In recent weeks, the organization Move to Amend and the movement to abolish corporate personhood and corporate rule have gained incredible momentum. On Dec. 6, the first explosive shot in this revolution to legalize democracy was heard around the globe when the Los Angeles City Council passed a powerful resolution rejecting the legal fiction that corporations are people. This moment was very meaningful because Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, and the resolution passed unanimously.
Since that turning point, the movement has reached critical mass and appears unstoppable. On Jan. 5, New York City also passed such a resolution to end corporate personhood. About 50 cities have now passed these resolutions, including Albany, N.Y., Duluth, Minn., Oakland, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., and many more are gearing up to do so.
In addition to city actions, state resolutions to overturn corporate personhood were just introduced in the California and Vermont legislatures. The Montana Supreme Court also recently resurrected a century-old law known as the Corrupt Practices Act, which bans corporate spending in state and local politics. This action obviously cannot conflict with the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which allows corporate “persons” to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, but it delimits the scope of Citizens United within Montana.
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations can now spend unlimited sums of money to buy candidates, elections, laws and the government, yet prior to 1886 it was a felony for corporations to spend any money to influence elections. Additionally, before the odious 1886 Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision that established corporate personhood, there were no corporate lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Now, we have six health care lobbyists for every member of Congress and the most corrupt health care system on the planet.
In addition to corporate “persons” claiming freedom of speech in order to spend fortunes on elections, they also use other Constitutional rights to increase power and profit. Corporations claim Fourth Amendment privacy protections to prevent health, safety and environmental inspections as well as Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Additionally, corporations utilize the 14th Amendment right to equal protection to prevent local communities from creating “discriminatory” laws that favor local business, which were commonplace prior to 1886. This should especially be of concern for the Fayetteville community and small businesses. Once we overturn corporate personhood, Fayetteville can pass laws that appropriately discriminate against certain corporate chains while favoring small local businesses that pay and treat their workers better and keep more currency circulating within the local economy.
Given the incredible national momentum to end corporate personhood, the question becomes “What is keeping Fayetteville from stepping up?” Members from Move to Amend Arkansas and OccupyNWA have contacted elected officials, but as far as I know, there has been no response. Surely, citizens are not being ignored outright?
Jan. 20 is the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United decision, and on this day, the national Move to Amend organization is coordinating a nationwide day of protest called “Occupy the Courts.” More than 80 cities have signed up to participate in this corporate personhood protest, and Fayetteville is currently the only city in Arkansas registered for this event.
At noon, a protest will begin at the Fayetteville Town Center and proceed to the John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Building, which houses a U.S. District Court. The idea to demonstrate at federal courts across the nation is that these courts are the “scene of the crime” when it comes to corporate personhood. Neither the people nor Congress ever voted for this legal fiction. Corporate personhood is an undemocratic court concoction.
After the protest, the plan of action is to begin a coordinated campaign to pass a resolution through the city council, and a brave city councilman has already agreed to introduce it. The city council can rest assured it has public support for the policy, considering a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken after the Citizens United decision found 85 percent of Americans overwhelmingly oppose this ruling. This poll shows conservative and liberal voters are smarter than mainstream media lead us to believe and this is a unifying issue that cuts across party lines.
Once enough cities and states pass these resolutions, we can amend the U.S. Constitution to define that only “natural persons” deserve rights. That moment will mark the beginning of the end for corporate rule and a new era for democracy, progress and human freedom.
By Abel Tomlinson
TFW Contributing Writer