We (the Chat People) came into existence as the brainchild of Stanley Pokras, who offered audience members of Humanity Rising Sessions the opportunity to convene as an “afterparty” chat group. Our “afterparty” format has also been evolving. Now we are consistently joined by some, if not all, of the presenters who move from the “main stage” into our chat dialogue. We have morphed from an informal discussion group into an activist community undertaking several diverse projects. The Deep Dive sessions are about sharing the expertise in the group. They are workshops and seminars covering a diverse range of themes and ideas.
The Norfolk Southern Corporation train derailment and subsequent hazardous chemical release into the air, water and land in and beyond East Palestine, Ohio are the inevitable result of multiple anti-democratic realities in the U.S. Many are interconnected and are the same for the roughly 1000 train derailments per year, most recently in Michigan.
Private ownership of railroads
Norfolk Southern Corporation’s record earnings in 2022 led to huge salaries for its top managers and stock buybacks and dividend payouts benefiting speculators and investors. Necessary investments have not been made in technology upgrades and worker safety as the corporation prioritizes maximizing profits over public safety and sustainable business practices. “Since the North American private rail industry has shown itself incapable of doing the job, it is time for this invaluable transportation infrastructure – like the other transport modes – to be brought under public ownership,” concludes the Railroad Workers United. Interstate highways are publicly owned. Railroads were under federal control during WWI. Railroads in many other nations are publicly owned and, therefore, publicly accountable.
No community rights
Local public officials have few legal tools to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents – especially conditions in any way related to interstate commerce. Communities possess little authority to control material – including trash, chemicals, nuclear waste – coming into or even passing through their jurisdictions by trains or trucks if that material can be defined as “commerce.” The Constitution’s Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) gives power to Congress and the President to “regulate commerce”among the several states.” While states have at least some ability under certain conditions to push back against “commercial material” in their states if they can redefine it as dangerous, localities have no rights. East Palestine officials weren’t even notified the derailed Norfolk Southern train was carrying vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate and other highly toxic chemicals since federal law doesn’t classify those chemicals as “high hazardous.”
Lack of worker power
Strikes are powerful tactics of workers to exert leverage against management. It’s different for railroad workers given the importance of railroads in the nation’s commerce. Unions representing rail workers have been virtually unable to strike since passage of the Railway Labor Act in 1926, which gives the government, specifically the President and Congress, vast powers to force workers to accept alternative means of resolving disputes – including mediation, arbitration and a Presidentially-appointed panel to make a recommendation. Without the legitimate threat to strike, rail workers, including those of Norfolk Southern, lack the power to press for ending dangerous working conditions.
Corporate campaign contributions
Railroad corporations are major political donors/investors to federal and state political races. The industry has poured $85 million into federal candidate campaigns, political parties and outside spending groups since 2002 with Republicans historically being the preferred recipients until recent years. Norfolk Southern – along with BNSF, Union Pacific Corp. and CSX Corp. – are the major industry contributors/investors. Norfolk Southern’s political investments have been $17 million since 1990. At the state level, Norfolk Southern has invested $98,000 into Ohio political races since 2018, with Gov. Mike DeWine (who at first didn’t call for federal assistance following the E. Palestine disaster since he didn’t see a problem) being the largest recipient. Another recipient, Rep. Bill Seitz, supports his home city of Cincinnati selling its publicly owned rail line to none other than Norfolk Southern. At the very least, political campaign contributions buy access to public officials; at worst, buys favors.
The railroad industry invested $24.6 million to employee 265 reported lobbyists to influence the federal government in 2022. Norfolk Southern’s portion was $1.8 million. The combination of corporate campaign contributions and lobbying by Norfolk Southern and other railroads results in legislation and regulations favorable to the industry, harmful to workers and threatening to communities. Rail lobbyists and $6 million from the rail industry to GOP campaigns in 2017, backed by President Trump, were effective in reversing requirements that rail cars carrying hazardous flammable materials install modern electronic braking systems to replace Civil War-era systems. Lobbyists have pressed for fewer workers on trains, longer and heavier trains, and reduced fines for penalties – as well as against paid sick leave for workers and having to define trains carrying hazardous chemicals like the Norfolk Southern that derailed in East Palestine as “high hazard,” which would increase additional safety requirements, costs and public notification. Lobbyists are already working to prevent “burdensome regulations” that, no doubt, include provisions of the proposed Rail Safety Act of 2023, supported by Democratic and Republican Senators in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Supreme Court decisions
Courts have granted corporate entities with a long list of constitutional rights which were intended exclusively to human beings. This includes corporate entities having the “right” to contribute to political campaigns. This has permitted all corporations, including Norfolk Southern, to corrupt the political process favorable to their interests, such as the previously mentioned laws and regulations profitable for railroads, but harmful to persons without the means to spend large sums of money to have their voices heard, communities helped and environment protected. Supreme Court-granted corporate Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights prevent surprise inspections of corporate property intended to protect workers and communities.
Ineffective and/or captured regulatory agencies
Railroads were the first federal government regulated corporations with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 in response to widespread public rage over railroad abuses and malpractices. The railroads preferred government regulation over direct public ownership, which was a growing public call over many natural monopolies. Railroad executives felt they could have influence over agencies through appointments of regulators and limiting the scope of their oversight, which has proven true. Public safety inspections are also limited by regulatory agency funding, which impacts technology needs and human inspectors. The Federal Railroad Administration, the major railroad regulatory agency, has only 400 inspectors to inspect the nation’s rail system covering 140,000 miles. This has forced the FHA to increasingly allow railroad corporations to inspect their own trains, tracks and signals, an increasingly common practice across all regulatory agencies. The EPA recently announced that it’s requiring Norfolk Southern to directly test for dioxins in East Palestine. Where’s the public accountability when, in effect, an entity charged with a crime gets to be the prosecutor, judge and jury?
Criminalization of protest
The response by the state, supported by corporations, to public protests and organizing responding to corporate assaults has been to pass laws criminalizing such activities to punish and smear individuals who exercise their right to peaceful assembly. Forty-five states have considered 265 bills, 39 of which have already passed in 20 states since 2017. Penalties of felonies serve as a deterrent to individuals to attend public events where they might be arrested and plant the message that those who protest must be extremists. This mindset is reflected in the reaction by federal and Ohio “law enforcement” agencies to the recent visit of whistleblower Erin Brockovich to East Palestine. A report by the agencies “assesses that special interest extremist groups will continue to call for changes in governmental policy, which may lead to protests in/around East Palestine and/or at the Statehouse in Columbus.” Clearly, even a public meeting that Brockovich was planning was deemed as dangerous.
The East Palestine tragedy, while dramatic and horrific in its hardships to those who live nearby, wildlife and the environment, is sadly merely a symptom of current political realities. Essential is fundamental systemic change to address not only all the above mentioned conditions, but also to structurally increase the power of people to have legitimate influence over decisions affecting their lives, communities and beyond.
Enacting the We the People Amendment, HJR48 that would abolish all corporate constitutional rights and political money defined as free speech, is urgent. But fundamental self-governance goes beyond the amendment. Independent people’s movements led by individuals who’ve been historically treated unjustly is a prerequisite for how to get real democracy on track – for the very first time.
Greg Coleridge is Co-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 The Depth of Change: Selected Writings and Remarks on Social Change (2022); 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 (https://realdemocracyhistorycalendar.wordpress.com/) and Monetary History Calendar (https://monetarycalendar.wordpress.com/) He is a Board Member of the Alliance for Just Money (AFJM). He previously served an elected term on the national governing board of Common Cause and was a Principal with the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD).
“Abolishing corporate constitutional rights,” writes Coleridge, “shifts back from the judicial to the legislative arena the public ability to define corporate actions to ensure that the health, safety, and welfare of people, communities and the natural world are prioritized.” (Photo: Sean Gladwell / iStock via Getty Images)
Abolishing all corporate constitutional rights by enacting the We the People Amendment (HJR48), soon to be introduced again by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, is the only strategy to make corporations authentically democratically accountable.
A subcommittee of the full House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Two panels discussed the “politicization of the FBI and DOJ and attacks on American civil liberties.” It rehashed old grievances about how Trump and others were treated by the two agencies over the last few years.
If exposing and ending “weaponization of the government” is the target, then the Judiciary Committee should take aim at the single biggest culprit: corporations. This investigation would be enlightening since the corporate “weaponization” or hijacking of the government has been so blatant, widespread and persistent for more than a century.
Most corporations in the U.S. were originally chartered or licenced at the state level by legislatures one-at-a-time. Corporate charters stipulated specific conditions to ensure that corporations served the common good. Charters were routinely revoked when corporations acted “ultra vires,” that is. beyond their defined authority. None of those conditions included bestowing inherent rights to corporations to dominate virtually every aspect of society and government as they do today.
Corporations have amassed enormous political and economic power by escaping state legislative authority and public accountability by “weaponizing” four sectors of government.
1. Corporations “weaponize” states against one another.
Corporate agents sought federal laws to preempt state laws and state laws to preempt local laws limiting corporate powers. The federal Sherman Antitrust Act, for example, was a tepid federal response to strong laws enacted in over 20 states to prevent corporate monopolies and, in some cases, calls for public ownership. The pro-corporate Senator John Sherman warned that Congress “must heed [the public’s] appeal or be ready for the socialist, the communist, and the nihilist.” Sherman is still used to preempt state laws. Meanwhile, local laws protecting residents from guns, fracking, minimum wage and many other local concerns passed by municipal councils have been preempted by state laws.
3. Corporations “weaponize” regulatory agencies.
Corporations supported the creation of “regulatory agencies” as many states sought public ownership over several types of companies – including utilities and transportation. These agencies regulated vs prohibited harms and insulated companies from direct legislative oversight and public pressure and mobilization. Moreover, companies advocate for the appointment by executives (i.e. Presidents and Governors) of corporate-friendly regulators.
4. Corporations “weaponize” the courts.
The ultimate escape of public control over corporations was granting “constitutional rights” to corporations. Though there’s no mention of corporate entities in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court proclaimed over the course of a century that a corporation is a person with First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment protections – rights that go well beyond corporate First Amendment free speech “rights” to contribute money in elections. This makes public accountability impossible over corporate entities. Corporate constitutional rights are the impenetrable shield against efforts to assert human rights and the right to a livable world over never-intended “corporate rights.”
Abolishing all corporate constitutional rights by enacting the We the People Amendment (HJR48), soon to be introduced again by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, is the only strategy to make corporations authentically democratically accountable.
This requires building a people’s movement. Abolishing corporate constitutional rights shifts back from the judicial to the legislative arena the public ability to define corporate actions to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of people, communities and the natural world are prioritized. Ending all the other ways corporations have “weaponized government” to consolidate political and economic power becomes much easier once corporations are disarmed of all constitutional rights.
If Congress isn’t going to expose the corporate “weaponization of government,” then it’s up to us to not only do so, but to end it.
I’m Greg Coleridge, Co-Director of the national Move to Amend campaign.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are going.”
If we’re honest with ourselves about the direction of what little democracy we have, which truthfully was never as much as it should have been from day one in our country, then where we’re headed is a monocracy, plutocracy and corpocracy – not to mention an autocracy – all rolled into one.
There is no single cause for this, but major factors are the more than century-long series of bizarre Supreme Court decisions anoinging corporations with constitutional rights – corporate personhood some call it – and decades-long series of bizarre Supreme Court decisions anointing money in elections as equal to First Amendment-protected “free speech.”
Abolishing corporate constitutional rights and money as speech are the two central components of HJR48, the We the People Amendment – now supported by 95 U.S. Representatives – including Tim Ryan – more than 650 organizations and over 700 communities that enacted either a municipal resolution or passed, like Kent, a citizen-driven ballot initiative.
The leadership of this national effort has come from the bottom-up – from people like Bill Wilen, Lee Brooker and others in Kent who educated, advocated and organized for passing the initiative calling on Congress to pass HJR48.
But people like you, elected officials – both individually and collectively – have an extremely important role – if you so choose – to complement this effort.
Here are six actions you can take to move this movement forward:
Publicly call out any “pay-to-play” instances – in which developers or others who want something in Kent donate (or, more accurately, invest) to political campaigns of one or more councilpersons just before or after they receive what they want.
Don’t be intimidated to pass ordinances that protect the health, safety or welfare of Kent residents by corporate threats that they will preempt the law by going to the state legislature or to court claiming their corporate constitutional so-called “rights” have been violated.
Encourage council colleagues you know in Ravenna and/or any other communities in Portage County and beyond to join the hundreds of other communities that have passed resolutions calling for abolishing money as free speech and corporate constitutional rights. Sample resolutions in support of the We the People Amendment are at https://www.movetoamend.org/pass-local-resolution
Introduce a resolution supporting passage of HJR48 to your County political party.
If Tim Ryan wins his race, pass a resolution encouraging him to introduce HJR48 in the U.S. Senate – since he already cosponsored the measure in the House.
Finally, personally, don’t accept large individual contributions and corporate PAC funds for your political campaigns. I realize that under the current political reality, it takes an increasing amount of money to run and the threat of so-called “independent” funding from Super PACs and dark money groups is real, but commit to working at collecting smaller donations from more individuals as much as you can – while at the same time calling for passing HJR48.
It’s time to abolish the corrupting influence of big money in elections – which is legalized bribery – and corporate rule. It’s a major way to change direction before we end up where we are headed.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or ways I can assist any of you individually or Kent City Council collectively.
Testimony of Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director, Move to Amend
March 4, 2021
Happy Democracy Day!
There is a growing movement in this country to create authentic democracy — for the very first time. The U.S. Constitution prevented all but white, male, property-owners from having inalienable rights. Women, people of color, indentured servants and others organized themselves into groups and powerful movements to change laws and pass Constitutional Amendments to gain basic rights. Those efforts continue.
At the same time, there’s been and continues to be a parallel track by the super rich and corporate entities to create and expand their power and rights. Their goal is not just to acquire rights to protect themselves, but to have fundamental power over the rest of us and our communities — to govern, to rule,
The super rich and corporate entities have hijacked Constitutional Amendments. Political money has been defined by the Supreme Court as First Amendment-protected free speech. Many of the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment, intended to apply solely to human persons, have been expanded to apply to corporate entities
The results have been devastating to people, places, the planet…and to democracy.
The public opposes tax breaks for the super rich, bank bailouts and subsidies for fossil fuel corporations while at same time supports reasonable gun control, sustainable energy, healthy food, affordable and comprehensive health care, better education, living wages and sweeping pandemic relief that helps people and provides Paycheck Protection Program funding exclusively to small businesses, not mega corporations. Yet, political influence by large corporations prevents these and many other popular programs from being enacted. The source of this corporate political influence was the Supreme Court invention of so-called First Amendment corporate free speech rights to spend or invest money in elections.
But the political influence of corporations transcends money in politics.
Communities and states have sought unsuccessfully to demand that harmful ingredients or chemicals, like Monsanto’s glyphosate, be labeled on commercial packaging in the name of food safety. Courts have said such laws violate a corporation’s First Amendment right not to speak.
States have created many regulations to protect workers, the environment and consumers requiring surprise inspection of businesses. Such inspections have been overturned in court as violations of a corporation’s Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights.
There’s a movement to protect the environment from cataclysmic climate destruction by leaving oil and coal in the ground. But the right to protect the planet if such laws were passed could be challenged, as similar efforts have in the past, in court as a violation of corporate Fifth Amendment taking rights — meaning corporations would have to be compensated for tens of trillions of dollars of lost corporate profits.
Local communities, just like Chagrin Falls, that prides itself on small businesses are unable to provide special benefits that are not equally offered to out-of-town chain stores. To do so would be, as has been decided multiple times in court, unconstitutionally “discriminatory” against chain stores under the Fourteenth Amendment (which was enacted to protect freed slaves) — yet another amendment corporations have hijacked to expand their rights at the expense of the rights of people and communities.
Corporations don’t need constitutional rights to conduct business. Laws passed by legislative bodies created all the tools they need.
We will never, ever have authentic political democracy unless we end the twin constitutional doctrines of political money equaling free speech and corporate rights. Money is property, not speech. Only people are persons, not artificial legal entities like corporate entities.
Chagrin Falls voters understood this when voting 2:1 in 2014 for a ballot initiative supporting these changes — one of 705 communities that have taken a stand nationally along with more than 600 organizations in support of Move to Amend’s We the People Amendment.
Thanks to Chagrin Falls voters for being part of this broadening and deepening democracy movement.
Greg Coleridge | Outreach Director, National Move to Amend Coalition
Happy Democracy Day!
Democracy is founded on the premise that the People are the source of all power.
‘We the People’ created corporations as tools to serve us, not themselves. As sovereigns we can regulate and restrict corporations as we see fit. The Supreme Court’s invention of constitutional rights for corporations has turned this fundamental principle on its head.
For the first century-plus of our history, corporations were strictly controlled and had no constitutional rights. Corporations couldn’t even exist unless state legislation—called charters—created them.
Statutes created corporations to give them the powers needed to conduct business for the peoples’ benefit. Logic dictates that corporations have only those rights granted them by statute. Statutes cannot create constitutional rights.
Corporations do not need constitutional rights to conduct business. Logically, an entity created to serve people should not have the same constitutional rights as those people it is supposed to serve.
Corporations aren’t mentioned in the Constitution. So the framers didn’t think they should have constitutional rights. But, starting with the 1819 Dartmouth case, the Supreme Court inserted corporations into the Constitution and progressively invented rights for corporations, anointing them with many of the same constitutional rights as natural persons like you and me.
Logic, history or law does not support the corporate constitutional rights doctrine created by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has never explained why artificial entities like corporations should have the same constitutional rights as natural persons when corporations do not need constitutional rights to do business and have special advantages that individual persons do not have, e.g. perpetual life and limited liability.
This court-invented constitutional doctrine has allowed corporations to abuse and harm the human beings they are supposed to serve. In addition to using their so-called free speech rights under the First Amendment to buy politicians, corporations have used other constitutional rights such as the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to undemocratically impose pollution, water contamination, environmental destruction, harm to workers and other assaults on unwilling local communities and individuals.
Increasingly, state legislatures and even municipal governments – such as Mayors and City Councils – have seen their police powers to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents erode as corporate entities have successfully overturned locally passed ordinances on any number of consumer, economic, worker or environmental concerns by preemption or by going to court claiming that those laws “discriminate” under the 14th Amendment or are an infringement of trade under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Hundreds of such laws have been invalidated across the country over decades, creating a chilling effect on local officials since increasingly corporate rights trump local rights. Given this trend, one might reasonably ask why local governments should even exist if their only purpose may at some point be limited to determine stop sign placements, floral arrangements in planters on main street or the date of next summer’s apple festival. Decisions of real importance are increasingly hijacked. Increasing corporate constitutional rights decreases the need and taxpayer expense for mayors, councilpersons and local governments everywhere – including in Brecksville. The authority of local public officials – not to mention we the People in general — are under fundamental assault.
This is why passage of a 28th Constitutional Amendment, the We the People Amendment (HJR 48), is so important, which will end all never-intended, inalienable constitutional rights for corporate entities (corporate personhood) and the equally bizarre constitutional doctrine that political money in elections is equal to free speech —both doctrines of which were expanded in the 2010 Citizens United decision
We wouldn’t be here this evening if not for the tireless efforts of Brecksville residents to place the issue of ending big money in politics and corporate rule on the ballot in 2012 and to create this annual public hearing — as well as for Brecksville voters to pass this initiative – one of 705 communities across the country that have take a stand.
Thank you Brecksville citizens for being part of this growing transparitsan democracy movement.
Groups Call for More Democratic Constitution on Anniversary of Bill of Rights Ratification
On the anniversary of the 1791 ratification of the Bill of Rights, two pro-democracy human rights groups, Democracy Unlimited and Move to Amend, are calling for mass public participation to envision a more just and democratic U.S. Constitution. Toward a People’s Constitution is a website [http://www.PeoplesConstitution.US] launched last week to provide an inclusive and participatory arena for a respectful, vigorous and strategic discussion to create an authentic people’s constitution.
The effort is based on the growing realization that many of the current major crises our nation is facing—inadequacy of providing basic human needs, the contested 2020 election, corporate rule, climate and ecological destruction, declining public trust in government, growing illegitimacy of the Supreme Court and lack of basic rights still for women, people of color, the LGTBQ community and others—all are rooted in a flawed Constitution and multiple judicial decisions.
“It’s time for people to engage with one another to envision a constitution that goes way beyond the original Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution affirming basic political and religious rights to individuals in the new United States of America, and beyond the other 17 Amendments added since,” stated Jessica Munger, Program Director of Move to Amend. “A more just and democratic constitution must go even farther than the call of President Roosevelt for a Second Bill of Rights at the end of WW II to provide the rights to housing, income, food, health care and other basic human needs to also include rights to authentic political, racial and gender equality and rights that protect our natural world from ecological collapse,” said Munger.
Toward a People’s Constitution seeks to dispel the dominant cultural mindset that the Constitution is comparable to a sacred text and considered, for the most part, indisputable and beyond the right of We the People to seriously examine.
The project will include ongoing speakers and panels, share information from past and present efforts in the U.S. and around the world on constitutional renewal, and invite and engage participants to share and discuss ideas and proposals for ways to make the Constitution more relevant, to democratically, justly and sustainably address the systemic problems of our nation and world.
The project will also build upon the several People’s Movement Assemblies organized by participants of both sponsoring groups over the years, including a recent Peoples Movement Assembly where more than 100 people collectively discussed and envisioned what a currently relevant constitution might contain.
This process is open to all individuals and organizational representatives who feel that self-governing people should take charge of their conditions. For more information and to join this process, go to http://www.PeoplesConstitution.US.
Greg Coleridge (he/him), Outreach Director, Move to Amend Coalition, MoveToAmend.org; (216) 255-2184 (cell – in Ohio); (916) 318-8040 (office – in Sacramento, Calif.)
End Corporate Rule. Legalize Democracy. Move to Amend.
[Note: We would only add this—while this newspaper enjoys, and will never relinquish, its freedom to indulge in friviloty and foolishness, at heart we are deadly serious; never more so than on this topic. Careful readers may have noted recently a tendency of ours to explore a topic, excoriate its inherent idiocy, then conclude by noting that such a result is inevitable under the terms of our Constitution. It is heartening to see that someone is tackling this taboo topic head-on. – The Ed.]
Greg Coleridge | Outreach Director, National Move to Amend Coalition
Happy Democracy Day!
We wouldn’t be here this afternoon if not for the tireless efforts of Toledo and other nearby 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 Toledo voters to pass this initiative.
Much of today’s testimony focuses on the many harms of the legalization of big money spent/invested in elections by the super rich and corporate entities claiming First Amendment free speech rights to spend or invest money in elections. 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 should not ignore other disasters to people, communities and the planet caused by other court-invented constitutonal rights of corporations, which must be included when we talk about ending all corporate constitutional rights.
A few examples
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.
Just 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 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.
These examples merely summarize the breadth and depth of the corporate hijacking of authentic self-governance for more than a century — way beyond, way beyond mere corporate political First Amendment free speech rights.
That’s why enacting the We the People Amendment (HJR 48), co-sponsored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, is so important. It would end both the constitutional doctrines that money spent in elections is free speech and that corporate entities possess unalienable constitutional rights.
I invite Toledo 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 to join the 680 other communities, including 25 in Ohio, that have already taken action, if not to place a measure directly on the ballot for local voter consideration.