The Aristocracy of our Monied Corporations

CORPORATE RIGHTS [and our communities]

From the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”  — Thomas Jefferson, 1816

“In 1819 in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, the U.S. Supreme Court introduced a distinction between the rights of a public corporation and a private one. The U.S. Constitution’s contract clause did not protect the political powers granted in the charter of a public corporation such as a municipality. State legislatures could, therefore, unilaterally amend or revoke municipal charters and strip a city of authority without the municipality’s consent. But the charter of a private corporation, such as a business enterprise or a privately endowed college, was an inviolate grant of property rights guaranteed by the nation’s Constitution.” — Jon C. Teaford, Municipal Charters

The structure of federal and state law – both statutory and constitutional – empowers corporations to override local democratic decision making.

Since the early 1800s, corporations have gained rights and protections under the United States Constitution.  While we never find the word “corporation” in the Constitution, corporations are able to invoke constitutional “rights” and protections under the Commerce Clause and Contracts Clause, as well as under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Corporations use these “rights” to challenge state and local laws, and to chill efforts at the local level to fight corporate siting plans.  Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dartmouth case in 1819, “private” business corporations first gained constitutional protection from government interference in internal governance, ostensibly under the Contract Clause of the Constitution. Curiously, the court found no reason to similarly protect municipal corporations, such as towns, boroughs, cities and counties from state interference with self-government.

As an example: the Waste Management Corporation was able to successfully sue the State of Virginia under the Commerce Clause to overturn a state law which prohibited the importation of out-of-state waste, arguing that the law interfered with the flow of commerce.  With the First Amendment, we see corporations participating in the writing of our laws and the election of candidates at all levels of government.  Citing the Fifth Amendment “Takings Clause,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon (1922), that coal corporations must be compensated for property value lost due to laws protecting homes from mining subsidence.  Under the Fourteenth Amendment, corporations are able to claim equal protection and due process rights.

Charters of incorporation seem to grant special privileges for private wealth, including limited liability protections from legal responsibility by individuals benefiting by dint of this corporate shield, along with the “rights” of pershonhood bestowed by the courts. Any yet charters do not actually grant rights, but rather they deny rights held by all by identifying corporations as a specially protected class under the law.

While corporate charters once privileged all corporations to the degree that the sovereign specified in each individual charter, another outcome of the Dartmouth case was that the federalist judges, lead by John Marshall, created the unprecedented distinction between “private” business corporations and “public” corporations like municipalities. The rights recognized judicially for publicly chartered business corporations were withheld from municipal corporations. This bias toward the “rights of property” (corporations) and against the right to assert self-governance through incorporated municipalities explains how it is that business corporations today dictate governance in our communities. The people are denied authority to “violate the rights” of corporations, and the right to assert self-governance in the communities where they live, using that government closes to them, is denied and usurped.

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One response to “The Aristocracy of our Monied Corporations

  1. FREEDOM IS BASE ON TRUST – TRUST IS BASE ON TRUTH
    LATINOS FOR HONEST GOVERNMENT
    PAZ ES EL RESPETO AL DERECHO AJENO – PEACE IS THE RESPECT TO THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS
    (ILLEGAL ALIENS RESPECT THE U.S. SOVEREIGNTY )
    http://www.usconstitution.net/constquick.html
    http://www.cinemalibrestore.com/sf_series.html
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    http://www.ronpaul2012.com/
    http://www.causes.com/causes/593708-support-the-constitution-bill-of-rights-honesty-in-government/actions
    Help us to spread the truth, pass this on and help us to take our country back.
    The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. (Maximilien Robespierre)
    http://www.westernjournalism.com/
    Fellow Americans, 2012 will be another year of economic crisis. The Obama administration economic policies fail to fix the economic mess created by the derivatives in 1998, from 2008 to the present we has 166,938 business bankruptcy and 4466,392 non-business. Our students loans outstanding is over 1 trillion Dolllar, the total mortgage debt outstanding is 2.8 trillion Dollars and foreclosure is on the rise, 29% of the US homeowners have their homes under water with a negative equity. Americans racked up nearly $48 billion in new credit card debt in 2011, 424 percent more than what they charged in 2010, and 577 percent more than in 2009. Although total outstanding credit rose only about $4 billion, that number was largely offset by the magnitude of consumer defaults-$44.2 billion worth, off $2.54 trillion. First-quarter pay-downs have become less significant and the amount of new debt added in each subsequent quarter has grown compared to its respective counterparts in the previous two years; this is do to the unemployment and underemployment that is close to 20%. We have millions of homeless and many living with relatives because they lost their homes.
    Fellow Americans, from 1998 to the present Obama and the incompetent Washington representatives have learn nothing, the economic meltdown of 1998 was the result of the economic policies of the genius of the US economic; Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers Timothy Geitner, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Not to mention the corrupt Washington politicians that are in the pocket of the Wall Street Financial lobbyist. Now this meltdown is the work of Obama, Timothy Geitner, Larry Summer, Ben Bernanke and the corrupt Washington politicians, derivatives foster corruption and fraud; Miss Brooksley Born, warm this corrupt government of the 1998 meltdown but they ridicule her and don’t listen to her; now we are heading in the same direction and Obama do not have a clue as to what to do to fix this mess and he continue making the same mistake that Clinton did. The US Treasury is destroying America, they are guilty of making millions of Americans poor, homeless and economic slaves, their policy do not spare any one that work for a living they demise the wealth of the middle class and made this huge national debt 15.5 trillions Dollars.
    Fellow Americans those SOBS destroy our future and they are enjoying the money that they stoled from the American people, is this justice?. They are traitors that should be prosecute and throw in jail. But we can not depend on congress to do their job and enforce the rule of law. Alan Greespan stop the CFTC from doing their job as consequence he and his cronies are the ones accountable to the people for their crime.
    God bless Miss, Born. She did her best to stop this mess, she pressed on with her plans, but Rubin accused her of not having the authority to do so. She absolutely and legally had such authority but Alan Greespan use congress and the corrupt news media to induce legislation and public opinion to void her power and to stop her from doing her job.
    Connect with Washington – http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/
    Spread the word let the people know . http://www.rumormillnews.com/MEDIA_EMAIL_ADDRESSES.htm
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    FREEDOM IS BASE ON TRUST – TRUST IS BASE ON TRUTH
    The Fredom Movement – posted by Juan Reynoso – teapartyoftx@gmail.com
    http://www.economicpredictions.org/who-is-to-blame-for-the-financial-crisis.htm
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/current/
    http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-industry-facts-personal-debt-statistics-1276.php
    http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/finance/2011/finance111103.htm

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