Holy Toledo!


A great victory yesterday in Toledo with voters passing a citizen-driven ballot initiative calling for a Lake Erie Bill of Rights…although I hope good friend Mike Ferner fully recovers from emergency surgery.

This as well as other past initiatives (though in much smaller communities) seeks to establish not that natural living “persons,” but natural living “bodies” have inalienable rights — certainly over corporate “rights.”

Inalienable rights mean basic freedoms, needs and abilities exist via birth. They are not conferred by others, the state or other institutions. States/government can affirm or deny such rights, but they can’t fundamentally prevent their existence. Community institutions, be they public or private, don’t have inalienable rights because they don’t inherently exist but are human created. Applied to natural bodies as I see it, Lake Erie is deserving of far more inherent protection because it came into existence over eons “naturally” vs, say, a human made lake in the middle of a housing development that someone may want to fill in to build on top of.

It’s all new ground, yet very old ground if one subscribes to Native American religious/spiritual tradition concerned the sacredness of all life. How all this legally plays out in our “civilized” world where for centuries we’ve treated nature as little more than a resource for plunder to serve (wo)man — believing that we are atop all life forms — is unknown. However, it’s finally starting to sink in that our “ecos” (greek for house — be it natural, “ECOsystem,” or commercial, “ECOnomy”) are profoundly unsustainable. We need a new consciousness — in a damn hurry. As has often been the case in the past, changed laws (including constitutions) and changed cultures go hand in hand.

It’s the end of the beginning. Onward!

Lake Erie Bill of Rights gets approval from Toledo voters



The Supreme Court that birthrighted corporations could unbirthright citizenship



No, President Trump can’t end birthright citizenship via Presidential decree. But the Supreme Court could if they got disgustingly creative with the 14th Amendment.

It’s happened before.

The Supremes in the late 19th century bought the original argument by corporate attorneys that the world “person” contained in the 14th Amendment was originally penned as “citizen,” but changed to “person” to cover corporations. The 14th Amendment architects all along had intended to apply the 14th’s Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses to not only freed slaves but also to business corporations. This was the argument promoted with a straight face by Roscoe Conkling, counsel for a railroad corporation angling to be shielded with the same constitutional rights as human persons to avoid having to pay higher taxes. Conkling, by the way, was the last person (and maybe the only person) to turn down a Supreme Court appointment after he had been nominated and confirmed. The reason was he wanted to make more money as a corporate attorney.

We the People have ever since been on the short end of the slew of corporate constitutional rights that have hijacked our representative democracy with High Court decisions overturning scores of democratically enacted laws and regulations protecting workers, consumers, communities and the environment.

What’s to stop the anti-justice, extreme right-wing majority on the current Supreme Court from coming up with some wild rationale today to give Trump what he wants?  Who knows what they could come up. Not to give them any ideas, but corporations chartered abroad are in the eyes of US law deemed “alien” corporations. Maybe the Supremes might say children of “illegal aliens” are in fact “aliens” themselves, which are different enough from “persons” to disqualify them from birthright citizenship.

I’d like to think this is completely far fetched and way beyond the reach of the possible. But we are dealing, after all, with an institution that has time and again over 130 years anointed a bunch of legal documents, which is pretty much what corporations are, as possessing the same Bill of Rights, 14th Amendment and other never-intended inalienable constitutional rights as human beings. Take into account the hostility of the majority on the current High Court to cases addressing any number of human rights, and what may seem far fetched is definitely within the realm of possibility.

Of course, what can stop such consideration cold if such an effort become serious is seriously massive organizing and demonstrations in defense of human rights.

That, too, has happened before and helped to deter the worst inclinations of the Supreme Court to protect and promote property rights over human rights.



“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.

# 30 #

A U.S. Constitution with DEMOCRACY IN MIND


The Electoral College fiasco once again (repeat: once again) underlines the strategic need to invest at least some of our activist energies on amending the Constitution. Focusing only on creating justice, peace, and sustainability through elections, laws and regulations (whether local, state and/or federal) isn’t enough if the fundamental constitutional ground rules are rigged against We the People — which they are. Here’s a piece from a few years ago on how to “democratize” our Constitution.

A U.S. Constitution with DEMOCRACY IN MIND

[scroll down to second article]