[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 62, Issue 22

marianne holm hansen m.h.hansen at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Jan 25 05:12:42 EST 2010

YES! that's it!

Marianne Holm Hansen
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7916 1937
Mobile: +44 (0)79 6084 9117
Web: http://www.criticalm.org

> From: Christina Spiesel <christina.spiesel at yale.edu>
> Reply-To: christina.spiesel at yale.edu, soft_skinned_space
> <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 12:32:25 -0500
> To: jhaber at haberarts.com, soft_skinned_space <empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 62, Issue 22
> Maybe the solution is to demand that corporations that engage in fraud
> or other misbehavior have to cease operations for a period  equivalent
> to sentencing imprisonment for persons and that if they kill, they are
> subject to a "death penalty" of dismantlement?
> Christina
> John Haber wrote:
>> I must say I'm a little appalled at the idea that the problem is the
>> 14th amendment itself and, in particular, that it must be challenged
>> because it's inherently unfair to single out former slaves, whereas a
>> better legal framework would guarantee protection for all.  There's a
>> lot wrong here. 
>> First, the 14th amendment already does say plain and simply that all
>> persons deserve equal rights under the law.  Its only mention of slavery
>> is in the last clause, to state that we didn't have to reimburse former
>> slave owners.  It's the 13th amendment, freeing the slaves, and the
>> 15th, giving them the vote, that mention "race, color, or previous
>> condition of servitude," and I trust we don't wish to rescind those.
>> Second, what if it had specifically addressed the rights of African
>> Americans?  It's disgusting to think that there's anything wrong with
>> that.  It sounds like the right wingers complaining that whites are
>> suffering from civil rights.  In fact, it sounds like the position of
>> the faction of the court that reached this awful decision.
>> Third, one could, I suppose, argue that the amendment could have been
>> phrased differently to make clear that persons were, well, people.  The
>> trouble is that the current interpretation is so ludicrous that no one
>> would ever have thought of that before.
>> Now, it's not easy to explain how the idea of corporations as persons
>> under the 14th amendment came to be, along with the second plank, of
>> money as speech.  It would not have occurred to a nation after the Civil
>> War, when corporations were relatively rare, less powerful, and often
>> nonprofit.  It would seem to be denied by the text of the amendment
>> itself, which starts with the phrase "born or naturalized," thus, at
>> least to me, implying that "persons" are going to be life forms.
>> It's a long history, and I'm not really qualified to tell it, so I'll
>> let you look it up.  It started with a mere aside or note in a decision
>> largely unrelated to the point from a conservative court.  Even then, it
>> only slowly attained much value as precedent.  It certainly didn't imply
>> all this till this week.  I recommend Stevens's dissent, in fact, where
>> he starts right in by pointing out that, whatever value we agree to give
>> to corporate rights as persons, they're not the same as human rights
>> since, for example, corporations can't vote or hold office (his
>> examples).  Then he notes the 100 years of precedent that this decision
>> broke. 
>> Anyhow, we could blame the American legal system, but I suggest we start
>> blaming the Republicans.  I know it's hard for us liberals to organize
>> rather than mourn (or backbite).  I sure felt that this week, with the
>> reaction to the Massachusetts election and the readiness to blame those
>> who actually supported a more liberal health-care bill rather than scum
>> like Nelson, Landrieu, Snowe and the fiercer rest of her party, and the
>> media network putting out their lies.  But consider it.  Had Bush not
>> got a second term, with Alito and Roberts appointed to the court, this
>> decision would not have happened, and indeed no one would ever have
>> dreamed it would happen.
>> To put it another way, perhaps more relevant to Empyre, this isn't about
>> legal or critical theory.  It's about politics and power, and the bad
>> guys won.
>> John
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