For Immediate Release: September 30, 2020

Contacts: John Fioretta, [email protected] or Jan Rein, [email protected] 

Climate Crisis-Related Fires Fueled by Corporate Constitutional Rights

Supreme Court-invented corporate constitutional rights have fueled the ever increasing devastation of raging fires in the American West. For decades fossil fuel  industry leaders have weaponized their so-called constitutional rights to avoid accountability for covering up the threat of  fossil fuel emissions and to evade regulations to prevent the harm they inflict.

The existential climate crisis was virtually ignored during last night’s Presidential debate. But voters are living with the harmful consequence of corporate constitutional rights that  allow the fossil fuel and utility industries to buy politicians, write our policies, hide their records and sue anyone who tries to regulate them.

A new three-part series, The Case Against Corporate Rights, by Move to Amend’s Law & Research Committee, illustrates, with case-law examples, how corporate constitutional rights  allow corporations to inflict harm on people, families, communities, the environment and democracy itself. These harms fall most heavily on poor communities, communities of color and our youth who are most threatened by climate change.

The series counters the common perception that corporate harms are due to a few "bad apple" corporate entities and/or CEOs and that the scale of change required to remedy the scale of corporate rule can be achieved through the passage or a law, creation of a regulation, or election of one or more persons. 

Part III of the series describes how corporations have fueled the raging climate crisis,  by covering up their false denial of climate change and invoking numerous corporate constitutional rights as legal defenses for these cover-ups and the resulting damages. These include the 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments and other parts of the constitution.

Part I of the series addresses how corporate constitutional rights have no legal basis and negatively affect property rights, environmental protection, worker safety, and community health.

Part II of the series provides specific examples how corporate constitutional rights allow corporations the “right” not to speak and how commercial speech rights conceal important information from consumers and employees, and expose children to tobacco. 

“Since the late 1880s, the unelected judges of our Supreme Court have hijacked the U.S. constitution to invent corporate constitutional rights that allow  business corporations to put profit over people and the planet,” said Jan Rein, retired law professor and Co-Chair of Move to Amend’s Law & Research Committee. “This pernicious court-created corporate constitutional rights doctrine is a direct assault on entire ecosystems, unwilling individuals and communities and threatens everything we hold dear. Our hard won individual freedoms are lost when the institutions we created rule us, the legitimate rulers. Move to Amend’s constitutional amendment will abolish this illegitimate doctrine and enable ‘we the people’  to end corporate rule and to create a democracy that serves the people, not corporate interests.”

“Climate change provides a good example of how so-called corporate constitutional rights have been abused,” added Co-Chair and former prosecutor John Fioretta. “Major fossil fuel corporations knew decades ago that climate change was real and would have devastating consequences if left unchecked. Yet they hid, misrepresented, and denied this science, putting their bottom-line over the health and safety of people and the planet. Now they want to avoid liability for these actions using their purported constitutional rights. We need a constitutional amendment to prevent them from getting away with it and to prevent right-wing Supreme Court justices from approving such a travesty of justice.”

The Case Against Corporate Constitutional Rights three-part series is at

Move to Amend is the main organizational catalyst of the We the People Amendment (H.J.R. 48), a constitutional amendment that would abolish all corporate constitutional rights and end the legal doctrine that political money spent in elections is First Amendment-protected free speech. The proposed Amendment, sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has 74 House co-sponsors. More than 600 political jurisdictions across the nation have passed resolutions or citizen-driven ballot initiatives calling for the amendment.

For more information about Move to Amend, email [email protected] or call 916-318-8040.



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