Thursday, March 31, 2011

WE THE PEOPLE doesn't include corporations

I stand ineffably baffled by the recent Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. I already knew of the bogus interpretation of the fourteenth amendment which is a mistake that has established legal precedence - but this recent Supreme Court decision is contrary to what America is all about for me. I just raced through Thom Hartmann's book Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" and How You Can Fight Back (Hartmann, 2010) and will be blogging on it here soon.

BACKGROUND: The legal terminology used in the U.S. system was adopted from our old English roots. In this tradition a distinction exists between a natural and artificial person. A natural person is a human being. An artificial person is a legal entity created by a human being. When defining the rights / actions of a person in legal contexts, it is important to distinguish between a natural person and an artificial person.

FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT: The fourteenth amendment was inserted to protect the rights of the African Americans following emancipation. Strangely, the wording in the fourteenth amendment uses the word person without qualifying whether it meant a natural or artificial person. This was enough leeway to allow the smell to permeate the halls of justice. What a farce.

Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad: An informal statement associated with this Supreme Court case set the precedent for the legal recognition of the corporation as a natural person. The court never formally deliberated nor issued any opinions on this issue but because of a note made by a court reviewer, the legal landscape of our country was grossly distorted in favor of the corporation. This shameful mechanism that established legal precedent is difficult to believe. Arguments have been made suggesting Supreme Court Justice Waite's involvement in the shenanigans were related to the free passes he was given by the railroad companies. It's moments like these that find me bursting with pride to be an American.

Ted Nace's discussion yields further insight into the misinformation provided by then former senator Roscoe Conkling who argued a case similar to Santa Clara three years previous. It is suggested that Conkling's arguments are what prompted Chief Justice Waite's informal comment that all the justices agreed that corporations have Fourteenth Amendment rights. Conkling claimed to have a journal documenting the intent of the committee that wrote the Fourteenth Amendment. Many years later a Stanford University law librarian, Howard Graham, carefully examined the Journal of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and in a paper, published in the Yale Law Journal, debunked Conkling's testimony. A collection of further papers written by Graham was published in 1968 (Graham, 1968).


Graham, Howard Jay; Everyman's Constitution - Historical Essays on The Fourteenth Amendment, The "Conspiracy Theory", and American Constitutionalism, 1968, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Hartmann, Thom; Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" and How You Can Fight Back, 2010, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.

Nace, Ted; Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, 2003, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco.

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