Archive for the ‘U.S. Constitution’ tag
First of all, I will remind you all of the original “Organic” 13th Amendment (which means it was originally there, in writing) of the US Constitution.
If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.
Now read on . . .
Isn’t it just one hell of a coincidence that Israel-Firster Eric Cantor (Likud, Virginia), is engineering a campaign to shut down the US government over the issue of Obama Care while at the same time he runs off to Israel every fifteen minutes? Yes, and Israel has truly socialized medicine. But he’s got no problem with that, nor does he have a problem with Americans dying in wars for Israel. Remember this little gem from Cantor’s office? It’s not even a full year old yet.
“Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” read a statement from Cantor’s office on the one-on-one meeting. “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.” Then less than a year after promising to commit the Republican Party to working for Israel against a twice-democratically elected president, Cantor then runs of to Israel with over 30 other Republicans willing to sell out to Israel.
Against a backdrop of Obama’s clearly not wanting a war with Iran and instead trying (meekly) to establish some sort of normal communication with that country, combined with Obama’s (rather ridiculous and meagre) attempts to get Netanyahu to pretend to be interested in peace with the Palestinians while at the same time the Syrian situation is something AIPAC and the loonies like Cantor want the US to escalate into something that could lead to world war, against all of this, Israel-Firster Cantor goes to Israel and does everything he can to pretty much fuck up everything on Israel’s behalf.
Meeting with Peres:
“Cantor opened the meeting by telling President Peres that the delegation had come to Israel to show the strength of American support for Israel and express the support of congress for Israel’s position.”
On the Palestinians we get overt racism and contempt:
“US Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, said while leading a trip of 28 congressmen to Israel that he doesn’t envision progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until there is a Palestinian “cultural mind-shift.”
And just to make sure that Cantor’s racism is clear he added: “Regarding Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement on Monday that the US views all Israeli communities located beyond the pre-1967 lines as “illegitimate,” Cantor said the “discussion of territory, lines, towns and settlements is predicated upon the Palestinians first agreeing” to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
And of course Cantor went ape-shit over Obama’s phone call with Rouhani. Read this shit and laugh.“
“I am concerned that President Obama did not press Iranian President Rouhani to halt Iran’s ongoing support for radical Islamic terrorism, its repeated violations of U.N. and IAEA resolutions, and its support of Bashar Assad’s war against the Syrian people. These topics were not publicly addressed by the President today, but require his urgent attention. Iran’s government remains — in spite of President Rouhani’s rhetoric — a brutal, repressive theocracy.”
So Cantor wants Obama to support al-Qa’ida crazies in Syria, but Iran is a bad boy for supporting “radical Islamic terrorism”? What bullshit. What he means is “Iran must stop supporting Hizbullah because they have shown that they can kick Israeli ass.” And Israeli ass is all he cares about. If you are an American, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about yours. What’s going on is no coincidence folks.
It’s an Israeli coup against the United States.
During August 2010, the People of The State of Missouri approved Proposition C and nullified key parts of “Obamacare.” As a matter of constitutional principle, may the People of the States lawfully do this? Or must they submit to every law made by Congress whether it is constitutional or not? Are federal judges the final authority?
I will prove that the States have the Right and the Duty to nullify unconstitutional acts of Congress. The only real question is whether Americans have the Will to reclaim our Constitutional Republic & the Rule of Law, or whether they will submit to the rulership of men who “don’t care” what the Constitution says, and who see Obamacare as a way “to control the people”.
Congress’ Powers are Enumerated
1. The U.S. Constitution, which created the federal government, permits Congress to make laws only on those few objects which are listed in the Constitution. The objects on which Congress has authority to make laws applicable throughout our Country are itemized at Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16 (and in a few of the Amendments).
Since the Federalist Papers are the most authoritative commentary on the true meaning of the Constitution, 1 let us see what those Papers say about the extent of Congress’ legislative powers. In Federalist No. 83 (7th para), Alexander Hamilton says:
The plan of the convention declares that the power of Congress . . . shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd, as well as useless, if a general authority was intended. [boldface mine]
In Federalist No. 39 (3rd para from end), James Madison says:
. . . the proposed government cannot be deemed a national one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects . . . [emphasis added]
Our Framers were emphatic that ours is a Constitution of enumerated powers only. In Federalist No. 45 (9th para), Madison says:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people . . . [emphasis mine] 3
Do you see? If the Constitution doesn’t delegate a power to Congress by listing it in the Constitution, Congress doesn’t have that power. It is reserved by the States or the People.
Congress Usurps Power when it makes Laws outside its Enumerated Powers – and such pretended Laws are VOID & NOT VALID.
2. Our Framers understood that civil governments seek to expand power at the expense of the People. And when they do so, their acts are VOID and INVALID! Thus, in Federalist No. 33 (next to last para), Hamilton says:
. . . But it will not follow . . . that acts of the large society [the federal government] which are NOT PURSUANT to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies [the States], will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such . . . [caps are Hamilton's; other emphasis mine]
In the last paragraph of No. 33, Hamilton says a law made by Congress which is not authorized by the Constitution,
. . . would not be the supreme law of the land, but a usurpation of power not granted by the Constitution . . . [emphasis mine]
In Federalist No. 78 (10th para), Hamilton says:
. . . every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid. [emphasis mine]
Nothing in Art. I, Sec. 8, or elsewhere in the Constitution, authorizes Congress to pass Obamacare! “Medical care” is not an enumerated power. Obamacare is unconstitutional as outside the scope of the legislative powers granted to Congress. 4
Furthermore, the Tenth Amendment forbids Congress to pass Obamacare: When a power is not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, that power is reserved to the States or to the People. Only the States or the People have power over medical care!
So! Congress passed Obamacare without any constitutional authority to do so, and in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Hence, as Hamilton shows us, Obamacare is “void” and not “valid”. It is an act “of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such.”
Hamilton, Madison & Thomas Jefferson show us that Nullification is the Answer.
3. Hamilton shows in Federalist No. 28 (7th para) that if the federal government invades the rights of the People, they can use the State government as the instrument of redress:
. . . in a confederacy the people . . . may be said to be . . . the masters of their own fate. Power being almost always the rival of power, the general [federal] government will . . . stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress . . . . [emphasis added]
So! When the People of the State of Missouri approved Proposition C nullifying Obamacare, they properly made use of their State government as “the instrument of redress” against the usurpations of Congress & the Executive Branch.
And since State officials and many Citizens have taken the Oath to support the U.S. Constitution (Art. VI, clause 2), it is their SWORN DUTY to nullify – to refuse to obey – unconstitutional and pretended federal “laws”, such as Obamacare.
Nullification by States of unconstitutional federal laws is not new. Our beloved Thomas Jefferson (Author of the Declaration of Independence) & James Madison (Father of the U.S. Constitution) show us precisely what States are honor bound to do when Congress makes an unconstitutional law. During 1798, in response to Congress’ passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Kentucky and Virginia Legislatures passed Resolutions declaring those Acts unconstitutional as outside the enumerated powers granted to Congress, and as in violation of the Tenth Amendment. In these Resolutions, Kentucky and Virginia resolved not to abide by the federal acts. Jefferson wrote The Kentucky Resolutions, and Madison wrote The Virginia Resolution.
The Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions are masterpieces of constitutional analysis. Study them! States may use them as models for their own Resolutions nullifying the myriad of unconstitutional “laws” which have spewed forth from Congress in recent decades.
The Framers did NOT say States should file Lawsuits and let Federal Judges decide!
4. Think: Why would the States, which formed a Federation for the limited purposes enumerated in Art. I, Sec. 8; ask one branch of the federal government (judiciary) to opine on whether a “law” approved by the two other branches (legislative & executive), exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and encroaches on the reserved powers of the States and the People (10th Amendment)? All three branches of the federal government have been unified against The Constitution, the States, and the People for a very long time! Why would States put themselves in the position of supplicants to a Court which has already shown itself to be contemptuous of the Constitution, and of the States’ and The Peoples’ reserved powers?
And further: Can we not see for ourselves that Obamacare is outside the scope of the Legislative Powers granted to Congress in the Constitution, and that it violates the Tenth Amendment? Our Framers certainly did not advocate running to federal judges to let them decide such issues! No, our Framers were men who had guts & backbone and understood the Constitution! So they nullified unconstitutional acts of Congress. 6
Will the American People pass the Test?
5. Will the States and the People surrender to the likes of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean who “doesn’t care” if the stuff passed by Congress is unconstitutional? To Democrat Congressman John Dingle who sees Obamacare as a means “to control the people”? Or will The People and the States man up and defend our Constitution?
We have instructions from the Author of the Declaration of Independence, the Father of the Constitution, and the Author of most of the Federalist Papers. They explain what our Constitution really means, and tell us what we need to do when the federal government usurps powers. Listen to them!
They are the highest Authority on the true meaning of our Constitution.
And do not be swept away by rage and lust for revenge. Do not become the murderous, unthinking red-capped mob of the French Revolution.
Let us pray that our eyes be opened, that we listen to the words of wisdom from our Framers, that our spines be stiffened, and that we work for a peaceful political resolution of the dreadful problems facing us.
The federal courts have refused to enforce the Constitution. Congress has failed to impeach & remove usurping federal judges – it has failed to be the “check” on the federal courts. Therefore, WE must enforce the Constitution by means of nullification. WE must be the final “check” on the courts. Study & learn so that you are qualified to do this.
1 At a meeting attended by Thomas Jefferson & James Madison of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia on March 4, 1825, the following resolution selecting texts for the Law school, was passed:
. . . on the distinctive principles of the government of our own state, and of that of the US. the best guides are to be found in 1. the Declaration of Independance, as the fundamental act of union of these states. 2. the book known by the title of `The Federalist’, being an authority to which appeal is habitually made by all, and rarely declined or denied by any as evidence of the general opinion of those who framed, and of those who accepted the Constitution of the US. on questions as to it’s genuine meaning . . . . (Page 83) [emphasis added]
2 See also Federalist No. 14 (8th para) “ . . . the general [federal] government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects . . . ”
Federalist No. 27 (last para) “ . . . It merits particular attention in this place, that the laws of the Confederacy [the federal government], as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land . . . Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the respective members, will be incorporated into the operations of the national government AS FAR AS ITS JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EXTENDS . . . ” [caps in original]
3 Medicare, Medicaid, social security, etc., are also unconstitutional as outside the scope of the legislative powers granted to Congress. And the programs can’t work! As more & more people seek to live at other peoples’ expense, the system eventually collapses. That collapse is upon us.
4 Jefferson calls it “nullification”; Madison calls it “interposition”. In “interposition”, the State “interposes” – steps in between – an usurping federal government and The People. (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.) The result is really the same.
5 Furthermore, the Supreme Court is NOT the ultimate authority on the meaning of the Constitution! Hamilton says federal judges may be impeached for usurpations (Federalist No. 81, 8th para); the People are “the natural guardians of the Constitution” as against federal judges “embarked in a conspiracy with the legislature”; and the People are to become “enlightened enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal usurpation of authority.“(Federalist No.16, next to last para).
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Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations global gun control treaty today without submitting it to the US Senate for ratification. Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker immediately sent a strongly worded letter to the White House warning President Obama not to use presidential directives to implement the treaty without submitting the treaty to the Senate for a vote. Mr. Corker said the treaty violates the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe declared the treaty to be dead in the water in the Senate. Gun owners fear the treaty will establish a global registry under the UN of all gun owners in the world. Some political analysts believe Mr. Kerry signed the gun control treaty instead of President Obama so impeachment proceedings could not be initiated against him in the House for violating the Constitution.
Conservative columnist and former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts welcomed 2012 with a sober warning of "Tyranny in the Forecast — The Outlook for the New Year." Veterans Today columnist and Progressive Radio host Stephen Lendman tore into "Obama's America: Tyranny and Permanent War," in his Jan. 2 blog post, following on his Jan. 1 attack on "Obama's New Year Resolution: More Middle East War."
Both, from their differing ideological standpoints, cry out against the horror of domestic tyranny, unnecessary foreign wars, and the acquiesence of an American people who permit this to occur. While useful, these voices, like others, themselves cry out for confidence in the power of the principles of the American System to secure victory against our British enemy which American statesman Lyndon LaRouche and the LaRouche slate of six candidates are uniquely bringing to the American people.
"The outlook for liberty is dismal," Roberts writes. "Those writers who are critical of Washington's illegal wars and overthrow of the U.S. Constitution could find themselves in indefinite detainment… The Bush/Obama regimes have put the foundation in place for imprisoning critics of the government without due process of law." The hypocrisy of bombing and threatening to bomb other countries for human rights abuses, while Obama signs a "Bill of Tyranny"!
"None of this was done behind closed doors. The murder of the US Constitution was a public crime witnessed by all. But like Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death in New York in 1964 in front of onlookers who failed to come to her aid, the media, Congress, bar associations, law schools, and the American public failed to come to the defense of the Constitution.
"In my lifetime the collapse in respect for, and authority of, the Constitution has been an horrific event. Compare the ho-hum response to the Obama regime's police state announcements with the public anger at President Richard Nixon over his enemies list. Try to imagine President Ronald Reagan announcing that he had a list of Americans marked for assassination without impeachment proceedings beginning forthwith," Roberts writes.
For his part, Lendman writes that "December 31, 2011 will be remembered as a day of infamy," the day "tyranny arrived in America" with Obama's signing of the NDAA — itself a follow-on to Oct. 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed his Military Commissions Act, institutionalizing an "extremism" against liberty which Obama has exceeded. "As of December 31, anyone anywhere, including U.S. citizens, can be called national security threats and judged guilty by accusation…. The original Senate bill excluded US citizens. Obama demanded their inclusion… It's official. Tyranny arrived in America. The nation's unsafe to live in. There's no place to hide. They're coming for anyone challenging injustice."
This lawlessness at home, is matched by lawlessness abroad, Lendman warns. Libya was turned into a "charnel house… Syria's been ruthlessly targeted…. Iran's next…. At issue is regime change. Reasons are invented as pretext. As a result, anything ahead is possible, including potentially devastating general war with nuclear weapons targeting underground Iranian facilities. No matter the risk, Obama seems headed for the unthinkable."
Former CIA officer and historian Phil Giraldi warns in a Dec. 29 column for antiwar.com that Obama goes further than Bush and Cheney, and like Bush-Cheney, Obama has destroyed the U.S. Constitution in a way that parallels what Hitler and Carl Schmitt did against the Weimar Constitution.
“Sadly, on the verge of a new year, it is hard to argue that Washington in 2011 is much different from Weimar and Berlin in 1933,” Giraldi says. “[T]he power coupled with lack of accountability that has been assumed by the [Obama] White House should be regarded as a deadly serious matter by every American citizen. If you think Weimar Republic Germany is a long time ago and far away so it can’t happen here, you are wrong. It can happen here, and unless something is done to stop it, it almost surely will happen here. It is happening already.” (emphasis added).
Giraldi notes that there are frequent analogies being made between the U.S. and empires. The neo-cons have delusions about the Roman imperial system being a perpetual American empire, while others says that a U.S. empire will destroy itself eventually as did Rome and London.
But for Giraldi, the parallel is Weimar. Like Weimar after the Reichstag Fire, the U.S. has destroyed the Constitution and replaced it with a “lawless Fuehrer state,” like that provided for Hitler by Carl Schmitt and other leading jurists. Giving a brief summary of some of the crisis powers given to Hitler after the Reichstag Fire, which “was almost certainly carried out by the Nazis themselves,” Giraldi emphasizes the importance of the “Enabling Act, which gave [Hitler] the authority to ignore parliament and pass laws by decree.” The full name of the Enabling Act was, “in English, the Act for the Removal of Distress from People and Reich,” and it said that “a powerful executive could ignore restraints imposed by bureaucrats and constitutions when required to cope with a crisis.”
Today, America is far down a similar path, Giraldi warns.
“The first anti-terror legislation to pass was the USA PATRIOT Act, the full title of which is the The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, a euphemism oddly reminiscent of Hitler’s Enabling Act,” Giraldi says. It was followed by the PATRIOT Act II of 2006, and “the two laws diminished constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property. The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights were all discarded or abridged….
“The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) followed, creating military tribunals for the trying of unlawful enemy combatants, including American citizens. Unlike in a civil or criminal court, the accused needs only a two-thirds vote by the commission members present to be convicted…. The act suspends habeas corpus and Geneva Convention protections and permits the indefinite jailing of suspects in a military prison without charges or access to a lawyer….”
Obama “has expanded the Bush portfolio, repeatedly citing state-secrets privileges to prevent any legal challenges while authorizing the assassination of U.S. citizens overseas based on suspicion, carrying out acts of war against countries with which Washington is not at war, and now, finally, signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which provides for indefinite military detention of anyone anywhere for any reason, including U.S. citizens in the United States, because the whole world is the battlefield. Did Hitler behave similarly in contravention of the Weimar constitution? He sure did….”
Giraldi doesn’t make the obvious point that Lyndon LaRouche is warning about, but the point is clear. Remove Obama from office under the Constitution while there is still time.
July 26, 2011
Lyndon LaRouche today called for the immediate jailing of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama for their role in a massive theft of taxpayers money, in the 2008 bailout of Wall Street and London, and the ongoing pledge to continue the bailout of the hopelessly bankrupt European Monetary Union and Wall Street.
LaRouche made the demand after reviewing the July 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Federal Reserve, which is the first installment of a larger audit to be completed by October of this year. The preliminary audit revealed a trail of criminal action on the part of Bernanke and Geithner. In March 2008, Fed Chairman Bernanke fraudulently invoked an emergency clause in the Federal Reserve Act, claiming that on the basis of “unusual and exigent circumstances,” the Fed could issue emergency loans to nondepository institutions for the first time since the Great Depression. As the result, the Fed issued more than $16 trillion in emergency loans to Wall Street and foreign banks. Furthermore, most of the fraudulent “emergency lending” was outsourced to private contractors, led by JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, in no-bid contracts that totalled $660 million in fees. Numerous officials of the Fed and the outside contractors were given blanket waivers, allowing them to act despite clear conflicts of interest. The Fed audit cited the case of William Dudley, a former chief economist of Goldman Sachs, who is now the Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve, who was given a conflict-of-interest waiver to retain his stocks in AIG and General Electric at a time when he was authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars in fraudulent “emergency” loans to these firms. In another example of the rampant conflict of interest, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase was allowed to remain on the board of directors of the New York Federal Reserve Bank while his firm received $390 billion in loans, and functioned as a major clearinghouse for the entire Federal Reserve emergency loan program.
The GAO audit was conducted under an amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill that was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), over strenuous objections.
Lyndon LaRouche today demanded that Bernanke, Geithner and President Obama be immediately sent to prison for their role in this fraudulent theft of taxpayer’s money. “There never was an emergency warranting $16 trillion in bailout to Wall Street and foreign banks,” LaRouche declared. “There was always an alternative, which I spelled out clearly in my 2007 Homeowners and Bank Protection Act (HBPA), an alternative thoroughly in keeping with the U.S. Constitution. I called for the immediate reinstatement of the Glass Steagall Act and a freeze on all home foreclosures for the duration of the bankruptcy reorganization of the entire Federal Reserve System. It was a high crime to bail out Wall Street and London’s gambling debts, and Bernanke’s declaration of emergency, unleashing $16 trillion in Fed funds to bailout gambling debts that can never be paid, was a criminal fraud. President Obama has furthered that criminal fraud, by pledging that the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury would be the lenders of last resort for the European Monetary Union. The President made that illegal promise as recently as last week, during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
LaRouche concluded: “There is only one appropriate course of action. Send Bernanke, Geithner and Obama to prison right now. The idea that the American people should be held responsible for bailing out tens of trillions of dollars in fraudulent, worthless, unpayable debt, is unforgivable, and must be punished by criminal prosecution and hard jail time. Public officials elected or appointed to high office in our Federal government must be held accountable for their crimes, or else our entire Constitutional system is worthless. I know the American people are with me, and that there can be no delay. The GAO is the official investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. They have provided their findings in a 239 page audit report. The facts speak for themselves.”
These communities are adopting laws that, taken together, are forming an alternative structure to the global corporate economy. The principles behind these laws can be applied broadly to any area where corporate rights override local self-government or the well-being of the local ecology.
Mt. Shasta, a small northern California town of 3,500 residents nestled in the foothills of magnificent Mount Shasta, is taking on corporate power through an unusual process—democracy.
The citizens of Mt. Shasta have developed an extraordinary ordinance, set to be voted on in the next special or general election, that would prohibit corporations such as Nestle and Coca-Cola from extracting water from the local aquifer. But this is only the beginning. The ordinance would also ban energy giant PG&E, and any other corporation, from regional cloud seeding, a process that disrupts weather patterns through the use of toxic chemicals such as silver iodide. More generally, it would refuse to recognize corporate personhood, explicitly place the rights of community and local government above the economic interests of multinational corporations, and recognize the rights of nature to exist, flourish, and evolve.
Mt. Shasta is not alone. Rather, it is part of a (so far) quiet municipal movement making its way across the United States in which communities are directly defying corporate rule and affirming the sovereignty of local government.
Since 1998, more than 125 municipalities have passed ordinances that explicitly put their citizens’ rights ahead of corporate interests, despite the existence of state and federal laws to the contrary. These communities have banned corporations from dumping toxic sludge, building factory farms, mining, and extracting water for bottling. Many have explicitly refused to recognize corporate personhood. Over a dozen townships in Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Hampshire have recognized the right of nature to exist and flourish (as Ecuador just did in its new national constitution). Four municipalities, including Halifax in Virginia, and Mahoney, Shrewsbury, and Packer in Pennsylvania, have passed laws imposing penalties on corporations for chemical trespass, the involuntary introduction of toxic chemicals into the human body.
These communities are beginning to band together. When the attorney general of Pennsylvania threatened to sue Packer Township this year for banning sewage sludge within its boundaries, six other Pennsylvania towns adopted similar ordinances and twenty-three others passed resolutions in support of their neighboring community. Many people were outraged when the attorney general proclaimed, “there is no inalienable right to local self-government.”
Bigger cities are joining the fray. In November, Pittsburgh’s city council voted to ban corporations in the city from drilling for natural gas as a result of local concern about an environmentally devastating practice known as “fracking.” As city councilman Doug Shields stated in a press release, “Many people think that this is only about gas drilling. It’s not—it’s about our authority as a municipal community to say ‘no’ to corporations that will cause damage to our community. It’s about our right to community, [to] local self-government.”
What has driven these communities to such radical action? The typical story involves a handful of local citizens deciding to oppose a corporate practice, such as toxic sludge dumping, which has taken a huge toll on the health, economy, and natural surroundings of their town. After years of fighting for regulatory change, these citizens discover a bitter truth: the U.S. environmental regulatory system consists of a set of interlocking state and federal laws designed by industry to serve corporate interests. With the deck utterly stacked against them, communities are powerless to prevent corporations from destroying the local environment for the sake of profit.
Enter the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit public interest law firm that champions a different approach. The firm helps communities draft local ordinances that place the rights of municipalities to govern themselves above corporate rights. Through its Democracy School, which offers seminars across the United States, it provides a detailed analysis of the history of corporate law and environmental regulation that shows a need for a complete overhaul of the system. Armed with this knowledge and with their well-crafted ordinances, citizens are able to return to their communities to begin organizing for the passage of laws such as Mt. Shasta’s proposed ordinance.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is collaborating with Global Exchange, an international environmental and workers’ rights organization, to help supporters of the Mt. Shasta ordinance organize. In an interview for this article, I asked Shannon Biggs, who directs Global Exchange’s Community Rights Program, if she expected ordinances of this type to be upheld in court. Biggs was dubious about judges “seeing the error of their ways” and reversing a centuries-old trend in which courts grant corporations increased power. Rather, she sees these ordinances as powerful educational and organizing tools that can lead to the major changes necessary to reduce corporate power, put decision-making back in the hands of real people rather than corporate “persons,” and open up whole new areas of rights, such as those of ecosystems and natural communities. Biggs connects the current municipal defiance of existing state and federal law to a long tradition of civil disobedience in the United States, harkening back to Susan B. Anthony illegally casting her ballot, the Underground Railroad flouting slave laws, and civil rights protesters purposely breaking segregation laws.
But the nascent municipal rights movement offers something new in the way of political action. These communities are adopting laws that, taken together, are forming an alternative structure to the global corporate economy. The principles behind these laws can be applied broadly to any area where corporate rights override local self-government or the well-being of the local ecology. The best place to start, I would suggest, is with banning corporations from making campaign contributions to local elections.
The municipal movement could provide one of the most effective routes to building nationwide support for an Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the movement is already expanding. In Pennsylvania, people are now organizing on the state level and similar stirrings have been reported in New Hampshire.
What about your community?
Allen D. Kanner, Ph.D., is a cofounder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, co-editor of Psychology and Consumer Culture and Ecopsychology, and a Berkeley, California child, family, and adult psychologist.