Radio interview

WTAM
May 19, 2019

First hour: Greg Coleridge and Sally Hanley of “Move to “Amend” a national organization- that seeks to put an amendment in front of congress.

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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.

Curing the cancer of the body politic

WTP Amendment

OpEdNews Op Eds, February 6, 2019
https://www.opednews.com/articles/Curing-the-cancer-of-the-b-by-Greg-Coleridge-Activist_Anti-democratic_Awareness_Cancer-190206-98.html

Monday was World Cancer Day. Its aim is to unite people around the world to raise awareness and education about the disease and to pressure individuals and governments to take action.

We all know individuals who have or have had cancer – loves ones, friends, maybe ourselves. A friend of mine died from cancer over the weekend. My father died 30 years ago from brain cancer, contracted from who knows where. Maybe it was from inhaling toxic chemicals when he worked at the BF Goodrich Company in Akron – which may have also resulted in my birth defect. Goodrich used many toxic chemicals in the manufacture of rubber products and was one of the first corporations to develop vinyl chloride, a known cancer-causing chemical.

The rapid growth of abnormal cells that lead to malignant cancerous tumors triggered by exposure to chemicals, radiation or viruses can be devastating, Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy are among the treatments, which have become more effective over time. Early detection is critical, especially to address tumors that spread, or metastasize, throughout the body, which are fatal.

Elimination of an entire malignant tumor is the ultimate quest of any treatment. No legitimate doctor would only, for example, remove some cancer cells when others could just as easily be cut out since remaining cells will simply divide and spread. Of course, sometimes if the cancer has spread too widely and deeply with no chance of its removal without causing great harm to the body, treatments are simply to extend life for a short period.

In no way to minimize the bodily effects of cancer – physically, mentally and emotionally – but cancer exists in other forms in our society, and is just as deadly if not aggressively treated.

The increasing power of corporations which is causing ever-greater harms to every aspect in our nation is among the destructive forms of cancer to our body politic – to the people of our country who collectively constitute the ultimate rulers – at least on paper as reflected by the first three words of the our Constitution’s Preamble: We the People.

This increasing power or rule by corporations over people, policies and the fate of a livable planet itself originates from court decisions by activist Supreme Court Justices who decreed over that last two centuries that corporations should be anointed with the same unalienable constitutional rights as human beings. Rights intended exclusively for human persons under the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment (which was written to guarantee equal protection for freed black slaves) have been hijacked by corporations to apply to them. The Constitution’s Contracts and Commerce Clauses have been perverted too – abused and misused to escape prior abilities of people and our elected representatives to protect our own and the health, safety and welfare of our communities.

Human rights have been trumped by corporate rights. The cancer this has caused to our society has not been limited to one part of the body politic, but rather has metastasized throughout our society. Corporate rule in politics, economics and culture extends to media, music and money; to elections, education and employment; to transportation, trade and telecommunications; to food, fashion and faith, to wellness, work and water; to information, incarceration and immigration; and, among many other arenas, to climate, campaigns and, yes, even to cancer.

Corporate constitutional rights is destroying healthy, human, self-governing individual and community cells. Our democratic republic is on life support.

Just as World Cancer Day raises awareness of cancer – its early symptoms, its impact and its treatment – and advocates for individual and governmental action, the same applies to the political cancer of corporate constitutional rights.

We must be aware of its forms and the harms they cause to the body politic. It’s not enough to simply point out the anti-democratic corporate perversion of First Amendment free speech rights and the resulting harmful influences from the subsequent flood of corporate money into elections. We must be aware of all of the perversions and subsequent harms, many of which were were pointed out long ago in Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD).

Relatedly, it’s not enough to simply take action seeking treatment to a sliver of the corporate constitutional rights tumor that is threatening what remains of our democratic republic (to the extent “democracy for all” ever existed in the first place).

Ending corporate constitutional rights must be complete. The grassroots movement Move to Amendis organizing for a constitutional amendment to end all never intended constitutional rights. Its We the People Amendmentwill soon be reintroduced in the new session of the U.S House of Representatives. Hundreds of organization support this effort and hundreds of communities have enacted municipal resolutions or ordinances following citizen-driven ballot initiative campaigns.

Every other group addressing this concern are only taking a scalpel to a sliver of the corporate constitutional rights tumor. Doctors who cut out, irradiate or treat in other ways only a portion of a malignant cancerous tumor only guarantees its later reappearance, which can be more widespread. “Doctors of democracy” can’t afford to make this fatal constitutional amendment mistake.

Ending some corporate constitutional rights (i.e. First Amendment “free speech”) as proposed by other amendment solutions such as HJR2, seems on the surface to be easier, but to do anything less than complete abolition — as Move to Amend is working for — will result in an ultimately terminal patient. That’s where our democratic republic is rapidly headed unless we extend our awareness and action of cancer from the physical form to the political.

The 2019 theme of World Cancer Day is “I am an advocate and I will speak up.” This should apply to ending all corporate constitutional rights.

Be an advocate.

Speak up.

And act up with Move to Amend.

Greg Coleridge is Outreach Director of Move to Amend. He previously worked for more than three decades with the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio where he educated, advocated and organized on a range of justice, peace, environmental and democracy issues — including helping coordinate Move to Amend activities in the Buckeye state. 

He is the author of Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and Challenges to Freedom in the Future (2003), writer of the documentary CorpOrNation: The Story of Citizens and Corporations in Ohio (2003), and contributed several articles to the anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy – A Book of History and Strategy (2001). He currently maintains and distributes via email a weekly REAL Democracy History Calendar and Monetary History Calendar. 

Greg is a Principal with the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) and Advisor to the American Monetary Institute (AMI). He previously served an elected term on the national governing board of Common Cause.

MLK day Lorain County conference calls for resolution of international crises

By Jordana Joy jjoy@morningjournal.com @MJ_JordanaJoy on Twitter
Lorain Morning Journal

In honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several northeast Ohio religious and community leaders conducted a news conference presented by the Interfaith Ministries of Lorain County and the International Council for Urban Peace, Justice and Empowerment on local and international crises plaguing communities.

The main topic of discussion at the Lorain Public Library System South Lorain Branch2121 Homewood Drive, was centered around the humanitarian crises in Yemen and on the U.S.-Mexico border as a way to honor the universal justice that King spoke of near the end of his life.

“We keep him in a dream, we keep Dr. King in a dream,” said Imam Paul Hasan, head of the Interfaith Ministries of Lorain County in reference to a speech King gave on economic justice. “Dr. King was talking about things that they really didn’t want him to talk about, so soon as Dr. King began to talk about the universality of the struggle, then Dr. King became a problem.

“So what we wanted to do today was talk about the universal connection between Americans and our struggle in this country, with young African Americans who are self-destructing in our community. There’s no justice in our particular community.”

Panelists called for the end of U.S. financial and military support of Saudi Arabia in an effort to end the war against Yemen.

Additionally, panelists called for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico borders to be reunited with their families and “should not be political pawns and treated inhumanely,” the release said.

Panelist Mark Jaffee, who is religious director of Agudath B’nai Israel Synagogue1715 Meister Road in Lorain, said the United States also feared security issues when Jewish Europeans sought refuge before and during the Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s.

By the time the federal government obtained proof of genocide, millions already had been killed, Jaffee said.

“Talking bigotry, talking about extreme paranoia, it’s like I’m talking about today,” he said.

Panelist Greg Coleridge, of Move to Amend, said humanitarian crises stem from moral, democratic, economic, environmental and militarized crises as well.

“(Climate change) is getting worse and much more migration is taking place and how are we gonna respond?” Coleridge asked. “Right now, we’re responding militarily by the end of a gun and through tear gas being directed at men, women and children.”

In finding ways to look onward and upward locally, Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr. said speaking up about things that matter, like education.

“If we think about things in our world that matter today, there’s nothing really no more pressing of an issue than two things: the health and well-being of people and the education and outcomes of those in our lives,” Hardy said.

However, with state reports stating that only 1.1 percent of Lorain Schools graduates are adequately prepared for a career or college after graduation, Hardy said there is plenty that needs to be done.