The Constitution does not mention corporations, but the Supreme Court has struck down hundreds of local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on the illegitimate premise that corporations should have Constitutional rights.
Armed with these "rights," corporations wield ever-increasing control over jobs, natural assets, politicians, even judges and the law. For example, the Supreme Court has:
Prohibited routine inspections of corporate property without a warrant or prior permission, even though scheduling such visits may permit a company to hide threats to public health and safety. (Marshall v Barlow’s, 1978)
Struck down state laws requiring companies to disclose product origins (International Dairy v. Amnestoy, 1996), thus creating “negative free speech rights” for corporations and preventing us from knowing what’s in our food.
Prohibited citizens wanting to defend their local businesses and community from corporate chains encroachment from enacting progressive taxes on chain stores. (Liggett v. Lee, 1933)
Struck down state laws restricting corporate spending on ballot initiatives and referenda, enabling corporations to block citizen action through what, theoretically, is the purest form of democracy. (First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti).
- Struck down federal laws limiting corporate spending in elections, opening the door to political corruption and drowning out the average American's ability to influence who serves in political office (Citizens United v. FEC, 2010)
The time has arrived when a democratic litmus test should be given to all Supreme Court justice nominees on their views on corporate constitutional rights during the confirmation process!
Hand Deliver the Questionnaire Your U.S. Senators
The delivery can be informal (handing it to the Senator at an event) or part of a larger event at his/her office (i.e. vigil, rally, demonstration) that is organized by you/your MTA affiliate or part of a larger coalition event by multiple groups opposed to the Kavanaugh nomination. Whether alone or part of a larger event, the Questionnaire can be read aloud before having a delegation deliver it to his/her office.
Share the Questionnaire with the Press
This can be done by including it with a very short press release or just by itself. Indicate that you plan to or already did deliver it to your Senators. Send it to press contacts you may already know and/or the reporter (if there is one) who covers national news for your local/regional newspaper(s).
Share the Questionnaire with Friends and Co-workers
After emailing the Questionnaire, encourage your friends to do the same. Share this link: http://MoveToAmend.org/no-kavanaugh!
Supreme Court Justice nominations don't happen very often. It's high time we use these infrequent instances to focus on the role of the judiciary in creating corporate constitutional rights out of thin air and popularize all the more the absurdity of and danger to democracy of corporate constitutional rights.
Questionnaire for Senate Hearings
What are inalienable constitutional rights? Who should possess them?
Charters or licenses were democratic instruments once used by the public and state legislatures to define and limit corporate actions. Corporations, collections of capital and property, could not act beyond their charter provisions. Do you feel that these originally defined collections of capital and property should possess inalienable constitutional rights intended for human beings?
You’re considered a “strict constructionist” (i.e. to literally interpret the U.S. Constitution as written). Corporations are nowhere mentioned in our constitution. How do “strict constructionists” justify anointing state-created corporations with Bill of Rights and other rights contained in the Constitution?
The 14th Amendment was one of the three post civil war amendments passed to ensure equal protection for former slaves. Two decades later, the Supreme Court declared that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection rights also applied to corporations. Do you feel that the 14th Amendment framers intended the amendment to apply to corporations?
Corporations won constitutional "search and seizure" rights to avoid subpoenas which may uncover corrupt financial and business practices, and to avoid health and safety inspections, and to prevent citizens and communities from stopping corporate pollution. Do you agree that corporations "search and seizure" rights should exist, which preempt the public's right to know through inspections?
The 1978 First National Bank v Bellotti ruling was the first Supreme Court case granting corporations the right to influence elections. In a dissenting opinion, Justice William Rehnquist stated: “It might reasonably be concluded that [corporations], so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere." Do you believe that corporate money in elections poses "special dangers in the political sphere"?
The Supreme Court asserted in the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision that a business corporation has religious rights. Do you believe that an entity created by the state possesses religious rights that could have the effect of discriminating against entire groups of people?
- The constitutional right “not to speak” has been granted to corporations to avoid listing product ingredients, even when the public health, safety and welfare may be at risk by not having the right to know. Do you feel a corporation’s constitutional so-called “right not to speak” should preempt the public’s right to protect their own health, safety and welfare?