OP-ED | Corporate Personhood: Survival of the Richest

Editor July 16, 2012 2

By Nicholas Condorcet
Arizona Free Press | azfreepress.org

Every Citizen has the right to free speech under the first amendment which includes corporations per the US Supreme Court in 2010. We are told giving money in elections is free speech and no limits can be put on giving millions or billions of dollars. Many were shocked by this idea, which allows foreign-owned corporations to donate unlimited money in US elections all the way down to city council and arguably supports the idea of corporate monopolies as well as reducing the rights of free speech for natural born individuals who can’t afford to speak as much.

Like individuals it is hard to imagine how new ideas and small businesses like solar power, credit unions and local farmers would compete with the oil/coal industry, banks like Chase and BofA or Big Agriculture companies like Monsanto. Certainly each has been given the right to influence a congressional election with no limit beyond what they can afford but when one side is giving 50 million to a candidate voting on legislation favoring one industry and the other can only give thousand this is hardly equal speech. Large corporations already own most of America’s mass media, have the most money to buy advertising, and have long had an advantage to reach voters/consumers.

The Supreme Court has a long history of deciding who has equal rights in Dred Scott declaring Blacks have no rights, in Plessy v. Ferguson which created separate but equal schools for minorities, Korematsu v. U.S. decided Japanese could have all their property taken and be put in concentration camps. The same court ended up later reversing itself and negating its decision on separate but equal and in Roe VS Wade created womens’legal right to abortion. Often these decisions like the recent SB1070 decision allowing police to ask for identification papers in Arizona create an outpouring of support and protest across the nation.

Corporate Personhood has led to citizens’ protests at federal courts across the United States every year on the decisions anniversary. Many citizens have taken Corporate Personhood to their most accessible government body the city council to demand action be taken to overturn this decision and this has often been successful with Seattle WA, Los Angeles CA, Santa Fe NM, Tucson AZ, Flagstaff AZ and many other cities standing against unlimited corporate money in elections. Two states, Montana and Vermont, have stood against unlimited corporate donations and many cities have called their state to follow this path such as Santa Fe’s resolution “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Santa Fe calls on our Congressional and Legislative delegations and County Commissioners to join the tens of thousands of citizens, grassroots organizations and local governments across the country in the Move to Amend campaign to call for an Amendment to the Constitution to Abolish Corporate Personhood and return our democracy, our elections, our communities back to America’s human persons and to thus reclaim our sovereign right to self-governance.”

We the people have the ultimate job of ensuring our elections are clean and fair. In the case of Corporate Personhood many feel a handful of unelected officials struck down people’s rights to free elections and equal representation. If we work together we can fight back by making sure our city councils know where we stand. Call your councilman, go to the next meeting and speak up and sign petitions to support your city council standing up to Corporate Personhood.