Words Help us topple corporate rule

Strange dramas are unfolding these days in the Ohio Statehouse and City Hall in Columbus. While concerned Ohioans rally around citizen initiatives to ensure our rights, legislators are reeling out laws to limit those rights. Lawmakers opposing affordable healthcare, safe water, and other popular measures cite divisions among their constituents. Common sense and lopsided funding against citizen proposals reveal that objections pivot less on differences between Ohioans than on the demands of powerful corporate interests. In broader terms, Ohio is engaged in an epic battle between human rights and corporate rights that is determining the future of the state.

The zillion dollar question is who will win, the people or corporations? The answer depends on the people’s awareness of the situation and the actions we take. Thousands of Ohioans are in fact aware that corporate interests are blocking the People’s interests and raising their voices in support of the We the People Amendment (HJR 48). Sponsored by Move to Amend (, this amendment will abolish the constitutional doctrines that money is “free speech” AND that corporations possess constitutional rights.

The recent spate of citizen petitions attests to the unity of Ohioans on crucial issues. With lawmakers failing to address the People’s concerns, ordinary Ohioans are banding together to secure the rights of their communities. Ask any petitioner of causes such as affordable health care, ending gerrymandering, and safeguarding our environment, and you will hear of the overwhelming support—and rare opposition—they have encountered. This is not surprising. What human being does not want a more safe and just world? Indeed, the fundamentally human desire that “We the People” have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.

Corporations do not share these values because they are not people, but artificial entities with one overriding purpose: profits. If profits require exploiting the rule of the people, a.k.a, “democracy,” then so be it. This was the case a hundred and fifty years ago when railroad executives wrangled Fourteenth Amendment rights out of a Supreme Court case over taxes (Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1886). Thereafter, corporations claimed status as “We, the People” under the U.S. Constitution to further gain First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments’ rights. Coupled with their unfathomable wealth, their rights as “constitutional persons” have given them grounds to exert greater influence than natural persons in schools, the media, the courts, legislatures, and the other societal bulwarks required for a thriving democracy.

The public remained largely unaware of corporations’ status as constitutional persons until 2010, the year of the landmark Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission(FEC) decision. Citing earlier rulings that “money is speech” (because this is how corporations express themselves), the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate election spending. Only then were millions of Americans alerted to the dangers of corporations having constitutional rights. So great was the public’s outrage over Citizens United v. FEC that it compelled the emergence of Move to Amend, a genuine people’s movement dedicated to ensuring the people’s rights over corporate rights.

Established in 2009, just before the Citizens United’s disastrous decision, Move to Amend’s founders understood that it was high time to act. They encouraged local communities around the nation to build fully inclusive people’s movements that put people’s rights first. Ten years later, Move to Amend is on firm and aggressive footing: nearly 500,000 Americans are on their local, state, and national governments to support the We the People Amendment while its new sponsor, Representative Pramila Jayapal, reintroduced the amendment in Congress on February 25. Closer to home, a resolution for its passage will soon be reintroduced in the Ohio Senate and House. Ohioans from across the state will thereafter converge at the Statehouse to demonstrate the People’s collective demand that the human rights take precedence over corporate rights.

Interested in joining other Ohioans committed to ending corporate rule and getting money out of elections? Attend the Ohio Move to Amend Network 7th Annual Gathering on Saturday, March 30 (10:30 am - 3:30 pm) at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 93 W Weisheimer Road in Columbus. Click here for agenda and registration information: (Unlike corporate influence-peddling, it’s free!)

Sandy Bolzenius, Move to Amend, Central Ohio Affiliate and the Ohio Network