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E&E Publishing: Behind multiple local campaigns to ban fracking, one Pa. legal clinic
by Jennifer YachninE&E Publishing
March 31st, 2014
From grassroots organizing to help residents assert Community Rights to clean air, water, and the right to local self-governance in municipalities across the country, to a state constitutional amendment protecting the right to local self-governance in Colorado, CELDF's Ben Price shares CELDF's strategy to help communities facing environmental and economic harms.
Santa Fe New Mexican: Land grant group joins Mora fight against oil drilling
by Staci MatlockSanta Fe New Mexican
March 13th, 2014
Mora County, NM, is defending its Community Bill of Rights banning fracking against corporate law suits. The Mora Co Land Grant Association and a private individual filed as intervenors in support of the Mora County Commission, taking a stand for communites' rights.
The Huffington Post: Colorado Communities Could Ban Fracking Under New Proposed Amendment
by Andrea RaelThe Huffington Post
February 26th, 2014
A CELDF-drafted Colorado constitutional amendment is proposed that, if adopted, will secure residents' right to make the decisions about industrial activities - e.g. fracking - that directly impact them.
LandWatch Lane County: Interview with Ann Kneeland
by Ann KneelandLandWatch Lane County
January 29th, 2014
Recognizing that what is sustainable is also illegal under our current structure of law, attorney Ann Kneeland speaks to Community Rights organizing to change that legal structure. [See page 4]
LandWatch Lane County: Community Empowerment Challenges Corporate Personhood
by Richard GrossLandWatch Lane County
January 29th, 2014
Lane County residents determined to protect and maintain their local, sustainable, farm and food system, are using Community Rights to confront corporate "rights" and state preemption. [See page 2]
The Denver Post: Cities could block business, drilling, under Colorado ballot measure
by Mark JaffeThe Denver Post
January 22nd, 2014
A Colorado Community Rights constitutional amendment asserting residents have the right to protect themselves from harmful corporate practices through local self-government, raises state and gas and oil industry concerns that it won't be drilling as usual.
Santa Fe New Mexican: Mora County faces new lawsuit over drilling ban
by Staci MatlockSanta Fe New Mexican
January 20th, 2014
Mora County, NM, residents asserting their Community Rights to protect their water from fracking, face off against a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary declaring Mora residents have no right to make the decisions about what happens in their community.
E&E Publishing: New Mexico County Sued Again Over its Fracking Ban
by Mike LeeE&E Publishing
January 17th, 2014
Mora County, NM, which adopted a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance banning fracking in April 2013, is now being sued by an international oil company for daring to violate corporate claimed "rights," as the County Commissioners assert Community Rights to protect their county's air and water.
Resilience: A New Movement for Community Self-Determination
by David BollierResilience
December 18th, 2013
Blogger David Bollier sees Community Rights Networks as an antidote to corporations forcing themselves into communities and causing harm.
Press Release: East Boulder County United statement on COGA's lawsuit against Lafayette's Community Rights initiative
East Boulder County United
December 4th, 2013
East Boulder County United is the community group supporting Lafayette, CO's, Community Rights initiative banning fracking - adopted by 60% of the voters this fall. They take a stand against the oil and gas industry as a lawsuit is filed to overturn the will of the people to protect their air and water.
KUNC 91.5 Community Radio for Northern CO: Lafayette Fracking Opposition Reacts To COGA Lawsuit
by Nathan HeffelKUNC 91.5 Community Radio for Northern Colorado
December 4th, 2013
In Lafayette, where residents approved a Community Rights initiative banning fracking by 60%, supporters recognize the industry lawsuit to overturn their democratically approved ordinance as a civil rights issue.
The Denver Post: Oil and gas industry sues Lafayette and Fort Collins on fracking bans
by Mark JaffeThe Denver Post
December 3rd, 2013
The Colorado Oil & Gas Association asserts that Lafayette, CO, residents have no right to adopt a Community Rights ordinance prohibiting fracking. They are suing the city to have residents' Community Bill of Rights overturned.
KUSA-TV 9 News: Colorado Oil & Gas Association takes legal action against Fort Collins, Lafayette fracking bans
KUSA-TV 9 News
December 3rd, 2013
The Colorado Oil & Gas Association is taking legal action to overturn Lafayette's Community Bill of Rights banning fracking, adopted in November by over 60% of the community.
Santa Fe New Mexican: Mora County is leading the way
by Harry MontoyaSanta Fe New Mexican
December 1st, 2013
Former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya applauds Mora County Commissioners for their Community Rights ordinance banning fracking, and recognizes the lawsuit filed by corporate interests reveals the issue at hand: "[W]hose rights must, in the end, prevail - community majorities or corporate minorities?"
Green Fire Times: Mora County Commission Votes to Defend the CELDF Bill of Rights Ordinance
Green Fire Times
November 30th, 2013
Mora County Commissioners vote to defend their Community Rights ordinance, asserting Community Rights over corporate privileges.
Las Vegas Optic: God Bless Mora County
by Diana PresserLas Vegas Optic
November 27th, 2013
New Mexico resident urges San Miguel County to follow Mora County in adopting a Community Bill of Rights and protecting residents and ecosystems over corporate "rights" to cause harm.
Las Vegas Optic: David and Goliath in Mora County
by Molly Smollett, Lee Einer, et.al.Las Vegas Optic
November 27th, 2013
New Mexico residents applaud Mora County asserting their unalienable right to local self-government, regardless of claimed corporate "rights." And to those arguing that Community Rights are unconstitutional: So was abolishing slavery and establishing women's right to vote.
Santa Fe New Mexican: World is watching Mora County battle vs. fracking
by Staci MatlockSanta Fe New Mexican
November 23rd, 2013
Mora County, NM's, stand against corporate "rights" - prohibiting fracking through a Community Bill of Rights ordinance - remains strong in the face of industry's challenge in district court.
Grassroots Press: Mora County Commission Votes to Defend its CELDF Bill of Rights Ordinance that Bans Fracking
Grassroots Press
November 20th, 2013
The Mora County Commission voted unanimously yesterday in an historical vote to defend its CELDF Community Rights ordinance rather than to dismiss the ordinance.
E&E News: County Defends its Fracking Ban as it Declares Corporations Aren't People
by Mike LeeE & E Publishing
November 18th, 2013
[Correction: CELDF assists communities in drafting Community Rights laws. The Dryden, NY, ordinance banning fracking is not a Community Rights ordinance, and we did not assist in its drafting, as this article indicates.]
Climate Progress: Is Fracking a Civil Right?
by Emily AtkinClimate Progress
November 16th, 2013
Corporations and one person file suit claiming violations of 1st, 5th, & 14th amendment rights by the Mora County, NM, Community Rights Ordinance banning fracking. At stake: do corporate claimed "rights" to frack supersede Community Rights to clean air, water, and the right to local self-governance?
Gas Daily: Producers Sue New Mexico County Over [Community Rights] Drilling Ban
by Jim MagillGas Daily
November 15th, 2013
Corporate claims to constitutional "rights" come up against Mora County's Community Rights to make the decisions about those things directly impacting them - including protecting their water.
Las Vegas Optic: Mora sued over [Community Rights] ordinance
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
November 14th, 2013
Corporate plaintiffs complain that their "right" to profits (among others) are usurped by Mora County's Community Rights law asserting their community's right to local self-governance and banning fracking.
SF Gate: Oil and gas ban spurs lawsuit in NM county
by Susan Montoya BryanSF Gate
November 13th, 2013
Mora County, NM, is ready to defend its Community Rights Ordinance banning fracking as a violation of the community's right to clean water.
Read the Dirt: When The State Pushes Back
by Simon Davis-CohenRead the Dirt
October 8th, 2013
Editor Simon Davis-Cohen interviews CELDF's Pacific Northwest Community Organizer Kai Huschke about our structure of law and governance that functions to deny communities' rights when they interfere with corporate "rights," as seen today in both Washington State and Oregon.
Occupy.com: Local Lawmaking: A Call for a Community Rights Movement
by Thomas Linzey, Esq, Executive DirectorOccupy.com
July 2nd, 2013
CELDF's Thomas Linzey, Executive Director, on communities across the country practicing non-violent, civil disobedience through municipal law-making. These communities are challenging our legal system, stopping harmful corporate practices and creating the sustainable communities they envision. It is the beginnings of a Community Rights movement.
Occupy.com: How a Community Bill of Rights is Empowering People Against Corporations
by Matt HungerOccupy.com
June 18th, 2013
Taking rights to the community level: Occupy.com covers CELDF's work in supporting communities that are building a Community Rights movement.
In These Times: Frack Corporate Personhood
by Anthony MaginiIn These Times
May 8th, 2013
Word of Washington Co, PA, Judge O'Dell-Seneca's recent ruling that corporations do not count as people continues to spread.
Huffington Post: Heroic Women: Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca
by Alexia ParksHuffington Post
April 18th, 2013
The Huffington Post celebrates Judge O'Dell-Seneca's historic ruling that corporations are not "persons" and recognizes CELDF's work.
Truthout: Pennsylvania Court Deals Blow to Secrecy-Obsessed Fracking Industry
by Steven RosenfeldTruthout
April 15th, 2013
A Pennsylvania judge in the heart of the Keystone State’s fracking belt has issued a forceful and precedent-setting decision holding that there is no corporate right to privacy under that state’s constitution....CELDF's Thomas Linzey says “The ruling represents the first crack in the judicial armor that has been so meticulously welded together by major corporations."
CELDF - A New Civil Rights Movement: Liberating Our Communities from Corporate Control
by Thomas Linzey, Esq, Executive DirectorCELDF
March 28th, 2013
Last week, a Pennsylvania county court gave this new [Civil Rights] movement a boost – declaring that corporations are not “persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore, that corporations cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people. The ruling was delivered in a case...[to] release a sealed settlement agreement between a family claiming to be affected by water contamination from gas fracking, and Range Resources....In a landmark ruling, President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas denied the corporation’s request on the basis that the Pennsylvania Constitution only protects the rights of people, not business entities.
Truthout: An Addition to the Climate Movement-Civil Disobedience Toolkit
by Simon Davis-CohenTruthout
March 11th, 2013
Civil disobedience is the conscious refusal to obey an unjust law. Rosa Parks performed this form of civil disobedience when she refused to give up her seat. She broke the unjust law that she wanted to change. The 48 leaders who want to change the laws that privilege oil and gas corporations to extract, transport and sell North American fossil fuel were arrested for blocking a throughway in front of the White House....Should an American community elevate its community right to democratically protect its health, safety and welfare above the legal privileges that permit corporate oil and gas extraction and transportation, the community would confront the body of law that the climate movement is trying to change. Such action would introduce novel rights into America's legal structure, just as the civil rights movement did, and expose the fact that under current law exercising these rights is illegal.
Eugene Weekly: Local Laws: How communities can fight corporations
by Camilla MortensenEugene Weekly
February 28th, 2013
“We are screwed in all kinds of senses if we keep doing what we’re doing and don’t change course,” says Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)....CELDF, which started off as a free and affordable public interest law firm in Pennsylvania but now works across the U.S. and abroad, believes that a right to self-government has to be asserted in the local communities that are facing the environmental impacts....Local governments should be able to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies set by state and federal governments, CELDF says. But giving a small town the right to tell a multinational corporation that it can’t come in and frack natural gas wells, start a massive pig farm or put in a uranium mine isn’t easy. It’s not even legal.
The Nation: Rebel Towns
by Barry YeomanThe Nation
January 16th, 2013
Sugar Hill, [New Hampshire] became one of dozens of communities nationwide…that have reacted to environmental threats by directly challenging the Constitution and established case law. The leading champion of this confrontational strategy… attorney Thomas Linzey....[who] runs the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that advocates for local self-government and the rights of nature. CELDF comes into threatened communities, educates residents about US legal history, and trains them to advocate for “rights-based ordinances” like Sugar Hill’s. About thirty municipalities in [9 states] have enacted such measures, according to Linzey, following an earlier round of over 100 more modest laws. CELDF’s organizers have helped citizens fight frackers, coal companies, factory farms, big-box stores, water bottlers and sewage-sludge dumpers. They’ve campaigned to overhaul the city charter in Spokane, Washington. And they aided the successful effort to confer rights on nature in Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution.
Press Release: Spokane’s Move to Amend, Occupy Spokane, Envision Spokane, and CELDF Join Together to Advance Elections Ordinance Banning Corporate Involvement in Elections and Government While Stripping Corporate “Rights”
by CELDF
July 30th, 2012
Spokane, Washington (July 26) – Four organizations focused on limiting untoward corporate involvement in the community have joined together in Spokane, Washington to ballot-qualify a “Fair and Clean Elections and Government” ordinance. That local law would ban all corporate contributions to candidates and initiatives, prohibit corporate communications with elected officials outside of public fora, and remove corporate “rights” from corporations and other business entities violating the law.
Alliance for Sustainable Communities: The Importance of Being Radical
by Noël JonesAlliance for Sustainable Communities
July 9th, 2012
As an activist in Easton, there is one crucial challenge I have encountered in trying to engage residents in any cause, regardless of the issue. Whether it’s fighting fracking for natural gas, sewage sludge fertilization, landfills—the challenge is fragmentation. People—good people—are very busy, working hard to sustain themselves and their families, and they have little free time to divide among additional pursuits. When they do commit to carving out time for meetings, there tend to be so many issues facing any given community, that each community will be fragmented in their efforts....But there is good news—a possible silver bullet that can streamline our efforts to eradicate the root of the disease, rather than wasting scarce time and precious energy running around fighting symptoms wherever they crop up. That silver bullet is to declare and establish local self-governance at the municipal level according to state constitutional rights, including the right to deny corporations the ability to invade communities and run roughshod over The People.
Volatility: The CELDF Strategy, and Similar Actions
Volatility
May 19th, 2012
We’re trying to build a new society, and rebuild a natural one, based on Food Sovereignty and true democracy. The negative aspect of this is to abolish corporations and dissolve centralized hierarchies in general. Finding focus on these simple goals is hard enough. But even among those of us who agree on the basic goals, there’s great strategic and tactical uncertainty. We can agree that in the end on bottom-up action, especially direct action, movement-building, and mutual assistance, will work. We can agree that the officially allowed modes of “action”, electoral voting and other passive, process “politics” and consumerism, cannot work. But there’s an array of possible actions while lies somewhere between direct action and kettled process reformism which may, depending on the circumstance, the operational goal, and the execution, lie on the vector toward the great democratic goal. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) strategy for local-level constitutionalism and anti-corporate ordinances is a good example of this.
Envision Seattle: Pacific Northwest Emerging as a Stronghold for a New Kind of Activism
Envision Seattle
April 26th, 2012
[CELDF note: The Dryden, NY ordinance referred to below is not a rights-based, CELDF drafted ordinance.] There's a new form of activism gaining strength in the Pacific Northwest. Citizen organizers in three Washington cities are gathering signatures to place initiatives on the November ballot that would limit corporate power and elevate peoples' rights above corporate rights: 1) Seattle's Initiative 103 would reverse the impact of Citizens United locally by banning corporate speech in city elections as well as establishing a basic Community Bill of Rights, including rights for nature. 2) Coal Free Bellingham's Prop 2 would strip judge-made "constitutional rights" and establish similar community rights aimed at stopping a massive coal train export operation and deep water shipping terminal. 3) Spokane's gathering signatures for a third effort at making its Community Bill of Rights law. In November 2011, voters narrowly rejected an earlier initiative by less than a thousand votes. All three initiatives have their roots in legal ordinances drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
SantaFe.com: The Cultural Reemergence of Democracy
by Faren DancerSantaFe.com
April 24th, 2012
In these challenging, if not fascinating, times, there is opportunity for advancing ourselves individually and as a culture. The sense of powerlessness that comes with scarcity, is readily offset by a creative resolve and the reinvention of one’s personal status quo. When it comes to the larger cultural phenomenon of citizens and communities taking back the inherent, inalienable rights upon which our republic was founded, this grassroots effort demonstrates that democracy may be alive and well. The progress toward personal and community empowerment is being driven by what is just and sustainable for the future of our children and our environment....The CELDF mission is to change the very fabric of our constitutional law, whereas communities, municipalities and local citizens would have the ultimate control over their own land, resources, water tables, watersheds, lakes and streams. Doesn’t this sound like the way it should be?
Wisdom Voices: Thomas Linzey - "We're beginning to awake from our slumber"
by Joanne BoyerWisdom Voices
April 1st, 2012
Grassroots organizing. Local communities reinserting themselves into the decision making process that impacts their communities. “We the People” reclaiming our role in democracy. Those elements serve as the most effective tools at our disposal today to fight the environmental battles of the 21st century says Thomas Linzey, Executive Director and co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. “There cannot be sustainability unless people who are impacted by certain decisions are actually making the decisions about what impacts their communities,” Linzey said in a recent interview with Wisdom Voices.
New Hampshire Public Radio: Northern Pass Foes Eye New Tactic: Attacking Corporate Power
by Chris JensenNew Hampshire Public Radio
February 9th, 2012
North Country, NH - Town meetings begin next month. One issue some towns are looking at is a radical new tactic ultimately designed to challenge the legal power of corporations. Opponents of the Northern Pass hydroelectric project are at the forefront of the move....Sugar Hill is among a handful of North Country towns considering what’s called a rights-based ordinance. Such an ordinance declares that people have the right to say “no” to big corporations.
Daily Kos: Can a community defy a cabal of multi-national corporations?
by James WellsDaily Kos
February 8th, 2012
Conventional wisdom says no. Their elephant feet will simply stomp you. Armed with lawyers, guns, and money, they will have their way. But maybe it is possible to be fast enough, nimble enough, and most of all, persuasive enough, that the Mumakil will be bewildered and will run off. Maybe CW does not cover all possibilities....Despite diligent efforts by the terminal project planners to bully and fool us into participating in our own destruction, this proposal has galvanized opposition, starting locally in the vicinity of the nearest sizeable town of Bellingham WA, and now spreading along the entire transit route.
Discovery News: Mother Nature Gets Her Day in Court
by Tim WallDiscovery News
January 27th, 2012
Ecuador and Bolivia granted legal rights to the environment within the past few years. But what are those rights and can they really be enforced? "The rights of nature laws recognize the rights of ecosystems and natural communities to exist, to flourish, to regenerate, and to evolve," Mari Margil, associate director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), told Discovery News. CELDF helped Ecuador write the rights of nature into legal reality. "The rights of nature laws move nature from being considered 'property' under the law to being recognized as 'rights bearing' under the law," said Margil. But laws are nothing but ink on paper if not enforced. A court case in Ecuador showed that these Earth friendly laws have claws and aren't just idealistic public relations legislation.
Santa Monica Daily Press: Council supports rights of environment, corporations
by Ashley ArchibaldSanta Monica Daily News
January 25th, 2012
CITY HALL — A dual measure before the City Council Tuesday to support legal protections for the environment and end corporate personhood got a split response from elected officials who enthusiastically supported a healthy environment but watered down the call to restrict rights to living beings. Council members unanimously passed a resolution backing a bill of rights for the environment, which would give legal standing to city officials to protect the environment within Santa Monica's borders if passed as a law in the future.
Santa Monica Patch: Council Moves Toward Making 'Green' Goals Mandatory
by Jenna ChandlerSanta Monica Patch
January 25th, 2012
In the near future, Santa Monica residents might find that the city's goals such as those aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption are legally mandated. With overwhelming support from high school clubs, neighborhood and grass-roots organizations, and environmental activists, the City Council voted Tuesday night to look into giving teeth to a voluntary "sustainable-city plan." It approved a resolution declaring that in conjunction with revising its six-year-old sustainability plan, it would draft this year policies that would allow residents and the city to sue to protect local, natural resources threatened by corporations. The resolution is also the first step toward enacting a "Sustainability Bill of Rights," written and approved in June by the Task Force on the Environment.
Santa Monica Lookout: Santa Monica Adopts Sustainability Bill of Rights, Rejects Motion for Constitutional Amendment
by Jason IslasSanta Monica Lookout
January 25th, 2012
Santa Monica's City Council voted on Tuesday to recognize the rights of natural communities to exist. The resolution, drafted by the Task Force on the Environment, calls for Santa Monica to “recognize the rights of people, natural communities, and ecosystems to exist, regenerate and flourish,” according to City Staff. Dean Kubani, director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, said that the declaration acknowledges “the rights of Santa Monica residents to clean water, clean air” and other aspects of a clean environment. The resolution, which passed unanimously, would be the first step toward establishing legislation in the City that supports the goals it outlines.
Santa Monica Patch: Tonight: Admonishing 'Corporate Personhood'
by Jenna ChandlerSanta Monica Patch
January 24th, 2012
Santa Monica might jump aboard the anti-corporate personhood bandwagon Tuesday night....It will weigh moving forward on whether to adopt a "Sustainability Bill of Rights" for Santa Monica....The first local law recognizing the rights of nature was adopted in 2006 in Tamaqua Borough, PN [sic]. In December 2010, Pittsburgh became the first major city in the United States to adopt a community bill of rights that bans corporations from drilling natural gas within its city limits, putting the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporations.
Truthout: How Can Communities Defend Themselves From Corporate Interests?
by Rose AguilarTruthout
January 23rd, 2012
Why isn't activism working? It's not for lack of trying, says self-described recovering environmental attorney Thomas Linzey. The environmental community has created a slew of environmental laws and launched an alphabet soup of environmental regulatory agencies, but what do they really do? Linzey says they merely regulate the level of harm and amount of poisons that can be legally injected into our water, soil and air; they're not designed to stop it. In the new book, "Be The Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community," Thomas Linzey and Anneke Campbell, an environmental justice documentary filmmaker, argue that it's time to stop begging the government and corporations to cause less harm. It's time to replace corporate minority decision-making with community self-government.
Salon: The hard truth about Citizens United
by Steven RosenfeldSalon
January 21st, 2012
The movement to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling and confront the doctrine of “corporate personhood” stands at a perilous crossroads. Across the country, two distinct strategies are converging on Congress....The first would address campaign finance setbacks....The second would go further and seek to revoke the status of corporations as persons under the Constitution...But...Ben Price, project director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) [said] “[The movement to overturn Citizens United] won’t bring the outcomes that are needed.”
Global Exchange's People to People Blog: The Best Government the 1% Can Buy: Is Reversing Citizens United or Corporate Personhood Enough?
by Shannon BiggsGlobal Exchange
January 19th, 2012
Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?” If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt? While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.
CELDF Press Release: Statement on Activism Related to Citizens United and a Model Bill of Rights Elections Ordinance
by CELDF
January 17th, 2012
Mercersburg, PA: With the two year anniversary of the Citizens United decision upon us, today the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) released a statement examining the activism that’s emerged in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision, and declaring the need to build a broader movement. For nearly a decade, CELDF has assisted communities to adopt first-in-the-nation laws which refuse to recognize “corporate rights.” The current activism that’s emerged in the wake of Citizens United – in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that corporate First Amendment “free speech rights” were violated by federal law which limited corporate spending in elections – seeks merely to return to pre-Citizens United days. Yet, as CELDF examines in its statement, corporate “free speech rights” were around long before Citizens United.
Yes! Magazine: A Bill of Rights for Occupied Communities
by Jeff Reifman and Thomas LinzeyYes! Magazine
January 3rd, 2012
When communities try to keep corporations from engaging in activities they don’t want, they often find they don’t have the legal power to say “no.” Why? Because our current legal structure too often protects the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual human beings. If we are to elevate our rights and the rights of our communities above those of a corporate few, we, too, need to transform the way laws work....This style of organizing moves away from traditional activism—mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation—toward a new activism in which communities claim the right to make their own decisions, directly. To help them do so, we’re offering the model Community Bill of Rights template below, a legislative template for communities that want to protect their own rights.
Progressive Voices: Lessons for Occupy — Richard Grossman: “Outlaw the Corporation”
Progressive Voices
November 29th, 2011
RUSSELL MOKHIBER, http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter. His books include “Corporate Predators: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy.” He just wrote the piece “Richard Grossman 1943-2011.” Mokhiber said today: “When I first met him over 20 years ago, Richard Grossman was making the inside the beltway public interest groups nervous. He was calling them out for supporting ‘regulation’ of corporate wrongdoing. Instead of allowing companies to pollute a certain amount, Grossman would make it a crime to pollute even a little. Instead of regulating the nuclear power or fracking industries, he would brand them criminal enterprises and outlaw them.
The Washington Post: Richard L. Grossman, organizer who sought to curtail corporate power, has died
by Emily LangerThe Washington Post
November 29th, 2011
Richard L. Grossman, a community organizer who sought to curtail big business by raising public awareness about what he regarded as corporate abuse of power, died Nov. 22 at a hospital in New York City. He was 68 and had metastatic melanoma, said his daughter, Alyssa Grossman. Mr. Grossman worked on a variety of progressive causes during his four-decade career. In the 1970s, while living in the Washington area, he founded Environmentalists for Full Employment, a group that sought to unite environmental activists and unions. In the 1980s, he worked at the Highlander Research and Education Center, a social justice organization in Tennessee, and was executive director of Greenpeace USA.
The Most Revolutionary Act: Ending Corporate Rule: the Citizens’ Rights Movement
by Dr. Stuart BramhallThe Most Revolutionary Act
November 15th, 2011
One very successful anti-corporate movement that receives virtually no mainstream or alternative media coverage is the eleven year old citizens’ rights movement. With the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund ... and Global Exchange ... more than 100 communities across the US have enacted ordinances establishing local citizen rights that can’t be usurped by corporations.
Truthout: End Corporate Personhood
by Thom HarmannTruthout
November 8th, 2011
Arizona changed its law after 1886 so that the word person would include nonliving as well as living legal entities: “‘Person’ includes a corporation, company, partnership, firm, association or society, as well as a natural person.” Many states have varying definitions of person depending on the part of law at issue....[W]hat is needed is a foundational change in the definition of the relationship between living human beings and the nonliving legal fictions we call corporations. Only when corporations are again legally subordinate to those who authorized them—humans and the governments representing them—will true change be possible.
Corporate Crime Reporter: Grossman Says Citizens United, Personhood Fetish, Greed and Corruption Are Diversions
Corporate Crime Reporter
October 17th, 2011
Careful now. Don’t repeat the signs on the street. Think first. Beware of diversions. So warns Richard Grossman. “There's no shortage of corruption and greed going all around,” says Richard Grossman. “But corruption and greed are not the problem. They are diversions.”
CELDF: The Real Frackasaurus Coloring Book
by Ben Price, Projects DirectorCELDF
August 30th, 2011
With a corporate challenge to its local law, you might think South Fayette finds itself in the middle of a battle over democratic local self-governance. But by avoiding the core question of who has rights in South Fayette Township (the people, or corporations?), and by attempting to regulate the location of fracking in a way the State seems to say is legal, rather than banning it on the grounds that fracking is a violation of fundamental rights that belong to everyone, the municipality set up its residents for a fall nine months ago, and hundreds of other municipalities are following the same legal advice: to color inside the lines; work within the system; and don’t rock the boat.
The Davis Enterprise: Corporate rights trump our own needs
by Susan MonheitThe Davis Enterprise
August 13th, 2011
I had an epiphany at the last city of Davis Planning Commission meeting. I had gone there with the mistaken impression that it was the Planning Commission that was trying to push an unwanted and unneeded distributed antenna system through the public approval process. As distasteful as that idea is, I had no idea how ugly and nefarious the real truth would be. As City Attorney Harriet Steiner laid out the background for this case, I began to grasp the magnitude and gravity of the situation. Are you sitting down? This is what I pieced together:
AlterNet: Banning Corporate Personhood: How Communities Are Taking the Law Back from Big Companies
by Sabrina ArtelAlterNet
July 16th, 2011
These last few days for gas drilling news in New York [h]as [sic] been critical and a new level of urgency has been reached as the country watches how New York defines and decides its fate, the future of its famous unfiltered water supply, and communities in the directly impacted regions, whether for or against drilling are forging ahead to determine their immediate future and that for future generations.
Canon-McMillan Patch: MarkWest Claims it Has Rights, Cecil Residents Don't
by Eric BelcastroCanon-McMillan Patch
July 13th, 2011
On March 30th 2011 after three previous public hearings Cecil Township denied Colorado based MarkWest's request for a special exception to build a compressor station on Coleman Road. In it's appeal of the decision to the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, MarkWest claimed “In denying special exception approval, the board...violated MarkWest's constitutional rights...” A similar claim was made recently when the EPA in it's investigation found that Range Resources “caused or contributed” to the contamination of two residential water wells in Parker County, Texas. Range Resources claimed that it was “denied it's constitutional right of due process by the agency.”
Canon-McMillan Patch: MarkWest Claims it Has Rights, Cecil Residents Don't
by Eric BelcastroCanon-McMillan Patch
July 13th, 2011
CELDF Community Organizer Eric Belcastro writes: On March 30th 2011 after three previous public hearings Cecil Township denied Colorado based MarkWest's request for a special exception to build a compressor station on Coleman Road. In it's appeal of the decision to the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, MarkWest claimed “In denying special exception approval, the board...violated MarkWest's constitutional rights...." ... Such arguments are commonplace, but constitutional rights were meant for people so we can at least breathe a sigh of relief knowing these arguments won't be taken seriously. Right? Well, you see that is where this gets a bit tricky. Because apparently judges have ruled that corporations are “people” and thus have constitutional rights.
Charleston Daily Mail: Company to seek millions if gas drilling ban upheld
Charleston Daily Mail
July 9th, 2011
CELDF Commentary: "Attorneys for a West Virginia Corporation threaten to sue the City of Morgantown West Virginia for violating the Civil Rights of the corporation if the City's ordinance banning natural gas drilling is upheld as legal by the Monogalia County Circuit Court." So, even if the ban is legal, the corporation attorneys say the corporation has rights that the City has no authority to violate. Too bad Morgantown didn't adopt a Community Rights Ordinance to ban the drilling. Then the attorneys for the City could readily make the case that the City adopted the ordinance precisely to protect rights: the legitimate rights of the residents of the City, which are under threat of violation by the North East Energy Corporation. The Community Rights ordinances adopted by Pittsburgh, West Homestead, and Baldwin, PA, as well as Mountain Lake Park, WV and Wales, NY recognize the rights of the people as superior to privileges granted to corporations in the name of the people, and those ordinance revoke such privileges from corporations that would attempt to violate the prohibition against drilling and thereby violate the rights of community residents. So which is it? Corporations have Civil Rights, or People have Civil Rights? Isn't it time we took a stand to clear the air? Isn't it time for your community to adopt a Community Rights Ordinance and stop letting corporate claims to superior rights for corporations over people go unchallenged? Contact info@CELDF.org
Wausau Daily Herald: Lohr column: Corporations are not 'we the people'
by Rick Lohrwausuadailyherald.com
July 1st, 2011
Corporations vs. natural persons has become the central political contest of our time. What are some of the dangers of this conflict in a democratic society?
BoiseWeekly.com: Getting Fracked - Learning to say no to big corporate interests
by Kai HuschkeBoise Weekly
June 22nd, 2011
Exploding gas wells, poisoned water, plummeting property value, dead fish, roadside dumping of toxic waste ... the evidence that communities are being turned into resource colonies of gas drilling corporations is everywhere. In cahoots with the gas industry are the state lawmakers who continue to clear the way for frackers.... To attempt to treat only the environmental, health and economic symptoms of this problem would be a mistake: We need to cure the disease that allows these symptoms to spread unchecked but first we need to understand what the barriers are.
Shasta and Goliath: Bringing Down Corporate Rule
January 14th, 2011
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.
‘No fracking way!’ A new civil rights movement challenges corporate ‘personhood’
by Tim JohnsonCascadia Weekly
January 12th, 2011
In the four decades since Martin Luther King Jr.’s crusade for social and civil rights was cut short, most gains have been less in the realm of human rights than the realm of corporate rights—culminating in a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that removed any doubt that the high court can sense a meaningful distinction between the two. Yet, with their limited liability and limitless lifespans and access to capital and the courts, the Corporate is fast becoming the dominant life form on the planet. It becomes notable, then, when the little guy—the Human—pushes back.
Pittsburgh Bans Fracking, Eliminates Some Rights of Corporate Personhood With New Ordinance
by Matthew McDermottTree Hugger
November 17th, 2010
Provisions in the ordinance eliminate corporate "personhood" rights within the city for corporations seeking to drill, and remove the ability of corporations to wield the Commerce and Contracts Clauses of the U.S. Constitution to override community decision-making. In addition, with adoption of the ordinance, Pittsburgh became the first city in the U.S. to recognize legally binding rights of nature. By recognizing the rights of nature, Pittsburgh is effectively protecting ecosystems and natural communities within the city from efforts by corporations to drill there--and by other levels of government to authorize that drilling. Residents of Pittsburgh are empowered by the ordinance to enforce those rights on behalf of threatened ecosystems.
Monroe rejects corporate personhood
by Ethan AndrewsRepublican Journal
June 16th, 2010
In a move that supporters say would protect the town against corporate exploitation, Monroe residents at the annual town meeting June 14 approved a new ordinance that denies the rights of personhood to corporations. The "Town of Monroe Local Self-Government Ordinance," as the new law is called, goes against state and federal laws that affirm and protect the rights of corporations as though they were people. This conflict was cited in an opinion from the Maine Municipal Association solicited by town officials, which stated that the ordinance overstepped the bounds of local governance.
How companies became ‘persons’
by Clarence PageChicago Tribune
January 27th, 2010
Riddle me this: When is a corporation like a freed slave? Answer: When it is trying to win human rights in a case before the Supreme Court.
Op/Ed: Whose Rights?
by Thomas Linzey and Mari MargilYes! Magazine
January 21st, 2010
Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment—was inevitable.
When Is a Corporation Like a Freed Slave?
by Barry YeomanMother Jones
November 1st, 2006
In rural Pennsylvania, township supervisors battling sewage sludge and hog manure stumble up against one of the biggest mysteries in constitutional law.
Consent of the Governed: The reign of corporations and the fight for democracy
by Jeffrey KaplanOrion Magazine
November 1st, 2003
Throughout the twentieth century, federal courts have granted U.S. corporations additional rights that once applied only to human beings—including those of “due process” and “equal protection.”
How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy
by Jane GreerU.U. World
May 1st, 2003
While some Pennsylvania counties were battling corporate farms, others were lobbying against corporate sewage sludge haulers.
Licking says corporations don't have "people" rights
by Tom DiStefanoClarion News
March 12th, 2003
Licking Township became the second municipality in the United States to declare that corporations do not have the constitutional rights of people.