A Note of Respect and Gratitude to Debbie O’Dell Seneca, President Judge Emeritus of the Washington County, PA. Court of Common Pleas, for her Ruling in a Case involving Damages Suffered by Families due to “Fracking” (Extraction of Natural Gas) done by a Corporation:
Please accept my congratulations for your recent courageous ruling that a corporation does not possess Constitutional rights, and for asserting that, if corporations could claim Constitutional rights, then corporations would become a “… legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it”.
I share with many people a deep concern about the struggle that will define the 21st Century – Corporations v. Persons. I have studied and, from time to time, written about this struggle for more than a decade, and a little over two years ago I finally felt impelled to personally dig into the tap root of the problem and closely examine an underlying question: “What, specifically, is in the U.S. Constitution that would allow a Supreme Court Justice to conclude that a corporation legitimately possesses the rights that are defined there as being the rights of a person?” I found an answer that has been overlooked for too long, and to our peril.
Part 1 of my two-part essay, “Does a Corporation Have Constitutional Rights?” examines a single sentence in Article IV Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution that appears at first glance to be irrelevant, and is also assumed to be obsolete, but is actually critically important to us today because it makes crystal clear the intent of the Constitution in this matter. This sentence is the one and only place in the entire U.S. Constitution (with Amendments) where the word “Party” is employed. It is indeed fortunate for us that this very same sentence also uses the word “Person”! With a little thought, you will appreciate the significant implications of this. Part 1 concludes that: ‘A Corporation is a “Party”, NOT a “Person”, under the U.S Constitution’.
Corporations, of course, were not even called corporations when the colonies were separating from rule by and for the British monarchy. They were known then as companies, and were chartered by the Crown. Crown chartered companies (and the corporations, licensed by the states of the United States, which soon succeeded them) engaged in the highly profitable trans-Atlantic slave trade, owned vast plantations and other endeavors that employed many thousands of slaves, and financed and insured the institution of slavery, from top to bottom. Aside from the taking of virtually all the land and resources of the entire Western Hemisphere from the indigenous people who had lived here for a thousand generations prior to the European invasion, slavery was the biggest thing going, the most extravagantly profitable, the most pervasive enterprise at the time of the Revolution, and in succeeding decades, in America. And most of the Founders themselves profited greatly from – many even engaged directly as slave owners in – the highly profitable entrepreneurial opportunities presented by slavery (and indentured servitude), and by trafficking in those oppressed multitudes, in America.
Chartered companies (and later, corporations) actually owned, for at least part of their tragic lives, millions of slaves who were brought here from Africa, and a great portion of the millions who were subsequently bred into slavery here. Not only that, a great number of all indentured servants were in peonage to companies (first chartered, and later incorporated) until their debt was erased. Every slave and indentured servant was a “Person”, and was referred to as such by the Constitution. But since many companies owned slaves and indentured servants (and therefore not every owner was a “Person”!) an owner was referred to by the Constitution, as a “Party” – not as a “Person”. A “Person” or some other legal entity can be a “Party”, you see. But a “Party” (which might in this case be a corporation) is not necessarily a “Person”! So the Founders were careful to use that distinction right in the text of the Constitution itself, where they felt it was needed and appropriate, to avoid any confusion or mistake. Let’s show some appreciation for their careful and precise use of the language. It makes our case ironclad and watertight.
This sentence establishes a certain Constitutional “right” for a “Party” which claims ownership of the “Service or Labor” of a “Person”. But this sentence also establishes that the Founders, when writing, considering, and ratifying the Constitution did not believe or intend that a “Party” is the same as a “Person”. Whether you call it a company or a corporation (I’ll subsequently refer to both as a “corporation”) Article IV section 2 makes crystal clear that the Constitution holds such an entity to be a “Party”, with the rights described in the Constitution for a “Party” – not the rights of a “Person”.
In short, the Founders did not believe, intend or even accidentally imply, that a corporation is a “Person” or that any such legal fabrication possesses the rights of “We the People”.
Part 2 of “Does a Corporation Have Constitutional Rights?” spotlights the Constitutional mandate for the enumeration of “Persons”, and the consequent apportioning of Representatives in Congress among the states. That mandate occurs both in Article I Section 2 of the original text, and again, four score years later, in the 14th Amendment. Taken in historical context, these clauses establish that if a corporation were somehow construed to be a “Person” in the 14th Amendment and the U.S. Constitution, then the Census has never been properly conducted by the Congress, and the U.S. Congress itself has been illegally and illegitimately constituted from the very first Congress, all the way through to today’s 113th Congress. Part 2 concludes that “A Corporation Does NOT Count as a Person, under the U.S. Constitution”.
Ironically, we do not need a Constitutional Amendment to correct the Constitution in this case.
We only (but desperately, and undoubtedly) need a Constitutional Amendment to correct the unjustified and unjustifiable false precedent that was asserted, and subsequently cited, by certain corrupted and/or incompetent inhabitants of the U.S. Supreme Court, commencing in 1886.
The text of the Constitution itself, including its Amendments, clearly and without any ambiguity establishes that a corporation is not a person, and does not have the rights of a person.
Article IV sect. 2 makes explicit and undeniable that obvious, common sense distinction, which is clearly implied everywhere else, throughout the Constitution, including all Amendments.
Furthermore, no legitimate argument to the contrary can be made that is based on the actual meaning and intent of the U.S. Constitution and Amendments.
Let’s take a moment right here and now to expose and demolish a distracting false rumor. Establishing that a corporation does not have Constitutional rights does not mean that corporations cannot exist, or engage in business for profit, or make contracts, etc. It just means that corporations can be regulated and restrained – and empowered – if and as we so choose – by the people and their elected representatives. It means that the people’s “inalienable rights” are sovereign over government, and that fabricated legal entities such as corporations are NOT. It’s a pretty basic distinction, and a mighty important one for us to insist on reclaiming. After all, huge corporations, somewhat in contrast to human babies, are conceived in a seductive atmosphere of pecuniary promises and lurid legislation, ‘born’ of a menage of crafty lawyers, watchful bean-counters, and lobbyists, becoming intimately familiar, on many levels, with government officials and their ambitious, career-minded staffers.
My essays on this particular subject, including my proposal for a Constitutional Amendment to correct this U.S. Supreme Court travesty (and also to more explicitly protect the rights of the people) are posted on this “Hearts and Minds“ blog.
This link will directly access them for you and for anyone else who can help our Movement:
Learn about, join and support these two nationwide and local grassroots organizations (neither of which seeks or accepts corporate “donations”) both of which depend on everyday people like you and me to build our Movement. Both are committed to the people winning this struggle, and to getting a strong and effective Amendment, which establishes that (1) a Corporation is NOT a Person! and does not legitimately have any Constitutional rights; and (2) Money is NOT Speech!, and the expenditure and distribution of large quantities of money to influence government officials, political parties, public elections and referenda, is not Constitutionally protected “free speech”; it is legalized bribery and corruption of government.
There is nothing wrong with an everyday citizen, with no particular specialized credentials, finding a simple but sound and unimpeachable answer to a very ominous and vexing problem. After all, that’s how a real democracy, and our Constitutional government, is supposed to work. I believe that this long overlooked 2-part argument can and should be an important tool for our Movement to use in this life-and-death struggle for the future and for life as we know it on Earth.
Thank you, Judge O’Dell Seneca, and all others fighting for this Movement of the People.
Thank you for standing up for justice, and for the Constitutional rights that belong to the people.
We, the people, will help you fight against attacks directed against you because of your stand for judicial integrity and the plain truth.
We support and join your stand for government that is of, by, and for the people – instead of government that is corrupted by and for the rapidly growing power of corporations.