What About Past Harms Done By Corporations Because of Corporate Personhood?


That is an interesting question with no certain answer. The Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws (laws that punish for deeds committed before the law was written), and properly so. However, revoking corporate personhood does not create an ex post facto law. It may be possible to force corporations to rectify damage they did to the environment during the era of corporate personhood.

 

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If corporations can't lobby, how can they get laws that are fair to them?


Revoking corporate personhood would not immediately prevent corporations from lobbying, but it would allow laws to be passed (and enforced) that would restrict corporate lobbying and campaign contributions. If a state legislature or Congress is considering legislation  that affects a particular industry they would be able to hold hearings and interrogate corporate representatives. If a corporation feels its needs a change in the laws, not for its own profits but in order to insure competition or public safety, it could petition the legislature to hold such a hearing.

 

 

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How Would Small Businesses Be Affected?


Small, incorporated businesses would become artificial entities under the law. Most small businesses have gained no meaningful advantage from corporate personhood. Small businesses do not have the kind of money it takes to corrupt the political process that large corporations have. Small businesses would be better situated to protect their interests since laws favoring local businesses over national and international corporations would become legal.

 

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What Would Be The Immediate Effect of Revoking Corporate Personhood?


The only immediate effect of revoking corporate personhood, either at the state level or by the Supreme Court, would be to cause the legal status of corporations to revert back to that of artificial entities. (We should refuse to use the old terminology of artificial persons.) They could still be represented in courts by attorneys and would be subject to the law and taxation.

 

However, a whole body of Supreme Court decisions would have to be re-examined. The ability of States, when granting or renewing corporate charters, to restrict harmful activities of corporations would be greatly enhanced. New legislation to protect the environment, workers, small businesses, and consumers could be enacted without worrying that it would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

 

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How Can We Revoke Corporate Personhood?


Corporate personhood and corporate constitutional rights are a lie.  How do we get the courts and government to realize that?

The simple solution would be to somehow bring a case involving only corporate personhood to the Supreme Court and ask them to rule on it. Hopefully they would take a strict-constructionist line and recognize that the Constitution does not mean corporations when it says persons. This method is unlikely for a variety of reasons, the foremost being that the current Supreme Court is a product of the corporate-dominated legal system and appointees are designated by corporate-dominated presidents and approved by a corporate-dominated Congress. In addition, many roadblocks have been built into the system to prevent such a case from even coming to the Supreme Court. We would need a law in some State or locality specifically denying corporations personhood, but attorneys and judges have so far taken the view that any such lawwould be outside the allowable bounds for local jurisdictions. They can (and certainly will) advise elected officials that they cannot even allow such a law to come up for a vote or referendum.

 

But neither did the railroad attorneys simply declare corporations persons and a few days later have the Supreme Court agree with them. Powerful as they were, it took them 15 years to get corporate personhood enshrined in the system.

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What Would Change If Corporations Lost The Human Rights Protections of the Legal Fiction of "Corporate Personhood?"


by William Meyers

There are two broad areas that could change if we revoked corporate personhood. One is directly related to corporations not being persons for the purposes of the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments. The other is the critically important secondary effect of what can be achieved if we push corporations out of the political process, which can be achieved only if we remove their personhood. Knowing exactly what would or could change has to be based on what changes have been made, or prevented, since the establishment of corporate personhood as a legal principle in 1886.

Fortunately we do have a road map of sorts, a mirror image of this issue. In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, effectively declared that Anegros” were not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, were not in fact the persons it was meant to protect. In 1956 in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled so that suddenly ANegroes” again became full legal persons. I hope I don't need to describe the plight of African-Americans and other people of color during the period from 1896 to 1956, nor will I recount the campaign necessary to get the court to change its mind in 1956. Were African-Americans (and others classified as non-white) suddenly better off the day after the 1956 ruling? Potentially yes, but factually no. It took years of protests, court cases, legislative changes, changes in people's awareness and semantics, and even many people's murders at the hands of those who opposed change, before African-Americans began to be treated, legally, socially, and economically, as citizens and persons. The process is not yet complete.


When corporate personhood is terminated, whether it be by a Supreme Court decision, an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or by citizens and States recovering the power to govern themselves democratically, the next day it may seem like nothing really has changed. But the potential for change will be as great as it was for people of color after Brown v. Board of Education.

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Is this going to abolish corporations?


No, this is not a project to abolish corporations.  The only thing this project is proposing is to end the inappropriate benefits offered by the legal fiction of "corporate personhood" that gives the artificial entity called a corporation the status of a living, breathing human being, and as such acquired "human rights protections".  This legal fiction is the what gives corporations equal access to government, the right to lobby (freedom of speech)  and all other protections and rights offered by the Constitution to any other human being.  This single legal contrivance lies at the heart of why corporations have been allowed to get away with what they have been getting away with.

The fact of the matter is the vast majority of corporations don't have any need to exploit this loophole and don't.  It's primarily the huge multi-national corporations that do and reek the most havoc because of it.

So when we are successful at ending this ridiculous notion that corporations are people, nothing else about corporations will change.  They will not all be shut down.  They will just be subject to the will of the people to a far greater degree.  And they will no longer be able to write all the legislation they wish to make every rotten thing they want to do legal.  And they won't be able to give ANY money to politicians or interfere in the election process. And they won't be allowed to tie issues up in court forever while they continue to rape and pillage to their heart's content.

 

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Isn't amending the Constitution just going to be opening up a huge can of worms?


Some people like to characterize the amendment process as opening up a can of worms.  I prefer to look at is as "the amendment process" and leave out the can of worms part.  All comments like this accomplish is to make people feel helpless. 

The ability to amend the Constitution is an essential aspect of our Constitutional Republic.  As the needs of the times change, we have to able to adapt the Constitution accordingly.  No it's not a slam dunk process.  An amendment really has to pass the muster of a lot of people before it will be ratified.  It's expected that an amendment will be debated and challenged.  An amendment really has to be seen as totally necessary by 3/4 of the states.

The good news with regards to the amendment this project is proposing is that it's not a new amendment.  It's just amending an already existing amendment, the 14th Amendment in order to make it's true intent and meaning crystal clear.

The language of the 14th Amendment is ambiguous.  Because it's meaning is not clear, corporations have been able to use their wealth and power to twist the meaning in court to suit their selfish purposes. 

So, if by opening up a can of worms you mean that corporations are going to pitch a fit, then yes, they will.  But I think the vast majority of people in this country would agree that the time for letting corporations have their way with us really needs to come to a screeching halt!  

Until we clarify the meaning and intent of the 14th Amendment, they will continue to use it as the legal basis for directly interfering and lobbying our government and corrupting the election process with their vast wealth and control of the media.

 

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Isn't It Difficult to Amend The Constitution?


Well, yes and no.  Yes in the sense it requires 3/4 of the states to ratify any amendment to the constitution.  So the amendment really has to be pretty darn important and relevant to a huge number of people in order to be adopted.  I just read that there have been around 10,000 attempts thorughout the years and most all of them failed.  They tend to be things like The Marriage Protection Amendment which aims to make the legal definition of marriage the union of one man and one women.  The last amendment, the 27th Amendment was actually just ratified in 1992.   You won't believe the critical issue it deals with. 


The 27th Amendment: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

 

This amendment to the United States Constitution provides that any change in the salary of members of United States Congress may only take effect after the next general election. Sometimes called the "Congressional Compensation Amendment of 1789", the "Congressional Pay Amendment", and the "Madison Amendment", it was intended to serve as a restraint on the power of Congress to set its own salary—an obvious potential for conflict-of-interest.

This amendment was proposed way back in 1789 and it took our glorious leaders till 1992 to consent.  So I ask you, is the last amendment that was ratified as important as the one this project is proposing?  And besides, this project really isn't proposing creating a totally new amendment.  It's simply proposing an amendment that clarifys an existing amendment that desperately needs to be clarified.    Right now corporations are allowed to get away with massive fraud and corruption beyond belief simply because they've used their wealth and power to distort the meaning of who "All Persons" refers to in the 14th Amendment.   Any honest person clearly understands it refers to living, breathing human beings.  A corporation is not a person.   You will never see and actual physical, bodily person that is a corporation.  It's an absurd notion on it's face.  As the cartoon on the home page depicts, slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property.  Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.

So no, it's not hard to amend the constitution in this case because we are not proposing a new amendment.  We are just proposing an amendment that clarifies and existing one.  Doing this will be challenging though.  Corporations will no doubt rally all their wealth and lawyerly minions to wage war against an amendment like this.  This is to be expected.  But is that a good reason not to rally the effort required to demand our representatives do OUR WILL rather than corporate will?  If we don't take a serious stand at some point, we may as well just stop whining about the corporate tyranny that is on our doorsteps and just let them have it all.

If you really want to stop what's happening, we have to close the legal loophole they have been using.  It's really that simple.  So as far as I'm concerned, I don't care how challenging amending the Constitution is.  It has to be done if you want to REALLY turn things around.

 

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