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[greenyes] Re: [Sustainable] [Fwd: Corporate Personhood Is Doomed]
This was originally posted to a local sustainability list...it elaborates on a reference that Amy Bann mentionned in her response.    If Hartmann is correct in his analysis, then the whole mythology of corporate personhood is invalid...he asserts that the justices NEVER made this ruling, it has just been perpetuated through the mischief of a pro-corporate court reporter including the idea in his summary of the ruling, but is not explicitly stated in its body.       

Questions which come to mind:   If true, how has this myth been perpetuated?   [what other laws have been "tampered" and not challenged?]  When is the next" legal window" to challenge its application?  [maybe the challenge to McCain-Feingold, a law which would be largely irrelevant if corporations were not given the rights of personhood?]   Would it be wise to challenge the legality of this position now, or does it make sense to build grassroots political support first?    [Will a more conservative, pro-corporate Supreme Court be installed which will leave a legacy of longer than the 8-12 years posed...]?

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FYI - ps

"Claire W. Gilbert" wrote:

> Dear Friends,
>
> If the Hartmann's book is valid, then we should all should sing, dance, and
> rejoice!  Read on.
>
> Claire W. Gilbert, Ph.D.
> ***
> Published on Thursday, December 26, 2002 by CommonDreams.org
>
> Sing, Dance, Rejoice
> Corporate Personhood Is Doomed
>
> A Review of Thom Hartmann's Unequal Protection: the Rise of Corporate
> Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
> by Richard W. Behan
>
>      Unequal Protection may prove to be the most significant book
> in the history of corporate personhood, a doctrine which dates to
> 1886. For 116 years, corporate personhood has been scrutinized and
> criticized, but never seriously threatened. Now Thom Hartmann has
> discovered a fatal legal flaw in its origin: corporate personhood
> is doomed.
>
>      What is "corporate personhood?" Suppose, to keep Wal-Mart at
> bay, your county commissioners enact an ordinance prohibiting
> Wal-Mart from doing business in your county. The subsequent (and
> immediate) lawsuit would be a slam-dunk for Wal-Mart's lawyers,
> because this corporation enjoys -- just as you and I do as living,
> breathing citizens -- the Constitutional rights of "due process"
> and "equal protection." Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is a person, not in
> fact, not in flesh, not in any tangible form, but in law.
>
>      To their everlasting glory, this is not what the Founding
> Fathers intended, as Mr. Hartmann explains in rich and engaging
> detail. And for 100 years after the Constitution was ratified,
> various governmental entities led corporations around on leashes,
> like obedient puppies, canceling their charters promptly if they
> compromised the public good in any way. The leashes broke in 1886,
> the puppies got away, and the public good was increasingly
> compromised -- until it was finally displaced altogether.
>
>      Today, the First Amendment protects the right of
> corporations-as-persons to finance political campaigns and to
> employ lobbyists, who then specify and redeem the incurred
> obligations. Democracy has been transformed into a crypto-
> plutocracy, and public policy is no longer crafted to serve the
> American people at large. It is shaped instead to maintain,
> protect, enhance or create opportunities for corporate profit.
>
>      One recent example took place after Mr. Hartmann's book was
> written. Senators Patty Murray from Washington and Ted Stevens from
> Alaska inserted a last-minute provision in this year's defense
> appropriation bill. It directed the Air Force to lease, for ten
> years, one hundred Boeing 767 airplanes, built and configured as
> passenger liners, to serve as aerial refueling tankers. Including
> the costs of removing the seats and installing the tanks, and then
> reversing the process ten years from now, the program will cost $17
> billion. The Air Force never asked for these planes, and they
> weren't in President Bush's budget for the Defense Department.
> Political contributions from the Boeing company totaled $640,000 in
> the 2000 election cycle, including $20,230 for Senator Murray and
> $31,100 for Senator Stevens.
>
>      The chairman of the CSX Corporation, Mr. John Snow, has been
> nominated by President Bush to be the new Secretary of the
> Treasury. Mr. Snow's company, another legal person, exercised its
> Constitutional rights by contributing $5.9 million to various
> campaigns -- three-quarters of it to Republicans -- over seven
> election cycles. It was a wise investment. In 3 of the last 4
> years, averaging $250 million in annual profits, CSX paid no
> federal income taxes at all. Instead, it received $164 million in
> tax rebates -- money paid to the company by the Treasury
> Department.
>
>      No, this is not what the Founding Fathers intended democracy
> to be. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as Mr. Hartmann details,
> were seriously anxious about "moneyed corporations" and their
> potential interference in public affairs. The Bill of Rights these
> two men drafted contained the ten Constitutional amendments that
> survive, and two more that did not: one was to control corporate
> expansion and dominance. (The other was to prohibit a standing
> army.)
>
>      As the 19th century wore on American corporations entered
> lawsuit after lawsuit to achieve a strategic objective: corporate
> personhood. With that, they could break the leashes of social
> control and regulation. They could sue county commissioners. Or
> lease their unsold airliners to the Air Force. Or collect millions
> in tax rebates.
>
>      In his spellbinding Chapter 6 -- "The Deciding Moment" -- Mr.
> Hartmann tells how corporate personhood was achieved.
>
>      Orthodoxy has it the Supreme Court decided in 1886, in a case
> called Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad, that
> corporations were indeed legal persons. I express that view myself,
> in a recent book. So do many others. So do many law schools. We are
> all wrong.
>
>      Mr. Hartmann undertook instead a conscientious search. He
> finally found the contemporary casebook, published in 1886, blew
> the dust away, and read Santa Clara County in the original, so to
> speak. Nowhere in the formal, written decision of the Court did he
> find corporate personhood mentioned. Not a word. The Supreme Court
> did NOT establish corporate personhood in Santa Clara County.
>
>      In the casebook "headnote," however, Mr. Hartmann read this
> statement: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the
> intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment . .
> . which forbids a State to deny to any person within its
> jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Here, anyway,
> corporate personhood was "provided" -- in the headnote, instead of
> the formal written decision of the Supreme Court. But that's not
> good enough.
>
>      What is a "headnote?" It is the summary description of a court
> decision, written into the casebook by the court reporter. It is
> similar to an editor's "abstract" in a scientific journal. Because
> they are not products of the court itself, however, headnotes carry
> no legal weight; they can establish no precedent in law. Corporate
> personhood, Mr. Hartmann discovered, is simply and unequivocally
> illegitimate.
>
>      The court reporter for Santa Clara County was Mr. John
> Chandler Bancroft Davis, a graduate of Harvard Law School.
>
>      Mr. Hartman has in his personal library 12 books by Davis,
> mostly original editions. They display Davis's close alliance with
> the railroad industry, and they support persuasively Mr. Hartmann's
> argument that Davis injected the personhood statement deliberately,
> to achieve by deceit what corporations had so far failed to achieve
> in litigation.
>
>      If Davis knew his headnote was legally sterile, though, we can
> only speculate about his tactics. Perhaps he thought judges in the
> future would read his headnote as if it could serve as legal
> precedent, and would thereafter invoke corporate personhood in
> rendering court decisions. That would be grossly irregular, and it
> would place corporate personhood in stupendous legal jeopardy if it
> ever came to light. But something of that sort must have happened,
> because corporate personhood over time spread throughout the world
> of commerce and politics.
>
>      Mr. Hartmann doesn't fill in this blank, but his daylighting
> of the irregularity will be the eventual undoing of corporate
> personhood. Its alleged source in Santa Clara County is a myth, a
> lie, a fraud. Corporate personhood simply cannot now survive, after
> Mr. Hartmann's book, a rigorous and sustained legal attack.
>
>      Sustained it will have to be, for years or decades or even
> longer: corporations will fight the attack bitterly, but we now
> know corporate personhood has utterly no basis in law.
>
>      This article is not copyrighted, so permission to reproduce it
> is unnecessary. Richard W. Behan's current book is Plundered
> Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and the Fate of the Federal Lands
> (Island Press, 2001). For a description of the book, a synopsis,
> and further information, go to http://www.rockisland.com/~rwbehan/.
> Mr. Behan is currently working on a more broadly rendered critique,
> Derelict Democracy: A Primer On the Corporate Seizure of America's
> Agenda. He can be reached by email at rwbehan@no.address For
> more on Mr. Hartmann's book, see http://unequalprotection.com.

--
Phil Shepard
shepard@no.address 
517-332-0761


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