Archive for Friday, March 2, 2012

Democrats seek to end corporate personhood

March 2, 2012


Democratic legislators on Thursday said they will introduce a resolution in the Legislature to urge Congress to pass a constitutional amendment aimed at abolishing “corporate personhood.”

The proposal seeks to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that says corporations have the same freedom of speech rights as people.

“Corporations don’t live and breathe or go to war or rebuild after tornadoes,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. “They are simply not people and do not deserve the same rights as people.”

The resolution urges Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood by establishing that the term “person” refers only to naturally born persons. Sixteen state legislatures have introduced similar measures.

“Citizens United is wrong because it confuses people with corporations and speech with money,” said state Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate tax committee.


Richard Heckler 3 years ago

One answer to our political problems : CUT OFF special interest financing of elections! YES even at the local level.

Our government is always claiming the USA is about democracy. In that case allow the citizens to practice democracy by allowing citizens to vote these issues into effect on the upcoming ballot:

Let's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the next ballot.

Let's have public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue.

Bribery of elected officials and bribed officials = the most stinky of all bribery!

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

Wow, it's been 4 days since you last posted this.

headdoctor 3 years ago

Wow Snap. It has been 5 years since you posted any valuable contribution to this forum.

pace 3 years ago

I think you are wrong. It has been more than 5 years since snap posted any thing of value. It is all bile not content.

jmadison 3 years ago

Would this exclusion also apply to corporations that are media outlets? If not, could a corporation declare itself a media outlet? Which states have similar measures?

gudpoynt 3 years ago

good point. Perhaps they should include some verbiage that distinguishes "press" from "media".

madcow 3 years ago

Press: Organizations that report facts. Media: Organizations that report bull... ony.

Liberty275 3 years ago

Please tell us who will be deciding what are facts and what is bull. I'd like to know the name of the dictator before he puts me in the gulag.

You people are unbelievable.

WilburNether 3 years ago

And how about the union thugs? Does this Democrat bill apply to unions, which are huge contributors to the Democrat Party? Of course not. The hypocrisy of Hensley and Davis is laughable -- and utterly disgusting. This is a Democrat special interest bill, plain and simple, intended by them to create a heavily tilted playing field.

Melissa Carlson 3 years ago

Wrong on both points: Unions will never win on the same field as mega corporations. Union fundraising doesn't even come close to the special interest money from Koch or Coke, In the first nine months of 2011, Super PACs spent at least $12.9 million to influence candidates and constituents. Negating the Citizens United decision with a Constitutional Amendment is in EVERONE'S interest, regardless of party. In fact, isn't ridding Washington of special interests a rallying cry for the Tea Party? If you want your voice to be heard, if you support Democracy, you should join the move to Amend 2012.

Michael LoBurgio 3 years ago

Republicans believe corporations are people too, and are deserving of the same rights as the rest of us. Just not the same obligations to pay personal income tax free of corporate loopholes, or penalties for massive criminal behavior and tax evasion. In these matters, corporations are deserving of special rights.

And since corporations are now people too, you must believe in their right to a driver’s license, the right to marry, to adopt children, etc. These rights shall not be denied to Exxon, Halliburton and BP (but still immune from the right of the People to try, convict and sentence to death any corporation that conspires to commit a felony… because at that point, they’re suddenly not people again.)

cato_the_elder 3 years ago

With all of the whining Kansas Democrats have done about measures that Kansas Republicans have introduced that Democrats claim are merely quixotic, this one is a real laugher.

Peacemaker452 3 years ago

You are right, instead of a non-binding resolution they should have demanded a Constitutional Convention so the states could draft the ammendment themselves.

chootspa 3 years ago

They should have at least let a corporation give them the model legislation, first.

ThePilgrim 3 years ago

I agree with Cato the Elder on this one. When you look at it, the Kansas Legislature has a short session. Contrary to most people's thought, they don't work the entire year as the US Congress (if you call that work). Instead of spending each precious day of our State Legislative session on things that are important to the people of Kansas - like jobs and the economy, they create a non-binding resolution telling the US Congress that they don't like a Supreme Court ruling.

Scott Drummond 3 years ago

Yeah! Let's get back to the important stuff like where to put the completely unconstitutional holier than thou chapel and campaigning for a Vice President job in the Perry papacy, er Presidency.

Jeff Kilgore 3 years ago

But, but judge! I didn't commit fraud or extortion, bribery or corruption! It was the company! He's evil!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

There's been nothing more damaging to the democratic process than the absurdity that was the declaration of corporate personhood.

I think we need legislators who will press this issue every day that the legislature is in session.

grammaddy 3 years ago

I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.

Greg Cooper 3 years ago

You don't believe in anything except anti.

Greg Cooper 3 years ago

In reply to the removed post. No offense, grammaddy.

Liberty275 3 years ago

Why does it have to be texas? A lawrence business was recently executed for selling potpourri.

Liberty275 3 years ago

Why do they hate corprations while posting from a computer built by a corporation, using a CPU built by a corporation, using TCP/IP furnished by corporations on a forum owned by a corporation.

I'm as guilty of hating megacorporations as anyone, but I don't complain about them because I understand their necessity. How many hippy communes can pump out routers by the millions to direct traffic on the information superhighway?

Jeff Kilgore 3 years ago

I believe, with Republican help, I'll seek to have my goat Gypsy considered a person, and if so, I'll blame my many flaws on Gypsy. I'll call this scapegoating.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

If the purpose of denying a corporation "personhood" is to shut them up, then you're running afoul of the First Amendment. Is this denying of personhood going to include unions? Planned Parenthood? If my spouse and I make a combined contribution, will that also be outlawed? If two brothers named Smith wanted to combine their political contribution, would that be allowed? How about if the two brothers' name was Koch? If this passes, you may find that you've solved one problem, yet created another larger problem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"If the purpose of denying a corporation "personhood" is to shut them up,"

Corporations are not people-- is that so hard to understand? Since they aren't people, they can't speak.

The people who are behind this perversion of "corporate speech" have the same rights of free speech that anyone not hiding behind the corporate mask has. What's good enough for everyone else should be good enough for them as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

There was nothing "complicated" about his points. There were merely a muddying of the issue.

But I understand that in your world, hierarchical plutocracy is the highest ideal.

Greg Cooper 3 years ago

It's really very simple: the corporation (which is not a sentient being) is run by people (who, in most cases, are sentient beings) who make policy for the corporation. The thinking is not done by the corporation but by the person making policy. Ergo, the person is responsible for the policy and attendant actions by the corporation and should be responsible personally for anything espoused.

Why is this an issue? Because the Republican Party has no leadeship to give it direction and thus relies on dollars to make that policy. Therefore, the dollars are the power, and the corporation is the donor of the dollars. The unfortunate fact is that the Republican Party as it now stands has nothing to lend to the country but dollars.

jafs 3 years ago

The question is actually whether a corporation deserves the connotation "personhood" in the first place, and if so, why?

Any/all groups that are composed of people who are actually gathering together to express common views is a reasonable expression of 1st amendment rights, so all of your examples would be fine.

A corporation isn't that sort of group, unless the organization and design of it is political advocacy, for example, if the NRA decided to incorporate.

And, of course, closed shop unions wouldn't fit my definition either, since membership isn't voluntary.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

I think there is a certain assumption that rules that government imposes on corporations, things like taxes, work environment, etc., are things that any corporation has the right to lobby that government that is imposing those rules. So a corporation might be making widgets, but still has a legitimate reason to engage in political free speech. The political advocacy is certainly not the prime function of the corporation, yet it is a legitimate part of it.

jafs 3 years ago

The problem with that is that a corporation isn't a person, or even a collection of people with the same views on those issues.

So, whose opinion gets expressed? The CEO's? The Board of Directors, or a majority of them? The shareholders, or a majority of them, etc.?

I can pretty much guarantee that the shareholders of a large corporation have a wide variety of views on taxes, minimum wages, work environment, etc.

Seems to me that since all of the actual people involved have the right to engage in political advocacy, and to join in groups to do that as well, that the corporation itself doesn't need any separate right to speech.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

As I've stated before, a corporation has a legal, fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits. If, as a part of that legal responsibility, that includes lobbying government to (lower taxes, reduce environmental regulations, etc.) or (elect politicians likely to hold views that help your business) it could be argued that the CEO is doing what is legally mandated of him/her. (As we've discussed in the past, Jafs, I know you are opposed to that being the way fiduciary responsibilities are, but until the law changes, they need to behave in the way they are behaving). And given that corporations are established just they way they are, investors either know or should know that engaging in the political process is part of what the corporation does. They can make their investments accordingly.

jafs 3 years ago

That's a rather big "IF" there, it seems to me.

Corporate activity to maximize profits is an economic activity - engaging in political advocacy is a different kettle of fish.

Who makes up the "person" of a corporation? It's even hard to define that, because the idea is a bit off.

Corporations don't possess the faculty of speech, and only get the extended right to it as a group that gathers to pursue common expressive aims, in my view, which they aren't, except under specific circumstances.

Also, as I mentioned, there are a variety of different ideas about what will make our economy healthy - all of the shareholders may agree they want that, but disagree on how we should go about it.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

You've heard that old saying: "the medicine is worse than the disease". If I have a hangnail, I can cure it by cutting off my arm, but is that a good cure? Of course not. In this case, where will the denying of the rights of free speech go. Unions? Planned Parenthood? NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.? My wife and I making a combined contribution? A family trust?
We may not like the results of large scale contributions any more than we don't like an electorate that is not informed. But just as a literacy test might encourage more to become informed, or it might eliminate those who don't know what's going on, the fact is that the simple act of having a literacy test will probably cause more problems than it solves. Denying one group their freedom of speech will lead to another denial, then another. Then you and me.

jafs 3 years ago

Again, most of your examples are fine.

Unions, in which membership is voluntary, are a group combining to pursue common aims of advocacy. Closed shop unions wouldn't fit that definition.

As are the NRA, ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, etc.

The press has freedom of the press, and wouldn't be denied that based on any change to CU.

I just don't see any of the problems you're proposing happening - remember, in order to have freedom of speech, one must possess the faculty of speech. Corporations don't have that, unless we call them "legal persons", which is absurd, in my view.

The only actual result of changing CU, and reversing the idea of "legal corporate person-hood" would be that corporations aren't granted rights which don't rightly belong to them, in my view.

jafs 3 years ago

That's what I said.

Closed shop unions aren't voluntary, and thus cannot claim to be a collective expression of their members' views.

Only groups that are voluntary, and are organized around being an advocacy group, have that ability.

If the UAW operates with mandatory membership and dues paying, then it stands to reason that there are many people paying dues to it who may disagree with their advocacy, and can't simply stop being a member as a result.

That is what would disqualify it from being a "collective expression" of the members, who pay dues to the organization.

jafs 3 years ago

That's what I said.

The only way in which groups can express the collective views of their members is if they actually do that, and the only way in which groups can claim to be engaging in "free speech" is if they're speaking as a collective voice, in my view.

But, a voluntary union would still possess that ability, in my view, even if the employer, being a corporation doesn't.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

"one must possess the faculty of speech" - While that sounds logical, it's not true. The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman's right to dance naked on a pole is found in her freedom of speech. She doesn't have to have the ability to speak at all. Several of our freedoms are found hidden within other meanings. Abortion was found in privacy, just as another example. The disabled might not be able to speak, they can vote, can't they? They can express themselves in political free speech, can't they. BTW - Membership is a publicly traded corporation (a distinction I should have made earlier) is voluntary, is it not?

jafs 3 years ago

They can rule that - that doesn't mean I have to agree, right?

Just as I don't agree with CU.

Dancing naked on a pole is not speech, it's some sort of expressive behavior. Do corporations possess the right to dance naked on a pole, since that's speech? Oh wait, that's impossible, because they're not people.

Whether or not abortion is correctly understood as an issue of privacy, and whether or not privacy is a fundamentally protected constitutional right are open to debate - many people feel those decisions were wrong as well.

Voting is not speech, it's an expression of our right to vote.

When we make terms too loose, they tend to lose their meaning, and I think that's a mistake.

Yes, of course it's voluntary to invest in a company, however, the reasons that one invests in the company are economic rather than political.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Yes, you may disagree with the Supreme Court. I do as well, sometimes. That said, until the law is changed, it's best to preface one's opposition as a statement of opinion, lest we become confused into thinking that what corporations are doing is in fact illegal.
Why do people invest in corporations? I know why I might and I know why I might not. But I can only speculate as to why you, or anyone else might invest in a particular corporation.

jafs 3 years ago

I never said it was illegal - I said it was wrong, and that I disagreed with the idea that corporations possess constitutional rights as separate entities.

Investing, by it's very definition, is an economic activity.

My dictionary says "To commit money in order to earn a financial return".

There may be other reasons that people include along with those, but it's primarily economic by definition.

tomatogrower 3 years ago

Isn't the Shell Oil Corporations trying to say they can't be sued over a certain law, because they are a corporation not a person? Can't have it both ways.

JackMcKee 3 years ago

it's not tilting at windmills. The legal basis for Citizens is logical, but the outcome is harmful and wildly unpopular. Our Constitution provides us with a remedy. Only the most deranged wingnut would consider this quixotic.

jafs 3 years ago

One problem is that CU didn't grant personhood, that was done some time ago, in the 1800's.

Also, it's very difficult to pass a constitutional amendment at the federal level.

But, I agree that this is the remedy provided for the people to overturn SC decisions, and so it's the right way to go about that.

kansanbygrace 3 years ago

It is not logical to fabricate an abstract entity to insulate individuals from the consequences of their own business practices and then give that entity independent and unaccountable power exceeding that of any citizen. Agree with the rest of your statement, apart from the hyperbolic name-calling.

JackMcKee 3 years ago

I was actually responding to Cato. However , it could also be a deranged libertarian.

As for Constitutional Amendments, they have all been initiated in Congress. The next step is approval by the states. That's a quick civics lesson for you Jafs.

jafs 3 years ago

Boy, another person who can't be civil - what's wrong with our society?

Of course, the states have to ratify it, by a rather large percentage - that's what makes it so difficult.

JackMcKee 3 years ago

I think a bigger problem is people being overly sensitive. There was nothing uncivil intended in my post.

Peacemaker452 3 years ago

Actually, the states could force a Constitutional Convention. If 34 states demanded one the federal government has no choice. Congress can only decide if the convention itself or the state legislatures will ratify any proposed amendments. The convention could produce an amendment that reduced the Constitution to a sticky note that said “Be Nice” and there is nothing any part of the federal government could do about it.

JackMcKee 3 years ago

That's true, but that's never happened.

Getaroom 3 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Getaroom 3 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

The problem isn't that corporations, unions, etc. are spending huge sums of money to influence the political process. The problem is that the voters are gullible enough to vote based on a series of 30 second sound bites. The problem is that only slightly more than half of eligible voters even participate in presidential elections and as little as 15%-20% participate in local elections. The problem is that the other 80%-85% aren't even aware enough of the issues to cast an informed ballot. We're in the process of getting the government we deserve.

jafs 3 years ago

Those are all problems, in my view.

The latter ones don't eliminate the former, for me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

When will some state grant personhood to cheeseburgers? After all, once digested, portions thereof will become sperm or egg, and therefore is sacred, no?

TinmanKC 3 years ago

I want to see the corporation's birth certificates!

BenDoubleCrossed 3 years ago

Employees of media corporations are exempt from campaign laws. I would appreciate if broadcast talking heads and print journalists would explain why their audiences should not enjoy the same exemption?

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms applied only to flesh and blood citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms of speech and the press.

From 1974 to present only commercial media enjoy unrestricted freedoms. Congress amended FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

But what is the difference between slanted news stories or editorial opinions and political ads?

The media’s cries crocodile tears. If they carried political ads, as a public service, it would greatly reduce the need for money in politics! But media makes billions off campaign ads.

The 1st Amendment is not a loophole in campaign laws.

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To restore equal protection under law the press exemption must be extended to citizens and groups!

The NRA bought a radio station. Should citizens have to buy a radio station to speak or a newspaper to print their views?

boltzmann 3 years ago

"The resolution urges Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood by establishing that the term “person” refers only to naturally born persons."

Somehow I think that the authors of this have never read MacBeth.

camper 3 years ago

Personhood is sometimes referred to as "Legal Entity". There is a good and bad aspect to this. All one need do is take a look at fines and pending lawsuits imposed on large corporations. In many cases there is a form of limited legal liability for the managers who make decisions that are illegal or would warrant a lawsuit or fine. It is wrong when cost to benefit analysis is done on the risk of fine vs. doing the right thing.

pace 3 years ago

I disagree, many people think you are a psychopathic stalker, don't present the opinion as one lone voice.

yourworstnightmare 3 years ago

There are two issues here. The first is that corporations (and unions) are not people. People run them. They are organizations of people. Corporations and unions cannot speak. Only their members can.

The second is the issue of campaign donations equaling speech. This is the real constitutional question.

Limiting campaign contributions from unions and corporations should have nothing to do with the constitution, as they are not human beings.

However, the issue of campaign contributions from individuals is another matter, and hinges upon the base that money equals speech, which seems to be the consensus in out judicial system now.

pace 3 years ago

Corporations should not have the same recognition of civil rights as a citizen. It needs to be over turned. Corporations should have rights and responsibilities but no, a corporation should not have the same standing as a citizen.

camper 3 years ago

When a corporation breaks the law, it is fined. This is often viewed as merely the cost of doing business.

Real persons can go to jail. This is the difference in my mind.

KU52 3 years ago

The problem is quite simple. People were created by natural forces (God, if you prefer). Corporations were created by people through enactment of laws by their Government. So, Corporations exist only as long as the the Government allows. How then do they deserve the "inalienable rights" "endowed by our Creator" or the freedom of speech embodied in our Constitution? Obviously they do not!

Some people believe that Corporations should control Government (as they do now to a large extent). Others of us believe that Corporations should be controlled by the Government that allows them (their Creator). Isn't that simple?

Armstrong 3 years ago

So like the liberal haters to discriminate against test tube babies, c-section babies, and can adopted kids really prove they were naturally born ? Hmmm. I have issue with this bigotry towards " people"

Getaroom 3 years ago

Influence peddling on a grand scale. Does PB Oil ring any bells, they have freedom of speech. By the way you lovely 'hoodedpersons', how did that election turn out for you GE, BP, NRA, Big Pharma.....? like the way those 'donations' worked out for ya?

But truly, here are puzzles to ponder:

Does a Corporation( a file in the cabinet of a corporate headquarters), wishing to influence the outcome of an election and having great monetary resources make any difference in how a Democracy functions and should Corporations(a file in a folder) be allowed the same one person-one-vote status and influence, as individuals with beating hearts and voter ID's? Are those two things the same? Can you hear God taking in Brownbacks and Santorums ears right now, giving them the correct answers to the test?

Is an individual human with a vote - equal to a Corporation proclaimed to be a person, the same thing?

Does one person voting in an election have the same and equal influence in an election as does a Corporation acting as a person and contributing millions of bucks to a campaign? I know that is really a tough one. Pray for an answer, WWJD?

The answer to these questions perplex only the guilty, who desire and support greater Corporate control in the daily lives of Americans, whom by the way believed they lived in a Democracy and not a Plutocracy. But to settle this once and for all and one vote at a time, The "United States of America" is holding an election day mixer party on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012. Join the fun, vote, get your 'I voted' sticker and decide your fate as a citizen of the United States of Corporate America, or as a citizen of the United States of America, perhaps minus those Southern states that seceded from the union and to go it on their 'own'. No more handouts from Uncle Sam!! Think NASCAR, Confederate flags. Now that is the America The Tea Party wants back - pass the PBR! Don't despair, Elvis lives ..... in the heart of Corporate America!!! Flags waving here please..... from a source....

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