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Council’s Opposition To “Corporate Personhood” Elected Council Officials: The Council’s decision to formally request Federal legislators to change the Constitution to deny free speech rights to “corporations” would seem to rise to the height of irrelevance— given that the local government is itself a “municipal corporation”—which means also that “municipal corporations are not people”. Corporations are, in fact, comprise of people. Corporations own assets, just like people. Corporations can be sued, just like people. And corporate officers can be jailed—just like people—when those corporate officers direct corporate actions that are found later to be illegal. What aspect of this reality has the Council come to disbelieve? It is clear that those promoting this attack on corporations are clearly attacking corporations —and would encourage the Council to advocate for the outlawing of corporations—if they thought they could gain that level of support from the Council. There is a long history of antagonism towards business interests here in Palo Alto and those pushing this silliness. While they may claim that they are not “opposed to corporations”—their long history of anti-business activities here in Palo Alto documents another story entirely. In addition to an attack on Corporations as a bulwark of our Western system of values, it is also an attack on Free Speech, which the Council has now became a “water carrier” for those who would silence both corporate interests, but others, when opportunity offers. Just how committed is the Council to Free Speech? Did anyone of the you voting for this Resolution ever take the time to review the history of Free Speech, and the legal history of “Corporate Personhood”? What evidence did the Council weigh that "corporate money" was influencing local decisions? Would the Arrillaga project be one that might qualify, or is that one somehow "different"? Perhaps the Council will consider reading the following before signing any letter requesting a Constitutional Amendment— Corporate Personhood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood Since at least Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward – 17 U.S. 518 (1819), the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural persons to contract and to enforce contracts. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad - 118 U.S. 394 (1886), the
reporter noted in the headnote to the opinion that the Chief Justice began oral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does." While the headnote is not part of the Court's opinion and thus not precedent, two years later, in Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania - 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, "Under the designation of 'person' there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution."  This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since. History of Free Speech: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/feb/05/religion.news Legal History of Free Speech: http://mysite.verizon.net/jdehullu/speech/sphist.htm Freedom of Speech in the US—A Short History: http://civilliberty.about.com/od/freespeech/tp/History-Freedom-of-Speech-United-StatesTimeline.htm History of the First Amendment: http://www.illinoisfirstamendmentcenter.com/history.php Needed Changes In Local Government This embarrassing episode of inappropriate action on the part of the current City Council is another example of why we desperately need changes in the nature of our local government. This sort of Resolution in no way represents the thinking of the people of Palo Alto—any more so than a Resolution condemning the existence of “Corporations” by this Council would represent the thinking of Palo Altans. This action represents the thinking of only seven (7) elected officials—none of whom ever campaigned on overturning this, or any Supreme Court decisions. (One can only wonder how many of those voting on this Resolution have ever read all of the documentation associated with Citizens United?) Therefore, the Palo Altans need to be able to easily rescind these kinds of Resolutions— which clearly are “outside the pay grade” of most Council Members. The Residents of Palo Alto need to have some sort of mechanism that allows us to stop these sorts of Council actions before they leave the Council Chambers, and begin to do damage to the reputation of the city of Palo Alto, and its hard working, clear-thinking residents.
It’s amazing that this Council hasn’t seen occasion to discuss the current crime wave, but it has time, and interest, to dabble in fundamental Constitutional questions in which it has clearly evidenced no expertise. This action leaves one wonder just how many other Supreme Court decisions this Council will be opposing—which the local issues of government, such as government ineptitude and corruption go unnoticed? Another outrageous, disappointing, and embarrassing action by the Palo Alto City Council. Wayne Martin Palo Alto, CA www.twitter.com/wmartin46 www.scribd.com/wmartin46 www.youtube.com/wmartin46