Friday, January 22, 2010

On the Dehumanization of American Corporations

Yesterday’s 5 to 4 ruling by the US Supreme Court is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back of the ridiculous notion that corporations have the same constitutional rights as any living, breathing human citizen of the United States.

By ruling that corporations have been denied their right to free speech by limiting the amount of money that they can donate to a campaign, or denying them the right to produce campaign ads in support of a candidate or political cause, the right wingnuts of the Supreme Court have essentially given the keys of democracy to corporate America.

Hemming and hawing over whether to send $20 to a presidential candidate? Worry no more. Not when Mother Exxon can give a billion dollars to its candidate of choice.

Who can compete with that?

How, I asked myself, has it come to this?

Well basically it began 124 years ago, in its decision in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (the epitome of robber baron corporations at the time). At the time California did not allow corporations to deduct its mortgage debt from the taxable value of their property (like humans were allowed to do).

Where it really gets interesting is that the court did not actually hear the case. It refused. The decision was that the court declined to rule on the case.

Get that? This is a Supreme Court non-decision that started this country on the road to “corporate humanhood.”

Where did the language come from then? How did it get so badly twisted?

The court’s reporter wrote the language.

The court reporter, J. C. Bancroft Davis, was responsible for writing the headnote to the decision. A headnote is essentially a summary statement, outlining the case, main facts, and arguments.

He wrote these words in the decision’s headnote:
“The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.”
If you look for this in the actual opinion, you will be left scratching your head. It’s not there.

But that is the precedence, and that is what Justices Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts based, in part, their decision to let the wolves guard the henhouse.

So what do we do? This cannot stand, you know.

Well obviously “corporate personhood” as a concept must be destroyed.

The Green Party has had a plank in their platform to end “corporate personhood” for years.

This is from their platform, found here:

“Eliminate Corporate Personhood: Legislation or constitutional amendment to end the legal fiction of corporate personhood.”
And yesterday a new organization was launched,, that is circulating a motion to amend the US Constitution. The organization is a coalition of 14 public interest groups across the country. The Motion to Amend, found at their website, says this:

“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.”
Now as far as I can determine, these groups are all from the left wing. But I really have to wonder what the Teabaggers think of this Supreme Court decision. What do the Libertarians think?

The Boston Tea Party, the event that the teabaggers all point to, was essentially a protest against oppressive and monopolistic corporate actions.

Leave no doubt what Republicans think of this, as witnessed by the remarks of Ohio Congressman John Boehner:

“I think the Supreme Court decisions today are a big win for the First Amendment and a step in the right direction. No organization — business, union, whatever — should be limited by the government.”

But my guess is that rather than take a machete to corporate humanity, to “dehumanize” corporations (which are by definition, dehumanized entitites), Democrats will likely resort to fixes in campaign finance rules.

In short, I think we are all so screwed.


Anonymous said...

You choose to omit the fact that the AFL-CIO was a major supporter of the decision.

Is there an organization that has more universally supported Dems,

Are u against them being free to spend as they want?

Marsha said...

Oh dear God in Heaven, we re-write the constitution so that it clearly states one person,one vote guarantee AND ban multi-billion corporations from buying our sovereignty from each person and putting it in the hands of the few with the most money.

I changed my local banking to a credit union a few months ago and hopefully when I sell my home and purchase another one my local credit union will finance it instead of Chase Bank money grubbers of high interest rates on charge cards to help them give obscene bonus to the few. That seems our only chance for Democracy in the United States.

Good luck with the nay sayers in the Republican Party.

Hal said...

No organization, large or small, has a right to drown out the will of the people, Anon.

Siding with the Republicans in this doesn't do much for your credibility. Democracy just took a big hit, Anon. And you want to quibble.

Anonymous said...

Touché, Hal. I agree 100%.

1800s trip thru Tibet said...

please... this comment:
(which are by definition, dehumanized entitites),

should read

-by definition, not human-

please don't even give credence to companies' having ever been human. they are just NOT. The constitution is for THE PEOPLE. End of discussion.