As many as 2 million public workers are expected to join a one-day walkout on Wednesday, with airlines warning passengers arriving at London’s Heathrow and other airports could face 12-hour delays at immigration halls as U.K. Border Agency staff join the action.
During the 19th century, however, the robber barons, aided by a few corrupt jurists deep in their pockets, took the concept to a whole new level in the United States. According to legal textbooks, the idea that corporations enjoy the same constitutional rights as you or I was codified in the 1886 decision Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. But historian Thom Hartmann dug into the original case documents and found that this crucially important legal doctrine actually originated with what may be the most significant act of corruption in history.
It occurred during a seemingly routine tax case: Santa Clara sued the Southern Pacific Railroad to pay property taxes on the land it held in the county, and the railroad claimed that because states had different rates, allowing them to tax its holdings would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The railroads had made the claim in previous cases, but the courts had never bought the argument.
In a 2005 interview, Hartmann described his surprise when he went to a Vermont courthouse to read an original copy of the verdict and found that the judges had made no mention of corporate personhood. “In fact,” he told the interviewer, “the decision says, at its end, that because they could find a California state law that covered the case ‘it is not necessary to consider any other questions’ such as the constitutionality of the railroad’s claim to personhood.”
Hartmann then explained how it was that corporations actually became “people”:
In the headnote to the case—a commentary written by the clerk, which is not legally binding, it’s just a commentary to help out law students and whatnot, summarizing the case—the Court’s clerk wrote: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The discovery “that we’d been operating for over 100 years on an incorrect headnote” led Hartmann to look into the past of the clerk who’d written it, J. C. Bancroft Davis. He discovered that Davis had been a corrupt official who had himself previously served as the president of a railroad. Digging deeper, Hartmann then discovered that Davis had been working “in collusion with another corrupt Supreme Court Justice, Stephen Field.” The railroad companies, according to Hartmann, had promised Field that they’d sponsor his run for the White House if he assisted them in their effort to gain constitutional rights.
Hartmann noted that even after the ruling, the idea of corporate personhood remained relatively obscure until corporate lawyers dusted off the doctrine during the Reagan era and used it to help reshape the U.S. political economy.
Nike asserted before the Supreme Court … as Sinclair Broadcasting did in a press release last month, that these corporations have First Amendment rights of free speech. Dow Chemical in a case it took to the Supreme Court asserted it has Fourth Amendment privacy rights and could refuse to allow the EPA to do surprise inspections of its facilities. J.C. Penney asserted before the Supreme Court that it had a Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from discrimination—the Fourteenth Amendment was passed to free the slaves after the Civil War—and that communities that were trying to keep out chain stores were practicing illegal discrimination. Tobacco and asbestos companies asserted that they had Fifth Amendment rights to keep secret what they knew about the dangers of their products. With the exception of the Nike case, all of these attempts to obtain human rights for corporations were successful, and now they wield this huge club against government that was meant to protect relatively helpless and fragile human beings.
His mother is ill, and he must return to Mexico with her, as without the proper “papers,” the existence human beings is considered illegal, depending on which dirt their feet rest on. Naturally, he followed his mother to where she can receive the care she needs without risking the state uprooting her and her own. Borders are scars upon far more than just the earth.
Funny how this pops up just as I am preparing to leave for the French embassy for my visa interview. So many borders on this Earth, and so many ways of reinforcing them.
This. Visas are just another way of reinforcing these borders—which as a Filipino citizen, I have to get every single time I leave the country to go to Europe— or, periodically, to go the the US (I have a 10-year visa). All of this because the assumption is that I am Filipino, therefore I will obviously do the illegal thing and run away and marry a white man the minute I land in LA or San Francisco. I have to submit bank documents and statements, my old passports, proof of birth, of employment/studies— I basically have to prove that I have enough money to tie me to my mother country and not want to escape to the USA. Then there are visa interviews, wherein the consular officer sizes you up and based on gut feel, either deny you or give you your visa. People have been denied visas for not having enough money, or because of their religion (Muslim Filipinos are particularly vulnerable), or because the consular officer has met his visa quota. I am biased towards European consuls as they base the visa issuance strictly on documentation, and I have seen and know enough people who were denied US visas because the officer didn’t like them, because they were too old or because the consular officer forgot to write the control number. Funny how your papers determine your humanity and your legality sometimes.
It’s fucking ridiculous. It’s like a test to prove that you’re worthy enough to get out of your own country— and you’re subject to it just because you had the misfortune of being born on Philippine soil.
Fading into the dim of light, scribbling discoursed jargon within these margins of twilight, zoned out in this depiction of imagination we’ve based this fictitious life on. Writing lies on pieces of paper, in this paper perfect world full of paper people who are as fake as the lies they tell, see,…
November 28th – In solidarity with UC Davis , UC Berkeley, CUNY Schools and all students who are defending their right to protest against rising tuition cost and out of control student debt. We ask you to STRIKE! No work, no school – please join together in a central area of your choosing and stand up against the VIOLENCE and SUPPRESSION that is happening in our schools.
Please abide by the Pledge of Non-Violence to Participate in the Student Strike:
We are an open, participatory, democratic, horizontal, peaceful, and nonviolent movement.
We are not a leaderless movement, we are a movement of leaders.
Bradley Manning can receive mail and (money order) donations now, with some very specific restrictions/conditions. However, if you wish to contact him you can. Follow the rules on his lawyer’s website.
After over 530+ days in captivity, Manning gets his first appearance, albeit at a military…
“No history books used in public schools informed us about racial imperialism. Instead we were given romantic notions of the “New World,” the “American Dream,” America as the great melting pot where all races come together as one. We were taught that Columbus “discovered” America; that “Indians” were scalp-hunters, killers of innocent women and children; that black people were enslaved because of the biblical curse of Ham, that God “himself” had decreed that they would be hewers of wood, tilers of the field, and bringers of water. No one talked of Africa as the cradle of civilization, of African and Asian people who came to America before Columbus. No one mentioned mass murders of Native Americans and African women as terrorism. No one described the force breeding of white wives to increase the white population as sexist oppression.”—Bell Hooks: Racism and Feminism (via cultureofresistance)
“We are in the midst of a decisive battle in the face of a potentially terminal crackdown. Over the past 72 hours the army has launched a ceaseless assault on revolutionaries in Tahrir Square and squares across Egypt. Over 2000 of us have been injured. More than 30 of us…