more articles like this
Corporations as People Report
updated: Jul 08, 2013, 2:04 PM
By Robert Bernstein
Are corporations people? Is money a form of speech? The Supreme Court has ruled
"yes" on both counts, most notably in the "Citizens United" case of 2010. Yet
most Americans find these ideas absurd if not appalling.
The result of the ruling has been hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising
by corporations to advance everything from climate change denial to corporate-
On Sunday afternoon, the Faulkner Gallery was filled to capacity as people
learned about the case, the history and what is to be done. Our State Senator
Hannah-Beth Jackson was one speaker and the main speaker was David Cobb,
National Spokesperson for "Move to Amend" which seeks to overturn Citizens
My Web Page
Senator Jackson reminded us that starting in 1949 the Fairness Doctrine
guaranteed balanced access to broadcast media for a spectrum of views. Reagan
eliminated this requirement. Which meant that more money could buy more access
for one side with no guarantee of any access for other sides at all.
David Cobb spoke with the cool logic and facts of a lawyer combined with the
passion of a preacher's grandson. Starting with the history of corporations in
Each of the 13 original colonies was a corporation. So was the East India Tea
Company that sparked the famous Boston Tea Party. Capturing and enslaving
African people was a corporate venture. Jefferson railed against the
"aristocracy of our moneyed corporations".
As a result, early American corporations had to serve a specific public
interest. Their creation required legislative approval similar to passing a bill
into law. Their "limited liability" could only last seven years. If they acted
outside the stated public interest, even legally, their corporate charter could
"Name one Fortune 500 Company today that could exist by that rule," Cobb
challenged the audience.
In contrast, current corporations are formed by filling in a form and paying a
fee and they go on forever.
Cobb reminded the audience of the power held by the people if they remember to
use it. The Constitution begins "We The People". It grants rights and authority
(sovereignty) to the people while imposing duties on the government. The
government should fear the people not vice versa.
And corporations in strict legal terms are a "legal fiction". In the words of
dissenting Supreme Court Justice Stevens "…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."
So, what is to be done? In principle "Move to Amend" is about amending the
Constitution to declare that "money is not speech, and that human beings, not
corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights."
However, Cobb argued that legal change usually follows cultural and social
change. Building a movement must precede such action. Move to Amend has started
by organizing cities, counties and states to pass resolutions calling for this
legal change. 300,000 people have participated so far and 500 resolutions have
been passed around the country.
He says we should aim for ten times those numbers before we reach the tipping
point. Where we might change the Constitution and/or expect the Court to reverse
Cobb travels the country non-stop and is pleased that this is not a partisan
issue. Tea Party people and Occupy people alike recognize that people need to
regain their power over corporations and government.
And it starts right here with proposed resolutions in the City and the County of
Santa Barbara and in the State of California. According to Cobb, the people can
and will prevail.
33 comments on this article. Read/Add
# # # #