Position Statement regarding Corporate Personhood
Adopted, Jan 22, 2012
Because Unitarian Universalists (UUs) believe in the “inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and in the “use of the democratic process” in society at large, and:
1. Whereas, free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance; and,
2. Whereas, We the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect free speech and other rights of people, not corporations; and,
3. Whereas unlimited spending by corporations, flooding the political marketplace, drowning out the voices of individuals, jeopardizes the very democracy that we hold dear; and,
4. Whereas, Corporations are clearly not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations; and,
5. Whereas, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate the people’s laws; and,
6. Whereas Congress cannot pass a law to overturn the Supreme Court decision, once the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to say that corporations have the First Amendment rights of people; and,
7. Whereas, persons are rightfully recognized as human beings whose essential needs include clean air, clean water, safe and secure food, and corporations have none of these needs nor any other human feelings, concerns, aspirations (except for survival and profit), nor desires or dependencies, without all of which they lack the essence of humanity and personhood; and,
8. Whereas, corporations provide their human controllers with immense resources enabling them to act on their motives, whether good or bad, without risk of consequences, and,
9. Whereas, the wealth of corporations enables them to wield coercive force of law to overpower human beings and communities, thus denying the people’s exercise of their constitutional rights; and,
10. Whereas, corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, and the people have never granted constitutional rights to corporations, nor have they decreed that corporations have authority that exceeds the authority of the people of the United States; and,
11. Whereas, the judicial bestowal of civil and political rights upon corporations usurps basic human and Constitutional rights guaranteed to human persons, and also empowers corporations to sue municipal and state governments for adopting laws that violate ‘corporate rights’ even when those laws serve to protect and defend the rights of human persons and communities; and,
12. Whereas, corporations are not and have never been human beings, and therefore are rightfully subservient to human beings and governments as our legal creations; and,
13. Whereas, large corporations’ profits and survival are often in direct conflict with the essential needs and rights of human beings; and,
14. Whereas, unlimited corporate spending to influence elected officials diverts their attention from the peoples’ business, or even to vote against the interest of their human constituents, in order to ensure competitive campaign funds for their own re-election; and,
15. Whereas, corporations own most of America’s mass media and use that media to express their agenda rendering it difficult to discern the reality behind headlines and election campaigning;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Unitarian Universalists of Grants Pass fellowship endorses support for a constitutional amendment as follows:
An Amendment to Preclude Corporations from Claiming Bill of Rights Protections
Section 1. The U.S. Constitution protects only the rights of natural human beings.
Section 2. Corporations and other institutions shall be subordinate to any and all laws enacted by citizens and their elected governments.
Section 3. Corporations and other for-profit institutions are prohibited from attempting to influence the outcome of elections, legislation or government policy through the use of aggregate resources or by rewarding or repaying employees or directors to exert such influence.
Section 4. Congress shall have power to implement this article by appropriate legislation.
And, to pursue this objective, the fellowship calls upon its Board and/or its Social Action Committee to communicate this resolution and work closely with other Unitarian Universalist fellowships and offices, including Oregon Voices for Social Justice, and other appropriate local, state or national organizations.
Oppose Citizens United—Support Free Speech for People
2011 Action of Immediate Witness
BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists (UUs) believe in the “inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and in the “use of the democratic process” in society at large;
WHEREAS the U.S. Supreme Court decision of January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. FEC enshrined corporations as persons and equated money with speech;
WHEREAS this unprecedented ruling has already resulted in unlimited spending by corporations in state and federal elections in 2010, flooding the political marketplace with corporate money, drowning out the voices of individuals, and jeopardizing the very democracy that we hold dear;
WHEREAS anonymous, unlimited campaign spending and its associated domination of the media conflict with the fourth and fifth UU Principles;
WHEREAS Congress cannot pass a law to overturn the Supreme Court decision, once the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to say that corporations have the First Amendment rights of people;
WHEREAS continuing this precedent might result in ever increasing gaps between rich and poor, concentrated efforts by the wealthy to control elections by vast infusions of money into campaign front groups, and increasing corruption of the democratic process; and
WHEREAS we are entering the first presidential election cycle in which this ruling takes effect, so the urgency is for people to speak up NOW in opposition to this ruling and in support of a Constitutional amendment to overturn it, so that this is part of the presidential debates in 2012;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly urges member congregations to sign the resolution for The People’s Rights Amendment proposed at Free Speech For People and encourage their congressional representatives to sponsor such a resolution in opposition to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United (Find your U.S. Representatives.); and
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly urges member congregations to support pending and future federal and state legislation requiring maximum disclosure by corporations of all political contributions they make, whether directly to candidates or indirectly to advocacy groups; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages member congregations to support similar motions of other organizations such as Move to Amend, People for the American Way, and Public Citizen; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages member congregations to press their state senators and representatives to file similar state and local resolutions opposing the equation of corporate political speech with the free speech of individual persons and to use as models the 2011 state resolutions of Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State, and the local resolutions of the towns of Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Great Barrington, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Williamstown, Massachusetts& (See Free Speech For People, 2011 resolutions); and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2011 General Assembly encourages the existing 11 UU legislative ministries in the UU State Advocacy Network (UUSAN) to consider adopting “Oppose Citizens United—Support Free Speech for People” as a core issue among their statewide efforts, and encourages member congregations in states that do not YET have a legislative ministry to start one by contacting Interim Administrator Nancy Banks, at mailto:nancy.banks1 [at] verizon.net or 617-835-5426.
Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact in 2011-2012 to restore the effective voice of “we the people” and help to heal our democracy.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors. Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2011.