Jan. 21 marks an important day in the history of our country. Today will not only be Martin Luther King Day, it will also be the third anniversary of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The legal “logic” that led to this decision, claiming that corporations are entitled to constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, has led to results that extend beyond the unprecedented amount of spending in recent elections.
The “citizenship” status of corporations has made it possible for the 14th Amendment, intended to grant equal protection to freed slaves, to be used for the benefit of corporations. According to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, more than 50 percent of the 14th Amendment cases heard by the Supreme Court in the first 50 years after the amendment’s adoption asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.
The idea of corporate “personhood” is a danger to our democracy, and it is time to make clear what most Americans agree on: Corporations are not entitled to the inalienable rights granted to human beings in the Constitution.
I thank Akron City Council for joining other communities across the country in passing a resolution to amend the Constitution to spell out that corporations are not people.
In honor of Martin Luther King’s work to protect the equal rights of human beings, let your county, state and national representatives know that equal rights are for humans, not corporations.
Hallie M. Bowie