Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Forum/Conference Call/Satire/Jurists on Corporate Personhood


Cliff Arnebeck, Chair, Common Cause, will examine both the legal and social
implications of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in "Citizens United v.
FEC" on Wednesday, April 21st, 7PM, at the Humanist Forum at the
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus. This Supreme Court decision
extended the meaning of free political speech to corporate expenditures in
federal elections and thus granted broad First Amendment rights to corporations
under the corporate personhood doctrine.

The Fourteenth Amendment weighs heavily in the origins of corporate
personhood cases on which "Citizens United" depends, though the amendment’s
original purpose was to grant slaves the status of “person.” The presentation
will explore what the "Citizens United" decision means for social and racial justice,
the history of the Court and corporate rights within America.
Cliff Arnebeck successfully litigated against the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's
claim of a free speech right to spend corporate money to influence Ohio Supreme
Court elections. He will lead a discussion of this revolutionary Supreme Court
case and where actual persons who are real citizens can go from here.

This forum is free and open to all.

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus
93 West Weisheimer Road
Columbus, OH 43214-2544
For further information: (614) 267-4946 (church office)

Conference Call

Abolish Corporate Personhood Conference Call
Proposed dates: Tuesday, May 4 (8 PM) or Saturday, May 8 (10 AM)
Proposed Agenda
Report on national Campaign to Legalize Democracy/Move to Amend gathering
Report on forums/educational events statewide
Name of statewide effort
Local/statewide resolutions
July 4


Murray Hill Inc. | Murray Hill Incorporated is Running for Congress


Halliburton said it is narrowing its choices for vice president.

Jurists on Corporate Personhood

Here’s something I put together...


"A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible," Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in an 1819 case. "It possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it."

Justice Hugo Black dissents in Connecticut General Life Ins. v. Johnson [1938] “I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations.”

William Rehnquist dissents in 1979 from a decision voiding Massachusetts's restriction of corporate political spending on referendums. Since corporations receive special legal and tax benefits, "it might reasonably be concluded that those properties, so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere,"

"Corporations have lots of knowledge about environment, transportation issues, and you are silencing them during the election," Justice Anthony Kennedy

The majority decision of the Court in Citizens United vs FEC declared “...corporate expenditures cannot corrupt.” “Influence over lawmakers is not corruption…and appearance of influence will not undermine public faith in our democracy.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “Judges created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons," she said. "There could be an argument made that that was the court's error to start with...[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "A corporation, after all, is not endowed by its creator with inalienable rights," she said, evoking the Declaration of Independence.

John Paul Stevens in Citizens United dissent:
The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.

In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

… corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”

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