Olympia's Move to Amend Campaign: An Invitation to Attend

March 12, 2012

Many of you know that the Move to Amend group meets the first Thursday of each month at MIXX 96 in the conference room. Join us at 6:30 pm. We're pretty excited about the breadth of what is going on in our community.

Our group, along with Occupy Oly Political Action Work Group (PAWG), is about to approach our local city councils to create a resolution, which will demand our state representatives take forward a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing corporate "personhood." We will also call on state and national representatives to overturn Citizens United, making sure that every vote counts, as well as our participation, and will insist that "money does not equal speech."

We wish to ensure our communities are protected from harm to the environment. We want small businesses to be self-sustaining, providing local jobs serving meaningful, healthy outcomes.

To be clear, what this means is that corporations do not have 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 14th Amendment "rights." Nowhere in the Constitution do corporations have rights. They do have obligations and responsibilities to We the People. At the Olympia Solidarity Forum, we had a lively group discussion about the role of Supreme Court Justices, and pondered what institution or body might eventually replace the office of the Supreme Court. The question debated was "What is the role of a Supreme Court justice?" (What is the difference between "interpreting" law and "legislating"?)

Most of us were outraged with the passage of the disastrous 2010 Citizens United ruling. We are not in favor of corporations buying elections, and do favor the 28th Amendment to abolish corporate "rights." The stunning results of an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 80 percent of Americans oppose the ruling, including 65 percent who "strongly" oppose it, an unusually high intensity of sentiment. "The bipartisan nature of these views is striking in these largely partisan times. The court's ruling is opposed, respectively, by 76, 81 and 85 percent of Republicans, independents and Democrats..."

We are excited because small-business owners understand how multinational corporations keep jobs overseas, take money out of our communities, and stop credible solutions like a Washington Investment Trust from getting the green light among our legislators. Who owns our "democracy?" Not the 99 percent who work harder than ever for less or no money.

Recently Eugene, Oregon passed a resolution to amend the Constitution, as did Portland.

Special thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement for bringing banking and foreclosure issues, and corporate power into our lives, front and center.

As cities are passing these amendments each week, I've been reflecting on what I've seen just since going to Madison at the end of last August to attend the Democracy Conference. One thousand of us attended some great workshops, and all the Affiliate Move to Amend chapters held a day-long strategic planning session. We learned from several cities planning campaigns, many of whom have now passed their resolutions (LA Move to Amend led the Los Angeles City effort, with a stunning 11-0 majority Council vote). My recent count shows 77 cities, counties and organizations have passed resolutions to abolish corporate personhood. Several states have, or are in the process of completing resolutions.

Scott Silber, an organizer from Boulder CO, where a resolution to Amend the Constitution passed early last Fall, talked about how important he felt it was to get the whole city involved in understanding and supporting a resolution. We concur, it is important, presenting us with the opportunity to build on shared community values.

People do understand that corporations do not have the right to buy elections. Most understand that corporations are not living "people" with human rights. Over the past 125 years corporations have claimed many rights, to:

  • Assume the word "corporation" appears in the Constitution, which it does not.
  • Continue building multinational corporations' abusive powers, just as the British did with the Hudson Bay Company, the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the East India Company. (Wasn't our Revolution rooted in overthrowing the tea- trading corporation imposing taxes on us?)
  • Turn a corporate charter from a government granted privilege into a contract that cannot be altered by government.
  • Claim that the 14th Amendment applies to corporations, by forbidding a State to deny to any "person" within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, and later guaranteed "substantive due process" protection to corporations.
  • Use the Constitution to invalidate government regulation of the corporation.
  • Assume "free speech rights" in 1947 under the Taft-Hartley Act. In 1936 a newspaper corporation was awarded 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech in terms of selling advertising in newspapers without being taxed.
  • Grant corporations Constitutional powers under the Contracts Clause, Interstate Commerce Clause, Property Rights and Personhood rights, which includes the 14th Amendment, Bill of Rights and Civil Rights legislation.
  • Assume 4th Amendment protections to avoid random inspections, or audits, or search and seizure actions.
  • Obtain 7th Amendment rights to a jury trial in a civil case. The Court implied that the corporation has this right because a shareholder in a derivative suit would have that right.
  • Have the right to not speak and therefore protect the corporation's freedom of mind (since 1986 in Pacific Gas & Electric v Public Utilities Commission).
  • Overturn state restrictions on corporate spending on financial contributions to political candidates or parties, and on corporate spending on political referenda (1976, 1977).
  • Use the 5th Amendment to protect itself against double jeopardy to avoid retrial in an anti-trust case.

It was an eye-opening day looking at Supreme Court decisions. So little of this is covered in our schools. Three of us discussed being the first generation of 18-year-olds to vote in a presidential election year [in 1972]. 2012 marks the tenth election I will be able to participate in, and, for the eighth time, the question is "Whom will I vote against?" The corporations! Of course...

Follow our events and discussions at http://www.MovetoAmendOlympia.org.