Friday, January 29, 2010

Thank you Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court Bldg.
Washington, DC 20543

Dear United States Supreme Court,

Thank you.

In particular, the majority of you who voted in Citizens United vs FEC to grant corporations greater First Amendment rights to influence elections.

Thank you The Roberts Court:

John Roberts Jr.
Anthony Kennedy
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito

I thank you both personally and professionally.

You have now made my life easier.

You see, for the past dozen years, a relative handful of people across the country have been ranting and raving about the dangers of corporate “personhood.”

We’ve discussed how corporations are treated just like human beings under the US Constitution. Protected, shielded and insulated by the Bill of Rights. Possessing 1st, 4th, 5th and other Bill of Rights Amendment protections, as well as 14th Amendment due process and equal protection rights.

We’ve educated, advocated and organized.

We’ve helped fellow citizens understand how such absurd constitutional doctrines are destructive to anything remotely resembling democracy, self-governance and self-determination.

We’ve worked to show how the presence of corporate constitutional rights was connected to an absence of legitimate elections, affordable health care, a clean environment, good jobs, and all the other issues average people care about.

And we’ve challenged the legitimacy of private corporate cash in public elections.

Yet for most of the time, our efforts have come across as merely provocative, quaint, historical, or interesting.

Not relevant. Not current. Not appropriate.

Not anymore. Thanks to you. Thanks to this decision.

Thanks to your blatant, revolting and in your face pronouncement that corporations are virtually identical to human beings when it comes to First Amendment political free speech. Nine unelected appointed for lifers extending in perpetuity political free speech life to entities that exist solely through legal charters imposed by the government of We The People.

The average human person with any amount of common sense knows that corporations have no body and no mind. They are not persons. They should have no speech.

But they have more now. Thanks to you.

It’s quite true that corporations using their previously granted constitutional rights ALREADY exert governing roles via their control of production, technology, jobs, capital, trade, and property. Investment and production decisions that shape our communities and rule our lives are ALREADY made in boardrooms, regulatory agencies, and courtrooms. In the public realm, corporations ALREADY dominate elections, write and pass laws, educate our judges in jurisprudence, and mold public policy debate. And they ALREADY exert influence on law schools, professors and students, on our educational system, and on our very culture.

But it’s not been all that clear or obvious. It’s never been a strong enough reality to supplant the myths and lore of democracy.

Not until now. Thanks to you.

You are following, in fact, a hallowed tradition.

A century and half ago those who came before you made what may be a comparable decision. It was called Dred Scott vs Sanford.

That’s the Supreme Court decision that upheld Article 4, Section 2 of the United States Constitution declaring slaves weren’t human beings but property.

Dred Scott affirmed that horror. To the anger, furor and outrage of people everywhere. It led not to further regulating slavery or creating a Slavery Protection Agency but to an abolition movement to do away with slavery forever.

Citizens United will do the same today.

It already is. It will continue. It will expand.

More than 40,000 human persons have just in the first few days signed a petition at calling to amend the US Constitution. To abolish corporate personhood -- corporate constitutional rights. To legalize democracy.

Just like Dred Scott did 150 years ago.

Your decision will launch a movement that will eventually and inevitably amend the Constitution. To expand the rights of people. And abolish injustice

Slavery 150 years ago. Corporate constitutional rights today.

Thank you for making educating and mobilizing citizens everywhere into a social movement so much easier.

Not in the short run though.

Corporations will use their treasury funds now to directly fund political campaigns for and against candidates and to influence the public. This will make the job of those dedicated to justice, peace and self-governance much more difficult

But it will also make it easier to see the root of the problem. Not this single law or that particular regulation. Not this office holder or that political party. But the constitutional edict of corporate constitutional rights.

Making the long run effort to getting at the heart of the problem easier to recognize and solve. By abolishing in all its forms corporate personhood. By legalizing democracy. By humanizing our society. To protect people and nature.

Thank you Supreme Court.


Greg Coleridge
Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Member, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy collective

1 comment:

  1. Add my name, Mark R. Kissinger, to the signers of this letter.