Move to Amend's advocates and affiliate groups raise local awareness about the nature of corporate rule and participatory democracy. Organizers connect the intersections between corporate rule and the issues most important to the community through petitioning and tabling public events, organizing public talks and forums, teach-ins, rallies, and presentations with community members and other groups to get their support.
Below are a list of educational presentations and resources provided by our grassroots leaders to help educate, agitate, and empower their communities to take action:
Timeline of Personhood Rights & Powers
Congressional Legislative Staff Briefing
This presentation was developed for the Legislative Staff briefing on December 14, 2021
Move to Amend Climate Workshop Presentation
This was a presentation developed for the 2017 People's Climate March to tie the links between corporate constitutional rights to Environmental deregulation and climate change, highlighting the need to eliminate corporate constitutional rights if we wish to protect our environment. This resources was produced by Jan Rein and Kimmy Boyle of Sacramento Area Move to Amend.
Women's Rights vs. Corporate Rights Presentation
This is an outline for a presentation given by Sacramento Area Move to Amend to a women's "huddle" group that was created after the 2017 Women's March. The presentation briefly explains the history of corporate constitutional rights and the Supreme Court cases that have lead to inherent and inalienable rights for artificial entities, with a specific emphasis on women's rights vs corporate rights. It also provides a brief look into Move to Amend's work and offers suggestions for how individuals and organizations can partner with us and support the We The People Amendment.
This group was located in Fair Oaks, CA, so some of the information may need to be adjusted to fit your locality or state.
Move to Amend Introductory Presentation
A PowerPoint introduction to Move to Amend presentation submitted by Robert Pethoud of the Fresno Move to Amend Affiliate.
Questions: contact Robert at [email protected]
Constitution Day Presentation
Each year, educational institutions which receive federal funding must provide programming on the US Constitution around September 17th, Constitution Day. This provides Move to Amend an opportunity to make connections with educators, administrators, and students, and talk about the process of amending the Constitution as a way to make change. We encourage Move to Amend supporters and affiliates to reach out to the schools in your community, and offer to provide materials or present to their classrooms!
If you have any questions, contact Jessica Munger at [email protected] or by phone at 916-318-8040.
League of Women Voters Presentation
This presentation was prepared for Move to Amend volunteers to use when doing presentations for the League of Women Voters as they are studying the impact of money in politics in order to determine whether to take a position on a Constitutional amendment.
This presentation is also great for other groups as well. The attachments include the powerpoint slides as well as presenter's notes.
It was prepared by Move to Amend Spring 2015 interns Naomi Peña and Geoff Blackwell with input and help from our Saint Paul, MN affiliate as well.
Rights & Privileges Timeline Exercise
This interactive presentation was prepared by Ashley Sanders of Move to Amend Salt Lake City & Move to Amend's National Leadership Team to make the connection between personhood, law, rights and privileges and to help people understand why Move to Amend’s fight must include a commitment to dismantle racism in order to be fully effective.
Unitarian Universalist Presentation
A presentation prepared by Dr. John Goodman of the California Clean Money Campaign and Los Angeles Move to Amend for a local Unitarian Universalist group in March 2012.
Intro to Corporate Personhood
What Corporate Personhood is, what the implications are, and a quick overview of the cases that shaped this legal doctrine. Citizens United is only the most recent chapter of this sordid story...
- MTA Coalition (quick refresher)
- Corporate Personhood Presentation
- Take Action
- Website Announcements
- Next Steps
Abolish Corporate Personhood Talk
Every reform effort or legislation can be questioned by raising the specter of “unintended consequences.” So, too, House Joint Resolution 48. But it only eliminates corporate constitutional rights (CCRs) that We The People never granted to corporations. Below are some of the alleged unintended consequences of the We The People Amendment and Move to Amend’s responses.
1. "Eliminating CCRs would cause huge financial disruption of the American economy."
Corporations did not have or need CCRs to become the most powerful and dominant economic institutions in the 1800’s. Their size and influence have only grown since then. If eliminating CCRs caused any economic angst, Congress and/or the States can enact appropriate legislation to address specific problems. Financial disruption does not appear to be an issue.
2. "Eliminating CCRs would subject corporations to government overreach."
Per state statute, corporations already have the right to sue in a court of law to protect their interests. Existing federal and state statutes already protect corporations from unlawful searches and seizures, e.g., California Penal Code, Title 12, Chapter 3 (search warrants); United States Code, Title 18, Chapters 109, 205 (searches and seizures). Under HJR 48 corporate shareholders, officers, and employees, as well as association members, all retain their rights as individuals, so no legitimate rights will be lost.
3. "Eliminating CCRs would result in corporations being forced to disclose proprietary Information."
Trade secrets are protected by both federal and state laws. The federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which most states have passed. The former provides protections of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, and engineering related trade secrets if the owner has taken basic measures to keep such information secret.
4. "Eliminating CCRs would jeopardize non-profit corporations and associations."
Each of the rights the Supreme Court has created for corporations (Equal Protection & Due Process [14th Amend.], No surprise inspections/searches [4th Amend.], Due Process and compensation for government takings [5th Amend.] Political and commercial speech & “right not to speak [1st Amend.], Jury trial in criminal case [6th Amend.], Freedom from double jeopardy [5th Amend.], and Jury trial in civil case [7th Amend.] could be conferred statutorily on for-profit or non-profit corporations by Congress or the States.
5. "Eliminating CCRs would make non-profits such as Planned Parenthood subject to unreasonable searches and seizures."
Even absent statutory protections the U.S. Supreme Court has already recognized the right of corporations to represent their members' constitutional rights under appropriate circumstances. In NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) the Alabama attorney general obtained an injunction against the Alabama branch of the NAACP for violating that state's incorporation laws and sought information including the names and addresses of its members. The NAACP complied with the AG's demands except for providing the membership information. This occurred at the height of the Civil Rights movement.
The Supreme Court found the NAACP as a non-profit corporation did not itself have the right to object to the AG's demand, but it had the right to assert its members' rights where they could not assert their rights themselves without giving up those same rights (i.e., identify themselves). See pp. 458-459. So even under this worst case scenario a non-profit would not need CCRs, but could assert its members' rights to protect them and their rights.
See Why Non-Profit Corporations Do Not Have, Deserve or Need Constitutional Rights for more information.
Contrast the preceding hypothetical and unfounded consequences with just a few of the known and highly detrimental consequences of CCRs:
Corporate political spending is 1st Amendment "political speech."
The result: The 2008 Great Recession nearly brought down the U.S. economy, caused in part by corporate political campaign contributions. Shielded as First Amendment-protected “free speech,” that corporate lobbying resulted in repeal of many market protections such as the Glass-Steagall Act. Corporate profits greatly increased but many people lost their homes and retirement savings. Buckley v. Valeo (1976).
Corporations have a 1st Amendment right not to speak.
The result: A federal Court prevented the National Labor Relations Board from ordering businesses to post a rule at the workplace, thus making it more difficult to inform workers of their rights while employers can post anything as long as it does not contain a threat or promise of benefit. National Assoc’n of Manufacturers v. NLRB (2013).
Corporations have 4th Amendment protections.
The result: Governmental attempts to protect the public from a plethora of dangers stemming from private commercial activities (e.g., food contamination, drug impurities, automobile and airplane defects, dangerous conditions, worker safety violations, and environmental hazards) are thwarted by eliminating surprise inspections. Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc. (1978).
Corporations have 5th Amendment protections.
The result: Certain regulations enacted by a State against corporations are “regulatory takings” and illegal without just compensation -- not instances of legitimate examples of using its police power to protect public health, safety and welfare. Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon (1922).
Corporations have a legal mandate to maximize profit for shareholders. It is our elected official’s responsibility to protect the economy, the environment and the public. Public welfare requires us to reign in unchecked corporations that have hijacked the Constitution and our legal system which has made it impossible to hold them legally responsible without an amendment to the Constitution to make clear that their proper place is accountable to the government and the people.
Move to Amend believes the real danger that desperately requires redress are the actual, known consequences of CCRs wrought by large and wealthy corporations. In fact, we have a bigger problem if we do not act to curtail corporate power.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.”
Each year, educational institutions which receive federal funding must provide programming on the US Constitution around September 17th, Constitution Day. This provides Move to Amend an opportunity to make connections with educators, administrators, and students, and talk about the process of amending the Constitution as a way to make change. We encourage Move to Amend supporters and affiliates to reach out to the schools in your community and offer to provide materials or present to their classrooms!
There are many ways to use this opportunity:
Offer to give a presentation in a classroom and talk about corporate constitutional rights.
- Offer Legalize Democracy to teachers to show in class and offer to lead a discussion.
- Use the interactive timeline presentation (adapted below for a classroom experience) to get students thinking about rights and social change in a constitutional context.
If you have any questions, contact Greg Coleridge at [email protected] or 916-318-8040.
Suggested timeline for communicating with the school faculty
Sample Letter to present to educators/administrators
Timeline exercise to present to students (with an adjusted version for high school students)
Instructions/tips for presenting
Discussion and debrief questions for students
Follow up suggestions and materials for ongoing learning
We suggest this timeline for contacting schools, in order to give teachers enough time to plan to do this programming.
This letter can be used to introduce yourself to educators and explain what you hope to do. To add your affiliate contact information, make a copy (upper right-hand corner of the template, click “File” --> “Make a copy”) and add the information where you’re prompted and customize the letter in your personal copy of this document.
Rights and Privileges Timeline Exercise:
The Rights and Privileges Timeline is a great exercise for students because it involves the class in examining injustice and corporate power, includes movement and requires participation. This adaptation has been adjusted from the original presentation to suit a shorter amount of time so the presenter can get through the whole exercise in one class period with discussion and debrief.
You can watch the video of the full length, original exercise: Click here.
Print these cards (one sheet per case, not double sided) for the exercise. it works best if you print each timeline on a different color paper:
Here are some questions that might help debrief the information covered in the timeline. Keep in mind that the timeline exercise can be emotional for many people and often presents new (and potentially disturbing) information. Students may want to share feelings or talk through what they just learned.
Follow Up/ Call to Action:
Here is a list of follow up action items that students may be interested in. To add your affiliate contact information, make a copy (upper right-hand corner, click “File” --> “Make a copy”) and add the information where you’re prompted, and any other affiliate specific action items (invitations to upcoming events, etc).
CORPORATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
Key Non-1st Amendment “Right to Speak” Supreme Court Decisions
1819 Dartmouth College v. Woodward
A corporate charter is ruled to be a contract and can't be altered by government. The word “corporation” does not appear in the Constitution and this ruling gave the corporation a standing in the Constitution. It also made it difficult for the government to control corporations, so states began to write controls into the charters they granted. The Supreme Court had “found” the corporation in the Constitution.
1882 The Railroad Tax Cases
In one of these cases, San Mateo County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, it was argued that corporations were persons and that the committee drafting the 14th Amendment had intended the word person to mean corporations as well as natural persons. Senator Roscoe Conkling waved an unknown document in the air and then read from it in an attempt to prove that the intent of the Joint Committee was for corporate personhood. The court did not rule on corporate personhood, but this is the case in which they heard the argument.
1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad
“The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.” This statement by the Supreme Court before the hearing began gave corporations inclusion in the word “person” in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and claim to equal protection under law. (The case was decided on other grounds.)
1889 Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Co. v. Beckwith
Supreme Court rules a corporation is a “person” for both due process and equal protection.
1893 Noble v. Union River Logging R. Co.
For the first time corporations have claim to the Bill of Rights. The 5th Amendment says: “. . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
1905 Lochner v. New York
“Lochner” became shorthand for using the Constitution to invalidate government regulation of the corporation. It embodies the doctrine of “substantive due process.” From 1905 until the mid 1930s the Court invalidated approximately 200 economic regulations, usually under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment .
1906 Hale v. Henkel
Corporations get 4th Amendment “search and seizure” protection. Justice Harlan disagreed on this point: “. . . the power of the government, by its representatives, to look into the books, records and papers of a corporation of its own creation, to ascertain whether that corporation has obeyed or is defying the law, will be greatly curtailed, if not destroyed.”
1919 Dodge v. Ford Motor Co.
Michigan Supreme Court says, “A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end.” “Stockholder primacy” is established. This is still the leading case on corporate purpose.
1922 Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon
Corporations get 5th Amendment “takings clause”: “. . .nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” A regulation is deemed a takings.
1996 International Dairy Foods Association v. Amestoy
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a Vermont law requiring the labeling of all products containing bovine growth hormone. The right not to speak inheres in political and commercial speech alike and extends to statements
2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores
A landmark decision allowing closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. It is the first time that the court has recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief. The decision is an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and does not address whether such corporations are protected by the free-exercise of religion clause of the 1st Amendment.
Source: Timeline of Personhood Rights and Powers by Jan Edwards et al. | https://movetoamend.org/timeline
Table of Contents
Organizing to get big money out of politics is frequently missing the voices of those who are the most marginalized by the failings of our democracy. Public discussions about money in politics and corporate rights can feel disconnected from people’s everyday realities because they focus only on concerns like the increasing amounts spent on elections, the donors and companies benefiting from the pay-to-play system, and Supreme Court cases like Citizens United, which have blocked our representatives’ ability to rein in the influence of big money.
Too often, efforts to limit the dominance of corporations and big money, and even conversations about these problems, have failed to consider how our big-money system hurts people marginalized by systems of oppression like structural racism and white supremacy, heteronormativity, transphobia, misogyny, and xenophobia. Pro-democracy organizations recognize the lack of diversity and want to engage more communities, especially communities marginalized by systems of oppression, but often do not have the tools to do so. As a result, we have collected some tools as a starting point.
First, what is intersectionality?
Critical Race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to refer to overlapping or intersecting social identities, such as race, class, and gender, and related systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. People who live with multiple intersecting social identities tend to experience multiple systems of oppression, so their perspective and experience tends to be different from people with fewer subordinated intersecting identities.
Why do we need an intersectional democracy reform movement?
Those who experience the most harm from the unequal influence of money in politics are usually those who already face discrimination, oppression, or domination in other areas. A political system that favors the wealthiest few is particularly harmful for Native people, Black people, people of color, queer and trans people, and other communities who have been systematically excluded from economic opportunity. Our allies at Demos have written about both the racial wealth gap and how the racial bias in our big money political system undermines our democracy. We know that:
- Because of our country’s history and present practice of excluding people of color from our economy and our democracy, there are gaps of over $100k in the median household wealth controlled by white families and families of color.
- Trans and gender non-conforming people are 4x more likely to live in extreme poverty. Looking at the intersection of gender identity and race, black trans and gender non-conforming people are 8.5x more likely and Latinx trans & gender non-conforming people are 7x more likely to live in poverty than cisgender identified people.
Talking about money in politics without talking about systemic oppression ignores some significant structural challenges, which makes us less effective. Also, society and the money in politics movement are missing out on unique and valuable voices, which could allow us to build a more thoughtful and critical movement that would truly help everyone. The most successful movements to expand democracy have been multiracial, so imagine a movement with even more intersectionality and inclusivity.
How can we promote intersectionality within the democracy reform movement?
Historically, organizing to get big money out of politics has been driven largely by straight, older, white, and male leaders, which means we are frequently missing the voices of those who are the most marginalized by the failings of our democracy. We need to actively work toward centering and listening to voices that are the most systemically excluded, as well as working toward understanding – in our own spaces – how power dynamics and privilege play a role in the advocacy we do.
Free Speech for People and Demos discussed how to promote intersectionality on this Every Voice Podcast.
WHERE DO WE START?
Free Speech For People has been working with other pro-democracy organizations to create an initiative that will provide people with some tools and resources to work toward engaging necessary communities in the fight for democracy and to make us a fully intersectional and inclusive movement. In partnership with Demos, we created a flexible framework for events that, instead of centering scholars and leaders in the money in politics advocacy community, centers the communities we are trying to reach. We developed this framework through our experience organizing events in Boston and D.C. on how money in politics affects the queer and trans communities. When planning these events, we worked with many other pro-democracy organizations as well as organizations in the queer and trans community to create a space for trans and queer activists to talk about how big money affects their advocacy. Free Speech For People has also worked with Move To Amend to host a national webinar on how to promote inclusivity and intersectionality in the pro-democracy movement.
Below are materials and recommendations for how to work toward making our movement more intersectional.
INITIAL GUIDES FOR CENTERING COMMUNITIES MARGINALIZED BY SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION
- Centering Marginalized Communities: A Framework for Intersectional Money-in-Politics Events – a framework for events that center voices and communities marginalized by systems of oppression
- Every Voice Podcast on Centering Marginalized Communities – a podcast dedicated to intersectionality in the money in politics movement, and the Centering Marginalized Communities intersectional framework
- Movement Educational Program (Move To Amend) – an educational program to help democracy activists build authentic and trusting relationships with people from groups hardest-hit by structural oppression
- How Racial Bias in Our Big Money Political System Undermines Our Democracy and Our Economy (Demos) – great background reading to understand some of the impacts money in our political system has on racial equity
- Specific Educational Materials – consider creating educational materials specifically related to the community you are attempting to reach.
- Example: one-page educational material on how money in politics and corporate personhood affects the LBGTQ+ community
- Mulilingual Options – translate educational materials to reach a broader and more diverse audience
- Example: Spanish translation of report on how money in politics affects immigration policy
- Example: webpage that hosts information around how money in politics and corporate rights affects the LGBTQ+ community
- Centralizing and Sharing Information – find useful ways to share the information and insight you gather when centering new communities
VIDEO AND MATERIALS FROM INTERSECTIONAL EVENTS
- Video: Inclusivity and Intersectionality in the Pro-Democracy Movement (March 29, 2018)
- Video: Inclusivity and Intersectionality in the Pro-Democracy Movement (March 25, 2018)
- Video: Queer and Trans Concerns Around Voting Rights and Money in Politics (Washington, D.C., June 2017)
- Video: Queer and Trans Concerns Around Democracy, Money & Politics (Boston, April 2017)
- Facilitator’s Guide for Educational Program: How Money is Painting Your Life: Art, Money, and Politics – toolkit including facilitator’s guide, video of event, and photo of art
ADDITIONAL INTERSECTIONAL RESOURCES / RESEARCH
- Queer and Trans Concerns Around Democracy, Money & Politics – central resource listing for how money in politics affects the LGBTQ+ community
- Private Prisons & Political Contributions: How Big Money Shackles Immigration Policy / Prisiones Privadas y Contribuciones Financieras Electorales: ¿Cómo la Influencia del Dinero en la Política afecta a las Leyes de Inmigración? (available in English and Spanish) – research report looking at the impact of money in politics on immigration reform
- The Hill, Mar. 17, 2017: “Trump’s Link to Private Prisons Proves Why Citizens United Must Go” by Jasmine Gomez
- Truthout, Oct. 06, 2016: “Big Money in Politics Threatens Political and Racial Equality” by Jasmine Gomez
- Honolulu Star-Advertiser, June 4, 2014: “Equal Protection for People, Not Corporations” by Ron Fein
- The Hill, June 25, 2015: “Marriage Equality and Corporate Litigation” by Ron Fein
- Background Research: Money in Politics, Corporate Rights, and Queer/Trans Rights – information and linked resources from a panel in Boston that highlights how money in politics and corporate personhood affects the LGBTQ+ community
- Educational Materials (one-pager): Money in Politics, Corporate Rights and the LGBTQ+ Community – one-page educational material on how money in politics and corporate personhood affects the LBGTQ+ community