David Cobb Takes Stance Against Corporate Personhood

In an interesting article regarding the various methods by which citizens are seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and, more broadly, corporate personhood, Steven Rosenfeld at Salon.com compares different approaches.  Among activists focusing on passing local ordinances with an environmental focus, legal scholars working on constitutional amendments, and others, 2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb speaks representing those trying to build a large movement to revoke corporate personhood and approach the matter in a broad way.  Read the full thing here.

“We are doing movement building in order to win a constitutional amendment within a decade,” said David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate and board member of the Move To Amend coalition, which has led much of grassroots organizing. “We have a meta-perspective about what is going on, but we also have a sense of movement history; in recognizing what it takes to actually get a lot of people in motion demanding systemic change. Our call is no more radical or will be no more difficult than the abolitionist movement, the women’s suffrage movement, trade union movement or the Civil Rights movement.”

But liberal skeptics also include groups that have been helping local governments adopt laws subordinating corporate rights to community and individual rights in a range of environmental fights. These ordinances are below-the-radar equivalents to the recent Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld its century-old ban on corporate electoral spending. They all make a “compelling” claim, the highest standard in constitutional law, to affirm democratic rights.

“They’re good people and their heart is in the right place, but they’re not being helpful—as a matter of fact, they are doing damage,” said Ben Price, project director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which has helped 130 municipalities in a half-dozen east-central states–—including the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–local anti-corporate ordinances in environmental fights. “They won’t bring the outcomes that are needed.”

“We don’t think that is the right strategic move at this time because it will be overturned,” Cobb said, when asked why his coalition’s members do not pursue CELDF-style changes in law, citing his own experience in Humboldt County, California, where a county ordinance was reversed in federal court. “And why will it be overturned; because corporations have constitutional rights, according to the federal district courts and U.S. Supreme Court. The ultimate win has to result in a constitutional amendment.”

14 thoughts on “David Cobb Takes Stance Against Corporate Personhood

  1. Deran

    I hate find myself agreeing with that Democrat, Cobb, but he seems correct to me. The NGOs are a real problem. Because of the laws regulating them, they are an impediment to actual changes because they are tied to the system and are dependent on it for legitimacy and donations.

  2. Richard Winger

    Corporate personhood has nothing to do with the First Amendment. It only relates to the Fourteenth Amendment. I am not the only one saying this. Truthout recently published a long article titled, “The problem with Citizens United is Not Corporate Personhood.”

  3. Catholic Trotskyist

    Thanks for this great article from the unsung hero of the Left, David Cobb, who understands the hold that corporations and single-winner districts have over America, and did what needed to be done in a difficult time, to attempt to ensure that the criminal administration of Bush/Cheney would not be reelected. Please pray for David Cobb, please pray for the Pope and please pray for Barack obama; amen.


    Is Sierra Club a corporation? What about Greenpeace? Does each environmental activist want to be individually liable for torts if the local environmentalist club (probably a 501c3) loses limited liability and gets sued? Andwhat corportion, that sells goods to the public, is going to run ads for a candidate? Good way to tick off half your customers.

  5. Brian Holtz

    People should not lose their right to free speech just because they are acting in voluntary associations.

    The problem with corporations is not personhood, but limited liability. The LP platform should be amended to say something like:

    We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association, as long as ultimate responsibility for each non-contractual liability of the firm is accepted by at least one of the individuals in it.

  6. Kim Dead Jung Party, via Lake

    NGOs, san diego style / chicago on the bay:

    Special Report
    No Jail Time for Former SEDC Leaders

    Two former redevelopment leaders guilty of embezzling public money were ordered to slowly repay the city $435,000 at the rate of $100 per month – which amounts to $1,200 annually each.

    At that rate, the money won’t be repaid until the year 2193.

    The officials, Carolyn Y. Smith and Dante Dayacap, who were at the center of a 2008 voiceofsandiego.org investigation, are on probation for five years.

  7. Deran

    Mr. Lake got it. I was doing a feeble snark at Cobb. After 2004 I could never trust Cobb, nor anyone else who supported that disasterous “safe states” campaign. That’s why I was uneasy about saying I think Cobb is on the money with what he says needs to be done re Citizens United.

  8. Michael Cavlan RN

    David Cobb spoke at a Move To Amend event in Minneapolis last year. In his presentation he stated “My friends, I have been asked and no, I do not believe we need a new political party.” To a room full of Democrats. He also thanked the elected Democrats in the room.

    I wanted to ask Mr Cobb a question. It was screened out by the “handlers” which is a typical Democratic Party trick.

    Mr Cobb, who I had worked with in the Ohio Re-Count 2004, the Green Party Convention 2004 would not look me in the eyes during his presentation. He would not talk to me after.

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