutional amendment concerning political money in elections, it’s incorrect to portray at least a majority of those actions as exclusively addressing money in politics. By my count, 49 of the 82 municipal actions as summarized at http://united4thepeople.org/state-local/ declared that the very same constitutional amendment should also include that constitutional rights apply exclusively to people, not corporations, or similar wording to the effect that corporate constitutional rights (“corporate personhood” for short) should be abolished.

This includes the town of Bradford and several others referenced in Mr. Pudner’s opinion piece.

Many citizens of New Hampshire understand that the hijacking of our democracy/sovereignty transcends political elections to include the hijacking of Constitutional Amendments (including the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th) and other provisions of our Constitution by corporate entities to overturn democratically enacted laws passed by municipalities and states over decades that protect people, places and the planet.

That’s why a once-generational Constitutional Amendment must address not only money in elections, but also corporate personhood.

I’ll present details of this proposal this Saturday, May 4 at 1 pm at Open Democracy, 4 Park St., in Concord.

Respectfully,

Greg Coleridge
Outreach Director, Move to Amend Coalition
http://MoveToAmend.org
(216) 255-2184 (cell – in Ohio)
(916) 318-8040 (office – in Sacramento, CA)

WE THE PEOPLE VS. CORPORATE RULE: IT’S UP TO US!

Greg ColeridgeRights & Democracy (RAD) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) host a community forum with guest speaker Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director of the Move to Amend campaign.

https://wordpress.com/post/createrealdemocracy.wordpress.com/5265

Constitution In A Box

ConstitutionBox

Testimony of Greg Coleridge
Democracy Day Public Hearing, January 17, 2019, Cleveland Heights City Hall

Think of the U.S. Constitution as a box. It symbolizes our democratic space, rights and responsibilities, and limits. It’s a space that allows our public officials and citizens to determine the kind of society – politically, economically, environmentally, socially – that we want. Its size has expanded with each of the 27 Constitutional Amendments, as were passed following democratic people’s movements. The box has also enlarged due to various interpretations of the Constitution by the Supreme Court.

But other Supreme Court interpretations have vastly decreased that democratic space – the box that we call our democracy. Many of those interpretations involved activist Supreme Court decisions that granted corporations with never-intended unalienable constitutional rights – rights that trumped people’s rights. Following each decision by the court, our democratic space contracted – the box became smaller.

Examples:

1819 – Corporate perversion of the Contract Clause
Dartmouth College v. Woodward. A corporate charter is ruled to be a contract and can’t be altered by government. States had less flexibility to use corporate charters as tools to define corporate actions.

1875 – Corporate perversion of the Commerce Clause
Welton v. State of Missouri, 91 U.S. 275. The Supreme Court begins a century long effort to frame every corporations action as a form of “interstate commerce” – which overrules the police power of cities and states to uphold their duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities.

1886 – Corporate perversion of the 14th Amendment
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad
Corporations are in effect granted equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Lee (288 U.S. 517, 1933)
Florida voter passed a law that levied higher taxes on chain stores than on locally owned stores. The Supreme Court overturned the law citing the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and the Interstate Commerce clause.

1906 – Corporate perversion of the 4th Amendment
Hale v. Henkel – Corporations get 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protection. The public no longer has the ability to publicly inspect corporate books and records to ensure accountability.

A 1978 decision prohibited OSHA inspectors from doing surprise inspections.

1922 – Corporate perversion of the 5th Amendment
Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon A regulation is deemed a taking. A corporation subject to certain regulations has to be compensated for lost future profits.

1974 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment –
Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 – Corporations granted the right NOT to speak

They don’t have to reveal information, even if that information is important for public safety (i.e. toxins in food).

1980 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment – Commercial speech
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., v. Public Utilities Comm’n, 447 U.S. 557
Corporate “commercial speech” rights (to increase profits_ preempted the state’s right to protect the welfare of its residents.

1976 – Money equals free speech
Buckley v Valeo. Political money in elections is a form of constitutionally protected First Amendment “free speech.”

1978 – Corporate perversion of the 1st Amendment – political free speech
First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765. U.S. constitutional law case defines the free speech right of corporations for the first time – the right to spend on issue campaigns.

2010 – Citizens United vs FEC
The ability to influence elections via money from wealthy individuals and corporations is expanded.

Our democratic “box” or space isn’t very large. So many people believe that what’s needed is simply to reverse Citizens United, end corporate political free speech and/or end “money is speech.” As you can see, however, our democratic space or box wasn’t nearly as large as it once was and needs to be before these Supreme Court rulings were made. It’s not enough to get big money out of elections before reversing the fact that our ability to self-rule has been inhibited by numerous court decisions.

That’s why Move to Amend calls for not only ending the constitutional doctrine that “political money is equivalent to 1st Amendment-protected “free speech,” but also calls for ending ALL forms of never -intended and at one time never-existing constitutional rights. Only a 28th Amendment that does both will enable government by We the People.

The ‘We the People Amendment’ Aims to Fix the Crisis of Corporate Rule

Because corporations are not people and big problems require bold solutions
Jaypal“The ‘We the People Amendment,’ introduced last month by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), write the authors “is authentically grassroots and populist. It is honest, transparent, visionary and anti-establishment. It’s time we tear down our mental walls and act to expand the democratic space that makes possible this and so many other needed constitutional, political, economic and social structural changes.” (Image: Move to Amend)

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/03/08/we-people-amendment-aims-fix-crisis-corporate-rule

 

‘A drum major for justice’: Lorain city leaders, people of faith share Martin Luther King Jr.’s lessons

mlk program - lorain

http://www.chroniclet.com/Local-News/2019/01/22/Lorain-city-leaders-people-of-faith-share-MLK-39-s-lessons.html?fbclid=IwAR1O8xUNrW6MQtMobAEXAAGVSgSBtIPJFCff3-SC9ssxSdoySHOP7CFHqHQ

Still identified as working for the American Friends Service Committee, despite our program closing almost 2 years ago…