Corporations given unprecedented rights by US Supreme Court today.

Horrible move by the Supreme Court today which gives corporations unprecedented “free speech” rights in contributing money to political campaigns.   Treating corporations as humans in this way is a really bad idea.  Here is an article from Third World Traveler that addresses this issue.  Check it out:

It is time to rethink the notion of free speech for corporations.

Free speech guarantees are supposed to ensure vibrant civic debate, but it is corporations that dominate the public debate which should be the province of an engaged citizenry. Corporations take advantage of the speech rights which the Supreme Court says the Constitution provides to them, to dominate the campaign funding process, drown out citizen speech, contest advertising restrictions and block citizen organizing.

Corporations also now pose an increasingly serious, direct threat to citizens’ speech. Corporations intimidate citizens from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed speech rights with SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation), which threaten activists with massive liability for speaking out against corporate wrongdoing. In SLAPPs, corporations charge activists with libel or slander or similar claims for criticizing the company. Corporations know they will lose the vast majority of SLAPPs, but they also know that time and expense involved in defending against a suit will distract the defendants and deter others from exercising their speech rights.

Now a new set of speech deterring “veggie-libel” laws- drafted by and shepherded through state legislatures by agribusiness interests-is exacerbating the problem by providing a statutory cause of action for corporations to employ against people who publicly criticize the safety of the food supply.

At the same time, corporations have evolved a new set of tools to shield from public scrutiny critical information stored in corporate records rooms. Environmental audit laws permit companies to conceal internal documents that show how the companies are damaging the environment [see “The Corporate Right to Cover Up”]. And corporations are increasingly relying on secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements to prevent information discovered in consumer suits about dangerous products from being made public.

In sum, citizens’ effective free speech protections are being squeezed by big corporations, while big corporations arc gaining and exercising an ever-expanding panoply of speech rights, as well as the right to conceal of information of critical public interest.

Through a sort of “rights creep,” corporations over the last two decades have steadily expanded their legal entitlements. Corporations are increasingly treated in the law as if they were people, or deserving of even greater rights than people.

Corporations, however, have resources far beyond those available to real persons, and giving corporations the right to contribute to issue advertising campaigns, for example, ensures the corporate point of view will be able to overwhelm citizen perspectives. Corporations also benefit from a host of characteristics – limited liability, perpetual life, inability to be imprisoned-that advantage them over people in economic and political contests and that immunize them from many of society’s sanctions.

But the most important point is the most obvious: corporations are not, in fact, people. They are socially created institutions which were designed to, and should be made to, serve society’s interests.

Since democracy is supposed to be rule by the people, not by corporations, corporations should only receive democracy’s bedrock rights to the extent it furthers, or at least does not interfere with, civic power. They should not have a “right” to make political contributions or participate in the political process. They should not have “rights” to advertise. Their “right” to remain silent should never trump citizen interests in conveying information.

Since corporations are not people, they should never be able to bring defamation, slander or libel claims against real people, and certainly not against those who speak from non-economic motives. Injuries to a person’s reputation touch on person’s standing in the community and dignity; harms to ~ company’s goodwill are matters of economics. The idea that a corporation could sue a person for “disparaging” a food product should be laughed out of state and court houses across the United States.

And since corporations are not people, their “privacy rights” or similar privileges should, in general, be subordinate to the public’s right to know. Legal maneuvers such as secrecy agreements and environmental audit privileges should be banned. Corporations should not have the “right” to conceal information that could prevent the infliction of injury or disease.

“Rights” are the expression of a people’s or a constituency’s hard-won political gains, etched into democracy’s tablet of fundamental rules. Simultaneously, rolling back rights diminishes a constituency’s power. For the last two-and-a-half decades, corporations have won most of the important political conflicts in the United States, as well as around the world. It is time for citizens to organize and mobilize to reverse the corporate winning streak …


16 Responses to “Corporations given unprecedented rights by US Supreme Court today.”

  1. 2 Kevin February 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Well, that’s officially that. The Republic is dead.

  2. 3 Forest Simmons February 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    … and the Empire is in its final throes: see

    This article leads right into chapter 22 of the first book of Nephi.

    The whole outlook is very bleak and grim for those who don’t have the perspective of Isaiah, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, etc.

    Fortunately, according to the scriptures the Lord is going to “make bare his Holy Arm,” and intervene in the affairs of men, so that the “prey of the mighty” might be delivered:

    Isa. 49: 24-25 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
    25 But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

    Nephi quotes this word for word in 1 Ne. 21: 24-25

    and then paraphrases it in

    2 Ne. 6: 16-17 For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
    17 But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people…

    The Lord will deliver the meek and humble by bringing down the empire of the high and mighty that have had such a military and economic stranglehold on the rest of the world, even though they think they are invincible:

    Isa. 10: 14 And [says corporate America] my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
    [Quoted by Nephi in 2 Ne. 20: 14]


    2 Ne. 27: 27 (compare Isaiah 29:16). And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?

    The “turning of things upside down” referrs to the Lord’s promise that the high nd mighty shall be brought down, and the meek and lowly shall be exalted. Notice also that is the theme of the beatitudes, reversing all of the received wisdom.

    3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit …
    4 And again, blessed are all they that mourn…
    5 And blessed are the meek…
    6 And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst…
    7 And blessed are the merciful…
    8 And blessed are all the pure in heart…
    9 And blessed are all the peacemakers…
    10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake…
    11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;

    In other words, things are about to be turned upside down, so that the traditional underdogs, the meek, the poor, the hungry, those who sue for peace, the persecuted and reviled, etc. finally will be exalted over the rich, strong and powerful.

    More of the turning of things upside down is foretold by the formula …

    “…it hath been said by them of old time … but I say unto you …”

    That’s liberation theology; and if we have no hope in this promised liberation, then “we of all men are most miserable.”

  3. 4 theradicalmormon February 14, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I appreciate your comments Forest. With all of the misery I see around me with people unemployed and in all sorts of economic trouble, I have nearly forgotten the joy I used to feel that the system created by (or at least hijacked by) the secret combinations is doomed to fail as we have in Revelation 18:

    2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils…
    3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

    These are the fruits of the secret combinations of our day. What is our counsel from the Lord?

    4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
    5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
    6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

    We are to have no part of this movement. We are to throw away the membership cards we hold for the Gadianton Society because what is going to happen to her?

    8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
    9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
    10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
    11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
    12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
    13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
    14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
    15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
    16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
    17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
    18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
    19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

    The merchants of the earth and all of those who partook with her will mourn. But are we to mourn with them? Besides, isn’t that which we most treasure trampled on by her?

    24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

    Therefore, we should…

    20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

    I am not happy for my brothers and sisters who endure hardships, but if we can view this difficulty from the viewpoint of the Lord, we can indeed have hope.

  4. 5 Forest Simmons February 18, 2010 at 3:15 am

    These passages that once seemed so mysterious are becoming more and more obvious.

    I just finished reading Thomas Frank’s book, “The Wrecking Crew,” which gives a detailed look at how monied interests have gotten more and more entrenched in Washington, D C, purposely creating great debt and government failure so that more and more privatization of public resources will be seen as inevitable. The above quote from Revelation 18 would make a fitting epilogue.

    The conservative idealogues that form the “wrecking crew” view the Market Place as the one and only infallible god.

    Economic might makes right, by definition in their view.

    What we see as corruption they see as the beneficial market response to bad laws, namely government attempts to regulate the market place. Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and crew, though in jail, are still the heroes of the movement, whose most frank spokesman is Grover Norquist.

  5. 6 Forest Simmons February 18, 2010 at 3:26 am

    In their view the Mariana Islands are a showcase of free market success, never mind the horrible working conditions; if people don’t like the working conditions, let them work elsewhere.

    Never mind the violent coercive measures against union organizing, the ones with the most money for buying up swat teams are supposed to win; that’s the infallible verdict of the invisible hand.

    You get the picture.

    Here are some additional passages about the destruction of the whore of all the earth:

    Ne. 22: 13-14
    13 And the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood.
    14 And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.

    Ne. 28: 18
    18 But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.
    D&C 29: 21
    21 And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, who spoke of these things, which have not come to pass but surely must, as I live, for abominations shall not reign.

    D&C 88: 94
    94 And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it.

  6. 7 Forest Simmons February 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Here’s another passage about the same finale:

    Ne. 11: 36
    36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

    These passages together make it pretty clear that the Great and Spacious Building, The Great and Abominable Church, the Church of the Devil, Babylon the Great, the Whore of All the Earth, Churches built up to get power and gain,etc. are all synonyms for the system that says “Might makes Right.”

    And “might” refers to police and military power bought and controlled by economic might, especially as an infestation of the great Gentile nation of the latter days.

  7. 8 Joseph February 19, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I’ve enjoyed all of this information. Now I just need to process it. It will be interesting to see how much longer things hold up. Of course in the Lord’s view, not very long.

  8. 9 Forest Simmons February 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I would like to see some suggestions of how to best adapt the following well known, commonly accepted sayings to the economic realm:

    (1) Might does not make right.

    (2) Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

    Here’s a few attempts:

    Your corporate right to yell ends where my ear plugs explode.

    Your “invisible hand” has no right to slap my family around.

    Economic might does not justify economic tyranny.

    One million dollars, one vote, is a far cry from one person, one vote.

  9. 10 gomw February 23, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Control of the market means the market is not free.

  10. 11 Joseph February 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Corporations do not have to be given the same freedoms as people for the market to free. Corporate “personhood” is a legal fiction that is totally unnecessary for capitalism.

    Beyond that, I don’t really believe the market has to be free anyway. The revelations Joseph Smith brought forth are an important part of my world-view, thus I’m here visiting the Radical Mormon. While Joseph Smith himself may have spoken favorably of free markets (though I think many of these instances are taken out of context), his revelations do not. The only person in the scriptures who speaks positively of free markets is Cain when he says “I am FREE; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands” (Moses 5:33, emphasis added). Last time I checked, Cain wasn’t really supposed to be held up as a role model. Oh, and of course there’s Korihor saying that everyone fares in this life “according to the management of the creature” (Social Darwinism) and criticizes the priests for not letting the people “make use of that which is their own” (i.e., they won’t let them do whatever they want with their property). Again, Korihor was not really presented as one of the good guys in the Book of Mormon, and in fact is trampled to death as a result of people putting into practice his own teachings. So is there anyone righteous in the scriptures who speak in favor of the unfettered market?

  11. 12 theradicalmormon February 23, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Good points Joseph. I’ve struggled with this concept a lot throught the years. Restricting commerce is something that my fellow church members seem to get pretty excited about. They like to label as “socialist” anything that regulates markets and seem to fear the word “socialism” as representing a continuation of Satan’s plan of salvation in the premortal existence. To me though, I don’t really see yet, or at least noone has been able to show me (in spite of my participation in numerous discussions with a lot of passionate and articulate people) that rules that regulate the flow of money, or taxes or trade restrictions or in any way hinder how rich a person can get… are any different from other types of rules that lead to an orderly society and keep us safe.
    It is interesting that you bring up Cain here. I don’t know if many recognize that it was in large part, greed and covetousness that led to Cain’s murder of his brother. He became Master Mahan and from that time secret combinations took the dominion that the Lord gave to Adam and usurped it as they took the free lunch given to man and hoarded it to themselves.
    A good example of the “free market” in the scriptures is found in 4 Nephi:

    46 And it came to pass that the robbers of Gadianton did spread over all the face of the land; and there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus. And gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic.

    Interesting, isn’t it, that this mention of the free market comes as a part of the description of the secret combinations of that time.

  12. 13 Forest Simmons February 25, 2010 at 3:06 am

    This phrase

    “they took the free lunch given to man and hoarded it to themselves”

    reminds me of the lesson of the mana that kept the children of Israel alive in the wilderness for forty years. Each morning they gathered their daily bread, i.e. their free lunch, the mana freely provided for them on the ground like hoar frost. They soon found that it did no good to try hoarding it since there was no way to keep it from spoiling. So the strong were unable to hoard it in order to compel the weak to serve them.

    You can hoard mammon (money) but you cannot hoard mana. Jesus said that he was the bread of life or the mana sent from heaven. Do we worship the mana that was sent from heaven? Or do we serve mammon.

  13. 14 Forest Simmons February 25, 2010 at 3:53 am

    It seems to me that markets are just one more tool of the devil (he has many) for concentrating wealth and power into the hands of the unscrupulous, thereby compromising the freedom of the vast majority of people.

    Anybody that has played the game of monopoly can recognize this dynamic in action if he has a brain in his head.

    Reverence for markets is pernicious, superstitious idolatry.

    The invisible hand that is supposed to benevolently guide the market for the benefit of mankind is the devil’s counterfeit of the Holy Ghost. It is the hand that guides markets to poison our air and water, adulterate our food supply, and set countries at war with each other for the benefit of the military contractors and other war profiteers.

    Come ye out of Babylon! Don’t touch her filthy lucre, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord!

  14. 15 Forest Simmons February 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    “Free markets” have become the arenas for economic bullies to throw their bloated weight around and Lord it over everybody else.

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