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February 17, 2005

A Pennsylvania Town Challenges Corporations' Constitutional "Rights"

Tomorrow night, tune your babble box to PBS at 8pm to catch NOW. They'll be covering the amazing community of St. Thomas Township, PA, where the folks are fighting off a multinational corporation's quarry proposal by directly challenging the constitutional rights of corporations.

When residents of St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania opposed a company's plans to build a quarry in their small town, they did a uniquely American thing: they elected a town supervisor who shared their view. The ensuing battle, like many around the nation that are pitting communities against corporations, raises a question at the heart of American democracy: can corporate rights trump the will of the people? NOW goes inside the controversy in St. Thomas Township by looking at how Frank Stearn, the newly elected official, steered clear of issues relating to the quarry and examines the legal status claimed by the corporation that stopped him in his tracks. "I mean, clearly, it does not speak well to most people's understanding of how democracy works," says Stearn.

This is big, important stuff, and it's way outside the box for most activists. I recently had the honor to attend the first Seattle Democracy School taught by the folks who are helping these courageous citizens stand up for their constitutional rights. Even though I've followed corporate rights issues casually for the past ten years, it still felt like taking the red pill and confronting the fact that corporations have so completely usurped our basic human rights that we hardly even have the language to understand how.

More on this in the coming weeks. For now, I strongly recommend watching NOW.

Posted by Jon Stahl on February 17, 2005 at 10:02 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink


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I think it is good they are challenging corporate rights.

In the political food chain it goes: People create government -> Government creates corporations. Corporations only have rights that the government aka the people have granted it. You can legislate away corporate rights, you cannot legislate away individual rights. That pesky constitution gets in the way of that.

Posted by: Vince Callaway | Feb 19, 2005 6:27:24 PM

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