Confront Corporate Personhood: Take Back our Planet

From Common Dreams:

by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and Heather Buckner

With the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day this week, we have to wonder why the health of the planet is at an all time low.

How many people do you know who would aspire for a world without clean water to drink? How many are in favor of acid rain, food poisoning, or natural disaster? What about asthma? Higher cancer rates? Starvation? Do many of your friends dream of a United States without our glorious mountain-scapes, deciduous forests, or glistening lakes? Would any rational person want these things for their country, their children, themselves? The answer, obviously, is no, they wouldn’t.

Numerous surveys and polls reinforce the reality that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of environmental protections. In fact, when asked to choose between environmental regulation and energy production, a whopping 94% of Americans believe in prioritizing protection of clean water and air over all else.

The American people don’t want to destroy our environment, contaminate our water, poison our bodies, and clog our skies. To the contrary, we would overwhelmingly prefer increased regulation in order to protect our resources and sustain our earth. If this is so clearly the case, why then is the natural world literally being destroyed before our eyes? Why are there are no adequate laws controlling oil, food, water, land, and air, and why are the meager regulations we do have being blatantly ignored and repeatedly overturned?

The answers to these disconcerting questions are rooted in a history of concentrated power, corruption, and specifically, some very questionable Supreme Court decisions regarding the U.S Constitution. In January 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that “corporations are persons” under the first amendment, essentially entitling them to spend unlimited, unchecked money on political expenditures.

This ruling doesn’t come out of nowhere. Indeed, it is merely the latest in a series of decisions dating back to the late 1800s which have granted corporations rights as human beings, allowing them to avoid regulation, and resulting in uncontrollable corporate influence over politics.

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