Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Location
Washington, District of Columbia,
Birthday
August 01
Bio
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 4, 2011 10:05AM

Citizens United constitutional amendment falls short

Rate: 7 Flag

This generation’s most important legislation is still just a halfway measure

constitution In the coming days, you’ll hear more about legislation unveiled this week by New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall. It would give Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign contributions. A Constitutional Amendment to Reform Campaign Finance, is proposed as a remedy to the infamous Citizens United decision. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court awarded near unlimited political power to corporations.

But Udall’s amendment won’t solve the problem.

Sure, the legislation is an important step. It ought to be ratified. But Udall’s amendment is a narrow solution—just for the issue of campaign spending. The joint resolution—which is how constitutional amendments are filed—simply restores regulatory authority to congress and the states. (Ironically, this was an area where Arizona was a leader before its law was overturned by the same SCOTUS using the same odd logic.)

Yet it does nothing to address the most egregious aspect of Citizens United, something I call “creeping personhood.” Creeping personhood is the growing list of citizen rights and privileges accorded to non-human entities. One hundred years from now, this notion will either be considered laughable by historians or else corporations will have voting rights.

Here’s how it happened:

In the original decision establishing corporate personhood, 1819’s Dartmouth vs. Woodward, corporations were granted rights to make and enforce contracts. In 1886, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad granted (by inference) equal protection to corporations. Both were reasonable responses to real issues of tort law. However the way each was decided opened the door to creeping personhood. Creep, creep…

Another SCOTUS decision, Buckley v. Valeo, had found that campaign donations are a form of speech. Creep, creep…

Then Citizens United granted personhood to corporations as regards “free speech” essentially giving them a First Amendment right. The Roberts Court, in a 5-4 decision, further said that free political speech is necessary for democracy, and that it was no less true if the speech comes from a corporation. Creep, creep…

So now the First Amendment applies to corporations. Spending is speech. And corporations are free to spend whatever they want and to keep this spending a secret. This is true even if the spending is to influence government to give them an unfair advantage over other, actual citizens. Or even over another actual corporation. The current House of Representatives—in the way it entirely ignores the will of large majorities of citizens—is the end product of corporate ownership.

The richest corporations get to use government to dominate people. And even to dominate less powerful corporations. They own law-making. They bought it. But it isn’t democracy if you can buy it, now is it?

So our fundamental concern is not campaign finance, but the idea that corporations are people. This ugly wart on logic and law will continue to revisit us until it is excised. What is needed is a straightforward constitutional amendment to clarify personhood. Something like:

  1. A human person is a living, breathing, and born human of human biology and having the ability to act and reason as an individual, corporeal being.
  2. Only a human person who meets other requirements for citizenship is eligible to be a citizen of the United States of America.
  3. Any other entity, corporation or legal construct may be granted limited representational rights to due process and tort claim in the disposition of contractual obligations, but shall enjoy no right or privilege of citizenship. Entities not meeting the requirement of sections one and two above are non-persons.
  4. Granting of representational rights or obligations to non-persons shall be made in specific law passed in accordance with Article One of this Constitution. No other right shall be inferred or derived.

By clearly establishing that corporations are not people, actual people can reestablish the original form and nature of our democracy. It is this generation’s most important job.

Fixing campaign finance doesn’t go nearly far enough. We need to fix the notion that corporations are people.

Tom Udall, Citizens United, constitution, amendment, campaign finance, Jimmy Zuma, corporate personhood, Supreme Court, SCOTUS

This generation’s most important legislation misses the mark

In the coming days, you’ll hear more about legislation unveiled this week by New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall. It would give Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign contributions. A Constitutional Amendment to Reform Campaign Finance, is proposed as a remedy to the infamous Citizens United decision. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court awarded near unlimited political power to corporations.

Udall’s amendment won’t solve the problem

Sure, the legislation is an important step. It ought to be ratified. But Udall’s amendment is a narrow solution—just for the issue of campaign spending. The joint resolution—which is how constitutional amendments are filed—simply restores regulatory authority to congress and the states. (Ironically, this was an area where Arizona was a leader before its law was overturned by the same SCOTUS using the same odd logic.)

Yet it does nothing to address the most egregious aspect of Citizens United, something I call “creeping personhood.” Creeping personhood is the growing list of citizen rights and privileges accorded to non-human entities. One hundred years from now, this notion will either be considered laughable by historians or else corporations will have voting rights.

Here’s how it happened

In the original decision establishing corporate personhood, 1819’s Dartmouth vs. Woodward, corporations were granted rights to make and enforce contracts. In 1886, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad granted (by inference) equal protection to corporations. Both were reasonable responses to real issues of tort law. However the way each was decided opened the door to creeping personhood. Creep, creep…

Another SCOTUS decision, Buckley v. Valeo, had found that campaign donations are a form of speech. Creep, creep…

Then Citizens United granted personhood to corporations as regards “free speech” essentially giving them a First Amendment right. The Roberts Court, in a 5-4 decision, further said that free political speech is necessary for democracy, and that it was no less true if the speech comes from a corporation. Creep, creep…

So now the First Amendment applies to corporations. Spending is speech. And corporations are free to spend whatever they want and to keep this spending a secret. This is true even if the spending is to influence government to give them an unfair advantage over other, actual citizens. Or even over another actual corporation. The current House of Representatives—in the way it entirely ignores the will of large majorities of citizens—is the end product of corporate ownership.

The richest corporations get to use government to dominate people. And even to dominate less powerful corporations. They own law-making. They bought it. But it isn’t democracy if you can buy it, now is it?

The real fix

So our fundamental concern is not campaign finance, but the idea that corporations are people. This ugly wart on logic and law will continue to revisit us until it is excised. What is needed is a straightforward constitutional amendment to clarify personhood. Something like:

  1. A human person is a living, breathing, and born human of human biology and having the ability to act and reason as an individual, corporeal being.
  2. Only a human person who meets other requirements for citizenship is eligible to be a citizen of the United States of America.
  3. Any other entity, corporation or legal construct may be granted limited representational rights to due process and tort claim in the disposition of contractual obligations, but shall enjoy no right or privilege of citizenship. Entities not meeting the requirement of sections one and two above are non-persons.
  4. Granting of representational rights or obligations to non-persons shall be made in specific law passed in accordance with Article One of this Constitution. No other right shall be inferred or derived.

By clearly establishing that corporations are not people, actual people can reestablish the original form and nature of our democracy. It is this generation’s most important job.

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Comments

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In going with my personhood motto for today, and on a lighter note, if Citizen's United is a person, then where is the fertilized egg?!
Great points, and sorry to say, no chance of change with our current Court!
The most hypocritical thing about creeping personhood is it being foisted off on us by judges who claim to be "originalists". The Originals must be rolling in their graves at the notion that corporations -- which most of the Founders despised, thanks to the infamous East India Company -- are entitled to the same inalienable rights as persons.
if the living, breathing persons want democracy, they can have it. but they don't.

they prefer being cattle, and demanding the ranchers be nice.
I agree! thanks.

The Corporate Occupation of the United States

Our corporate controlled government (through corporate lobbying and election funding ) is out of the peoples control. People want government control back. Makes sense to me... I feel US corporate capitalism (corporatism) is a type of economic fascism: To have a corporate being where the chain of command eventually muddles all responsibility to any human being. These corporate beings are running your life and controlling your government. (Enough to really make an individual mad and protest.) The corporate being does not exist, and when it comes to face it's corporate responsibility, it is a piece of paper. That is plain and simply wrong. Restore capitalism to individual responsible chains of command, or this struggle will be lost. (This also includes corporate lobbying and corporate election funding, being outlawed; and a new form closer to individual control is established.)

Please Sign the petition to amend the Constitution for revoking corporate personhood at:

movetoamend.org

January 20, 2012 – Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!

Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark this
notorious date — Occupy the Courts — a one day occupation
on Friday January 20, 2012, of the Federal Courts, including
the Supreme Court of the United States and as many of the
89 U.S. District Court Buildings as we can. Inspired by Dr. Cornell
West, who was arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court last
month, Move to Amend will lead the charge on the judiciary which
created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.


http://open.salon.com/blog/kennspace/2011/10/28/corporate_occupation_of_the_united_states_1
You write: "So our fundamental concern is not campaign finance, but the idea that corporations are people. "

Hey, Jimmy, you're correct, but the big beneficial splash from dissolving corporate personhood will come from the campaign finance reform to follow.

Specifically, limiting political donations to breathing US Citizens only (no corporations, no unions, no PACs). With full transparency.

Any attempt to limit amounts of contributions may be found to be unconstitutional.
But I for one, don't care.
Let Charles & David Koch and George Soros give as much as they please.
Let each leap-frog the other until they go broke in the process.

But let us watch (transparency) and let the donations be made individually.
Asking Congress to fix the problem they created won't work. this has to be handled in a public forum with the participation of the public with the help of a variety of researchers that come up with proposals then it should be put directly on a ballot presented to the public.

Where ballot initiatives aren't available they should be made available.
"This generation’s most important legislation is still just a halfway measure "

This ridiculous lead (most important!?) discredits all that follows, which I didn't bother to read.