BROOKHAVEN, NY Affiliate of Move To Amend
Your donations are extremely appreciated! They enable us to continue our mission.
The mission of Move To Amend Brookhaven is to generate effective grassroots support for the passage of a 28th Amendment of the US Constitution, by taking peaceful and respectful actions that advance civil discourse and promote working together at the civic, town, county, state and federal levels of government. We are committed to educating, mobilizing and involving the public about the need for this initiative and working with like-minded organizations.
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MTA Brookhaven speaks to Brookhaven Town Board:
(10/29/13 meeting – We speak at 22:30)
For more information, visit: https://movetoamend.org/ny-brookhaven
What is “Corporate Personhood”?
There are two conceptions of “corporate personhood”. The first simply bestows upon corporations the ability to engage in many legal actions (e.g. enter into contracts, sue, be sued, etc). This is widely accepted and we do not object to this.
However, “corporate personhood” also commonly refers to the Supreme Court-created precedent of corporations enjoying constitutional rights that were intended solely for human beings. We believe this form of “corporate personhood” corrupts our Constitution and must be corrected by amending the Constitution. Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution ever mention corporations, but thanks to decades of rulings by Justices who molded the law to favor elite interests, corporations today are granted so-called “rights” that empower them to deny citizens the right to full self-governance. For example, the Supreme Court has:
- prohibited routine inspections of corporate property without a warrant or prior permission, even though scheduling such visits may permit a company to hide threats to public health and safety. (Marshall v Barlow’s, 1978)
- struck down state laws requiring companies to disclose product origins (International Dairy v. Amnestoy, 1996), thus creating “negative free speech rights” for corporations and preventing us from knowing what’s in our food.
- prohibited citizens wanting to defend their local businesses and community from corporate chains encroachment from enacting progressive taxes on chain stores. (Liggett v. Lee, 1933)
- struck down state laws restricting corporate spending on ballot initiatives and referenda, enabling corporations to block citizen action through what, theoretically, is the purest form of democracy. (First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti).
The notorious 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad is just one in a long series of Supreme Court cases that entrenched “corporate personhood” in law. Justices since have struck down hundreds of local, state, and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on this illegitimate premise. Armed with these “rights,” corporations wield ever-increasing control over jobs, natural assets, politicians, even judges and the law.
We believe corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges citizens and their elected representatives willfully grant them. Our Amendment will reverse the Court’s invention of “corporate personhood” and limit corporations to their proper role: doing business.
What is the process to amend the US Constitution?
An amendment has to be proposed either by a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress, or else by a constitutional convention convened when the legislatures of 2/3 of the states so request. The amendment has to be ratified either by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states, or by conventions in 3/4 of the states, depending on which means of ratification Congress proposes.
All of the amendments to the Constitution, of which there are now 27, were proposed by Congress, and all but one were ratified by state legislatures. The convention route has never been used for proposing an amendment, and was used only once for ratifying an amendment (the 21st, which eliminated Prohibition).
What is the language of the amendment?
Move to Amend Proposed Amendment
Section 1 [Corporations are not people and can be regulated]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
What is Move to Amend’s position on the other proposals that have been proposed or introduced in Congress?
While it is exciting to see the flurry of momentum and energy that is finally getting some traction in a small segment of Congress, Move to Amend is very clear that it is important that we not let our goals be diluted by our legislators in Washington, even by those who mean well and want to see reform in our political system.
Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule – there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.
It is our belief that we need to operate on the assumption that once an Amendment comes out of Congress we won’t get another shot. So, we MUST get it right!
With many competing proposals, it can be confusing to figure out what is what in terms of what the proposals will actually do. We have prepared a summary of each of the amendments proposed, including what is missing from each one.
We also encourage you to check out our article, Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights, to explain why we feel so strongly that half-way solutions cannot be accepted.
The Move to Amend amendment will clearly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and allows for no loopholes. Our amendment will put people in charge of our government, and corporations in their proper place.
What About Unions and Non-Profits?
Our perspective is that no “artificial entities” – non human beings – should have rights spelled out under the Constitution. This includes unions and non-profit corporations.
Rights do not come from government; we have them because of the very fact that we are alive – they are inalienable. Given that, government does not actually have authority to grant rights to entities created by law. Certain powers and privileges may be needed and desired for certain entities over others, but not constitutional rights.
Non-profits do serve a different function than that of for-profit corporations, as do unions. But, these powers and privileges need to be spelled out legislatively – through a democratic process – not granted by the legal system under the Constitution.
What is your strategy to get this amendment passed?
Our strategy is to work on the local level before moving on to the state or federal level to build a grassroots movement organized and powerful enough to force Congress to act.
Our primary organizing tool is local resolution campaigns. Resolution campaigns are a powerful way for communities to send a message to Congress and let our representatives know we want them to act.
What will you do with the petition names?
The Motion to Amend is the beginning of a multi-year movement to amend the Constitution. We are not petitioning anyone else to do that for us. Every individual and organization that signs on to the Motion to Amend is a part of this movement. We will continue to reach out to you and to provide support in efforts to win adoption by the states of democracy amendments to the national and state constitutions.
We do not sell your information.
Why all this talk about democracy? Isn’t the United States a republic?
Our use of the term “democracy” is shorthand for what is technically our political system – a democratic republic with direct election by citizens of other citizens to represent us, We the People. “Democracy” accurately describes, however, the direct ability and power of citizens through education, advocacy and organizing to influence other citizens, the media and elected officials through organizations, campaigns and social movements.
“Democracy” is also an accurate description of the several ways We the People in many states directly govern and bypass elected representatives. These include the initiative, referendum and recall – the power of citizens to create laws, reverse laws and remove elected representatives.
Whether democracy, republic, or democratic republic, they (and we) are all effectively weakened when corporations possess inalienable constitutional rights to influence public opinion, shape public laws, mold public officials and intimidate public communities.
Are there recommended actions and campaigns to use to promote Move to Amend?
Currently, our main goals are to increase popular awareness and understanding of our campaign, and to pass local resolutions within organizations and local communities, in order to put pressure on elected officials at the local, state, and national levels, and grow the movement.
What is a Move to Amend resolution, what is the purpose of working to get one passed, and are there example resolutions available?
A resolution is a statement of collective support. It is not a law, and thus cannot be overturned by corporate lawyers. By working to pass a resolution more people become aware of this issue and it builds movement momentum.
Passing a resolution is a strong signal to local, state, and federal legislators that community members want to see an amendment passed and it puts pressure on these elected officials to act accordingly. The ways in which you can pass a resolution will depend on the laws in the state and locality where you live.