Vast Majority Wants to Amend the Constitution to Overturn Corporate Personhood

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    Jan 30, 2011 6:59 PM GMT
    Probably the most important issue of our times. And before any of our conservative brethren has a aneurysm, I'm in favor of unions and nonprofits being subject to the same rules.

    Matthew RothschildVast Majority Wants to Amend the Constitution to Overturn Corporate Personhood!

    Last January, the Supreme Court handed our democracy over to corporations.

    It said, in its Citizens United decision, that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money to try to elect or defeat candidates for office.

    It said that corporations are, amazingly, persons.

    So long as this ruling stands, any hope of having democracy in America will fade.

    But fortunately, the vast majority of the American public despises this ruling and favors the only remedy available to us: amending the Constitution.

    In a recent poll by Hart Research, 87% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and even 68% of Republicans support the passage of an amendment that would “make clear that corporations do not have the same rights as people.”

    There is, of course, a problem, a classic Catch-22.

    To amend the Constitution, we’ll have to get supermajorities from our elected officials. Yet most of those officials are beholden to corporations that fund them, and those that aren’t would naturally fear retribution from big business at the polls the next time around.

    The only way to break this Catch-22 is to organize from the ground up: at city councils, at county boards, at state legislatures.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14372

    Jan 30, 2011 7:13 PM GMT
    I have to agree that the Supreme Court's decision to extend "personhood" to corporations is a horrible miscarriage of justice. I think this horrendous court decision should be overturned. The granting of individual rights to corporations has only helped undermine our democratic process. If the US Constitution needs to be amended to help accomplish an overturn of the supreme court's decision regarding corporations than so be it.
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    Jan 30, 2011 7:27 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidI have to agree that the Supreme Court's decision to extend "personhood" to corporations is a horrible miscarriage of justice. I think this horrendous court decision should be overturned. The granting of individual rights to corporations has only helped undermine our democratic process. If the US Constitution needs to be amended to help accomplish an overturn of the supreme court's decision regarding corporations than so be it.


    Glad we agree on something! icon_razz.gif
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    Jan 30, 2011 7:33 PM GMT
    as one of the resident conservatives/libertarians...

    I agree 100%.

    I would also like such an amendment to put an end to all private financing of public campaigns, or at least a very tigt curb on it:

    Limit all pols to $1M of contributions from the public, along with a $1M cap on self-financed contributions.

    All pols (yes, including those goofy 3rd parties no one really cares much for, like the Greens or the Libertarians) would get equal time on PBS (gives a reason to keep it and NPR around) and CSPAN.

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    Jan 30, 2011 7:34 PM GMT
    I'd propose the legislation to amend the US Constitution anyway. Let Republicans oppose it, as they are bound to do in obedience to their corporate paymasters, and let their true allegiances be revealed. Which is not to their citizen constituents, but to the corporations that have bought them. Would be interesting, to say the least.
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    Jan 30, 2011 7:47 PM GMT
    alphatrigger saidas one of the resident conservatives/libertarians...

    I agree 100%.

    I would also like such an amendment to put an end to all private financing of public campaigns, or at least a very tigt curb on it:

    Limit all pols to $1M of contributions from the public, along with a $1M cap on self-financed contributions.

    All pols (yes, including those goofy 3rd parties no one really cares much for, like the Greens or the Libertarians) would get equal time on PBS (gives a reason to keep it and NPR around) and CSPAN.



    I agree with this too. Channels using broadcasts airwaves (television and radio) should also have to give equal time in exchange for access to airwaves.

    I would also like a defined campaign season of 3-6 months before Election Day.
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    Jan 30, 2011 7:54 PM GMT
    There are, as I recall, two routes to amend the Constitution:

    1. Introduce a bill to amend the Constitution in the House - if it passes with a 2/3 majority, it goes to the Senate for a vote. If the Senate passes it with a 2/3 majority, it then has a period of time (7 years?) by which it must be ratified by 3/4 of the states legislatures.

    2. 2/3 of the states legislatures call for Congress to convene a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) - which could potentially scrap the entire Constitution and replace it with a new document (just as the first ConCon in 1787 scrapped the Articles of Confederation). This method has never been invoked by the required number of state legislatures.

    A grass roots, multi-party approach would be needed to reverse this dreadful SCOTUS decision.

    Another approach would be for Congress to vote to remove jurisdiction for this case from the SCOTUS per Article III:

    "In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."
  • musclmed

    Posts: 3284

    Jan 30, 2011 7:56 PM GMT
    Christian73 said
    alphatrigger saidas one of the resident conservatives/libertarians...

    I agree 100%.

    I would also like such an amendment to put an end to all private financing of public campaigns, or at least a very tigt curb on it:

    Limit all pols to $1M of contributions from the public, along with a $1M cap on self-financed contributions.

    All pols (yes, including those goofy 3rd parties no one really cares much for, like the Greens or the Libertarians) would get equal time on PBS (gives a reason to keep it and NPR around) and CSPAN.



    I agree with this too. Channels using broadcasts airwaves (television and radio) should also have to give equal time in exchange for access to airwaves.

    I would also like a defined campaign season of 3-6 months before Election Day.



    Fairness doctrine however way you dress it is a non starter.

    Removing Person-hood of a corporation is not something i feel strongly about, and is probably a waste of time. Because someone will find some loophole for influence. So it probably would be a colossal waste of time. Again i dont really appose it.

    But as for fairness over public airwaves, does that include the internet? and cable/satellite?

    If it does it will mean the death of that genre and free areas will flourish.

    Who needs 30 channels of PBS?
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    Jan 30, 2011 8:01 PM GMT
    alphatrigger saidThere are, as I recall, two routes to amend the Constitution:

    You are correct in a certain sense, but wrong in your terminology. There is only one way to AMEND the EXISTING US Constitution. The other method you describe is to REPLACE it entirely, every word of it. That's not amending it.

    I would resist going the replacement route. At least at the present time with extreme partisanship, and Christian fundamentalist influence, we'd end up with chaos. And a document that would establish a Christian theocracy in the US. A document that is more Christian Righteousness than Human Rights. Let's just not go there.
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    Jan 30, 2011 8:02 PM GMT
    Christian73 said
    alphatrigger said...

    All pols (yes, including those goofy 3rd parties no one really cares much for, like the Greens or the Libertarians) would get equal time on PBS (gives a reason to keep it and NPR around) and CSPAN.



    I agree with this too. Channels using broadcasts airwaves (television and radio) should also have to give equal time in exchange for access to airwaves.

    I would also like a defined campaign season of 3-6 months before Election Day.


    Not a big fan of the Fairness (in broadcasting) Doctrine, but in only the context of such a set election season for political ads and interviews of pols who are running... I wouldn't object to it.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jan 30, 2011 8:05 PM GMT
    Since when would Scalia Roberts and Thomas et al be interested in anything that the people might say?

    They might as well have hung a sign on every seat in the Capitol and said "For Sale" price is negotiable
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    Jan 30, 2011 8:17 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    alphatrigger saidThere are, as I recall, two routes to amend the Constitution:

    You are correct in a certain sense, but wrong in your terminology. There is only one way to AMEND the EXISTING US Constitution. The other method you describe is to REPLACE it entirely, every word of it. That's not amending it.

    I would resist going the replacement route. At least at the present time with extreme partisanship, and Christian fundamentalist influence, we'd end up with chaos. And a document that would establish a Christian theocracy in the US. A document that is more Christian Righteousness than Human Rights. Let's just not go there.


    As I was taught about it, a ConCon need not be a replacement, assuming the ConCon was convened with limits to it's scope.

    Though I also doubt that a ConCon would necessarily limit itself - and a full replacement could prove exceptionally dangerous.

    Of course, where you worry about a "Christian Theocracy" (very unlikely IMO, for reasons I'll share in a moment) I worry about elite internationalists and corporations dismantling our rights to freely assemble, free speech, and to bear arms.

    Concerning theocracy or its more easily implemented cousin theodemocracy, I do not forsee this as a threat as there are a great many conflicting strains of Christianity from Unitarian-Universalists to a ton of Independent Fundamentalist churches with all kinds of doctrinal differences.

    Furthermore, Islam and Atheism are on a marked rise in the US, which means that we are more likely to find a balance somewhere in the form of convenient religions that separate fools from their money for the most part - or if you will... the religious status quo.
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    Jan 30, 2011 8:35 PM GMT
    alphatrigger saidAs I was taught about it, a ConCon need not be a replacement, assuming the ConCon was convened with limits to it's scope.

    A Constitutional Convention creates a brand new constitution. While it is true that parts of the old constitution could be retained, as the Framers may write, and the States may ratify, you're nevertheless starting with a blank sheet, unlike an Amendment. The old constitution is swept away, terminated, deleted, erased, and replaced by an entirely new document. That is where I see the danger for much mischief with our present political climate. And the loss of a brilliant document written by people more noble, principled and high-minded than anyone in politics today.
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Jan 30, 2011 8:39 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidI'd propose the legislation to amend the US Constitution anyway. Let Republicans oppose it, as they are bound to do in obedience to their corporate paymasters, and let their true allegiances be revealed. Which is not to their citizen constituents, but to the corporations that have bought them. Would be interesting, to say the least.


    Q F T icon_exclaim.gif
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jan 30, 2011 8:41 PM GMT
    Never in a million years will you get the corporate whores (Congressmen and Senators) to pass this.

    We'll have to wait until the United States Supreme Court has a majority of Democrats, then have them overturn the ridiculous activist decision that allows corporations to BUY political contests.
  • musclmed

    Posts: 3284

    Jan 30, 2011 8:57 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    alphatrigger saidAs I was taught about it, a ConCon need not be a replacement, assuming the ConCon was convened with limits to it's scope.

    A Constitutional Convention creates a brand new constitution. While it is true that parts of the old constitution could be retained, as the Framers may write, and the States may ratify, you're nevertheless starting with a blank sheet, unlike an Amendment. The old constitution is swept away, terminated, deleted, erased, and replaced by an entirely new document. That is where I see the danger for much mischief with our present political climate. And the loss of a brilliant document written by people more noble, principled and high-minded than anyone in politics today.


    read a little more.

    I got what he was saying. He was referring to a limited constitutional convention which has constraints.

    Danger is on both sides. I doubt it would come to pass as with current legislature makeup it would be opposed by liberals.

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    Jan 30, 2011 8:59 PM GMT
    The ruling is hardly surprising - in other common law countries, corporations are also 'persons'. However, we need to be aware that it means they are LEGAL persons, not NATURAL persons (humans). Being a legal person means that corporations are able to be sued in tort, and be tried in criminal trials for corporate homicide. They would also have the legal rights of a 'person', but also be subjected to the same duties, liabilities etc. of a 'person'. Some rights are not extended to corporations e.g. the right to vote or freedom of religious expression. And how about being able to tax a 'person'?

    Taking away the legal principle means that you lift the corporate veil: liability falls squarely on the operators, shareholders and employees of the corporation. And let's remember where 'incorporated' comes from: to make into a body. Not only would lifting the corporate veil screw with business, but it would make corporations legally untouchable - there would be no legal entity to sue.

    Making such a constitutional amendment as the article proposed would be a waste of time because it already confirms what the legal principle already is.

    The US President was a senior lecturer in constitutional law; what does he have to say about this furor?
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    Jan 30, 2011 9:00 PM GMT
    Two things:

    1) Given the framework of the FP's thread opener, it is easily foreseeable that this thread will turn into a flame war quicker than Paris Hilton gets drunk at a party while uttering "that's hot." This thread should be relegated to the News and Politics section, where the usual posters can engage in name calling without everyone in the site having to constantly read the nonsense.

    2) Since it is still early enough in the thread, I'll add two pennies to it before someone calls me a four-letter name or it is highjacked by useless political rants.

    It seems the FP doesn't know it, but already, corporations are not granted all the rights that humans get. A constitutional amendment tends to be introduced because someone wants something to be changed. You can't advocate to change the law when the law is already what you advocate. Well, I mean...you can, but then it wouldn't make sense.

    It is also evident from the FP's opening that he has not read the Citizens United opinions (and if he has, he doesn't seem to understand them). Rather, the FP is reiterating the debate that the liberal/conservative media have advanced for the past year. I'm not sure I can rationally enter the discussion in this thread if the FP has not read, or has not fully understood, the content of the published opinions. I don't blame the FP because the length and complexity of the opinions make it far more likely that people will get their "condensed info" from the general media (ensuring that people will follow the lead of whatever media outlet they prefer based on their political leanings), as opposed to take the time to read and critically examine the contents of the text.

    Now I'll sit back and wait for a whole bunch of people to debate an amendment that has no reason to exist.
    ---- Donald: I propose that we should debate that bribing the police should be a crime.
    ---- Mickey: but wait, bribing the police is already a crime...
    ---- The rest of the Disney family: well, let's debate it anyway! yay!!
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    Jan 30, 2011 9:13 PM GMT
    musclmed said
    Art_Deco said
    alphatrigger saidAs I was taught about it, a ConCon need not be a replacement, assuming the ConCon was convened with limits to it's scope.

    A Constitutional Convention creates a brand new constitution. While it is true that parts of the old constitution could be retained, as the Framers may write, and the States may ratify, you're nevertheless starting with a blank sheet, unlike an Amendment. The old constitution is swept away, terminated, deleted, erased, and replaced by an entirely new document. That is where I see the danger for much mischief with our present political climate. And the loss of a brilliant document written by people more noble, principled and high-minded than anyone in politics today.

    read a little more.

    I got what he was saying. He was referring to a limited constitutional convention which has constraints.

    Danger is on both sides. I doubt it would come to pass as with current legislature makeup it would be opposed by liberals.

    I'm not aware of such a thing as a "LIMITED Constitution Convention." The purpose of it is to replace the Constitution; there are no half-measures.

    But then we've never had a Convention since the 1780s, so not guaranteed what might happen. Yet anything COULD happen, because this is a complete reset. Hence my apprehension.

    Not sure what you mean about "current legislative makeup" and opposition by liberals. The majority of State legislatures are right-wing Republican at this moment. They would be the ones who approve a Constitutional amendment passed out of Congress, or who would ratify a new Constitution following a Convention. And remember, this would be a totally new Constitution, no longer the one adopted in 1787, but re-dated at some point in this 21st Century.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 30, 2011 9:29 PM GMT
    yourname2000 saidSure, corporations can be people....but people DIE.


    Corporations do die: it's called dissolving or liquidating the corporation.
  • musclmed

    Posts: 3284

    Jan 30, 2011 9:37 PM GMT
    collegestudd saidTwo things:

    1) Given the framework of the FP's thread opener, it is easily foreseeable that this thread will turn into a flame war quicker than Paris Hilton gets drunk at a party while uttering "that's hot." This thread should be relegated to the News and Politics section, where the usual posters can engage in name calling without everyone in the site having to constantly read the nonsense.

    2) Since it is still early enough in the thread, I'll add two pennies to it before someone calls me a four-letter name or it is highjacked by useless political rants.

    It seems the FP doesn't know it, but already, corporations are not granted all the rights that humans get. A constitutional amendment tends to be introduced because someone wants something to be changed. You can't advocate to change the law when the law is already what you advocate. Well, I mean...you can, but then it wouldn't make sense.

    It is also evident from the FP's opening that he has not read the Citizens United opinions (and if he has, he doesn't seem to understand them). Rather, the FP is reiterating the debate that the liberal/conservative media have advanced for he past year. I'm not sure I can rationally enter the discussion in this thread if the FP has not read, or has not fully understood, the content of the published opinions. I don't blame the FP because the length and complexity of the opinions make it far more likely that people will get their "condensed info" from the general media (ensuring that people will follow the lead of whatever media outlet they prefer based on their political leanings), as opposed to take the time to read and critically examine the contents of the text.

    Now I'll sit back and wait for a whole bunch of people to debate an amendment that has no reason to exist.
    ---- Donald: I propose that we should debate that bribing the police should be a crime.
    ---- Mickey: but wait, bribing the police is already a crime...
    ---- The rest of the Disney family: well, let's debate it anyway! yay!!



    My god you have made my day. Just when i thought there was no hope for our country.

    A 25 year old so wise.......

    A sage post.

    There is hope.
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    Jan 30, 2011 11:23 PM GMT
    jprichva said
    collegestudd saidIt is also evident from the FP's opening that he has not read the Citizens United opinions (and if he has, he doesn't seem to understand them).

    It is evident from your remarks that you don't know the long history of treating corporations as citizens, a line of Supreme Court cases stretching back to 1886, in which corporations were deemed to be 'persons' with respect to the 14th amendment, and 1907, in which corporations were denied the right to contribute to political campaigns. The Citizens United decision overruled this because the ban would limit a person's (corporation's) right to free speech.

    So of COURSE it's about corporate 'personhood'. If a corporation were not a 'person' under the law, it would have no 1st amendment rights, assuming that the right to contribute to a political campaign is a free speech issue. Most scholars (and I) believe that money does not in fact equal speech.



    Before I answer substantively, I'll correct some (not all, otherwise the post would be very lengthy) of the mistakes stated in your post.

    1) You stated that it is evident I'm not familiar with "the long history of treating corporations as citizens." First, there is no "history" of treating corporations as "citizens." There is (and there has been), however, debate about whether corporate entities can or should be treated as persons under the 14th AMT. The words "citizen" and "person" have completely different meanings under the 14th AMT.

    The 1886 date you mention presumably refers to the Santa Clara case, which had little, if anything, to do with corporate "personhood" (it was about taxing railroad property). The controversial nature of that case does not hinge on the actual text of the opinion, but rather on a headnote (which is not part of the opinion) where the reporter mentioned that the Supremes agreed that the 14th AMT applies to corporations. The opinion, however, explicitly mentioned that the issue of 14th AMT application to corporations was not being decided.

    2) There is no line of Supreme Court cases that includes a decision rendered in 1907 that deals with the issue argued. The 1907 date you give most likely refers to the Tillman Act, which barred corporate finance contributions. (It should be noted that Tillman introduced that piece of legislation because he opposed corporations advocating favorable treatment of blacks and not some greater-good cause revolving around pressumed evils of corporate corruption).

    In any event, neither Santa Clara (1886), nor Tillman (1907) have much to do with the issue decided in Citizens United last year. Your response is parroting what the media has made out to be the center of debate, and what the media believes are the key issues of importance, but not what is truly at stake.

    3) You mentioned "the Citizens United decision overruled this because the ban would limit a person's (corporation's) right to free speech." This is also incorrect. The issue raised by the case was whether the federal law under consideration violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. The federal law banned independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions in a candidate's election. The decision did not even consider the issue of direct corporate or union contributions, or whether Congress has the authority to regulate this type of campaign finance legislation. Much less that the independent expenditures or general treasury funds constituted part of a "person" under corporate "personhood."

    ____
    In this case, the Supremes were confronted with conflicting lines of precedent: a pre-Austin line that forbids restrictions on political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity and a post-Austin line that permits them. No case before Austin had held that Congress could prohibit independent expenditures for political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. Before Austin Congress had enacted legislation for this purpose, and the Government urged the same proposition. So it's not like Austin had decades of precedent behind it. But there was precedent supporting the notion that the identity of the speaker is not decisive in determining whether speech is protected.

    Corporate "personhood" has little to do with that case. Corporations will never get all, or even nearly all, the rights humans get. Corporations don't get many constitutional rights because the Constitution was written for human beings, not businesses or legal constructs, and although corporations get some rights, they don't have all the rights that you enjoy as a human being.

    People these days are a bit too lazy to get the information they need straight from the appropriate sources, mostly because it is boring and it takes up time that they can spend watching their favorite show, shopping, discussing what lady gaga wore at some fucking award show, or anticipating the new Britney Spears album amid repeated episodes of epileptic outbursts. So it is understandable that people get the info they get from blogs and other news agencies that try to simplify complex issues in an effort to grab the very short attention span of their readers.

    Your understanding of the case and its implications, along with the need for a constitutional amendment, are as limited as the media has allowed your understanding to be. I'm all for debating an issue, but a debate tends to be more fruitful in purpose when the parties understand the issues being debated.

    It is very easy for you or anyone to post things you've heard others say about an issue without having digested or understood the information heard. But it takes considerably more time to correct factual misgivings and guide the discussion toward a productive ending (which is why I mentioned that the way the FP started this thread is a good recipe for the types of derailment frequently seen in this site). Unless I read something interesting from someone who obviously knows about the discussion and has read (and understood) the published opinions, I would rather spend my time in more productive endeavors, which are far removed from the confines of this website.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Jan 30, 2011 11:35 PM GMT
    I think all members of Congress should be required to drive cars and wear cover-alls like NASCAR racers, with decals and patches of their "sponsors" applied.
  • DrewT

    Posts: 1327

    Jan 30, 2011 11:36 PM GMT
    Totally agree. Corporations should not be considered people.
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    Jan 31, 2011 12:34 AM GMT
    Collegestudd, you are now officially my law school hero icon_exclaim.gificon_exclaim.gificon_exclaim.gif That analysis of the laws was inspirational.