Stating the case against corporate personhood

Paul Boerger
David Cobb, political activist and the 2004 Green Party candidate for president, makes a forceful point on the need to amend the Constitution to remove corporations from personhood status and allow regulation of corporate campaign financing. “Money is not free speech,” Cobb said. Photo by Paul Boerger

David Cobb is a dynamic, forceful, and as he admits, an angry speaker. And he is on a mission. Kicking off a 20 plus city northern California barnstorm tour in Mount Shasta March 24, Cobb’s mission is nothing less than amending the Constitution of the United States to include that “A corporation is not a person” and that “Money is not speech and can be regulated.”

“I’m a proud, patriotic and pissed off American citizen,” the 2004 Green Party candidate for president said. “Money is not free speech.”

The Move to Amend movement that Cobb represents is a reaction to the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission. The court found that corporations have “personhood” rights under the Constitution, the same as people with money having the same status as freedom of speech.

To amend the Constitution takes a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the subsequent approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures.

According to Move to Amend, the Court’s decision has been to allow virtually unlimited corporate spending for elections and protected corporations as persons.

“Literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of local, state and federal laws that attempt to protect our elections, safety and health, environmental, and right to organize have been overturned as a result of this erroneous doctrine,” Move to Amend states.

Cobb pointed out that up to the Civil War corporations were difficult to form, allowed for only short periods of time and were tightly regulated to pursue narrow purposes. He said it took the approval of the state legislatures and the governor to form a corporation and that corporate charters were routinely revoked if they strayed outside their stated purpose.

“Now you can form a corporation in California online for $200 and it’s forever,” Cobb said.

He noted that corporations can now do virtually anything they choose with impunity.

“Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, recently said that the large multinational corporations are too big to prosecute,” Cobb said. “The laws are on the books, but we don’t have Attorney Generals, at the state level also, with the courage to enforce them.”

Speaking and answering questions for nearly two hours at the Mount Shasta Resort, Cobb outlined the fundamental concepts of democracy, sovereignty, legal personhood and corporation.

“Government should be afraid of the people, subordinate and accountable,” Cobb said. “Government has no rights over people, it has duties to the people.”

He said Move to Amend is proposing a “heavy lift,” but noted that there is precedent for “transformative” political change in American history including the American revolution, abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, trade unions and the civil rights movement.

Cobb said the ultimate goal of the movement is to change the thinking of the American people on the issue to the point where candidates for local, state and national office will be asked to take a “Move to Amend” pledge in order to get elected.

“Since 1886, courts have handed out more human rights to corporations. Armed with human rights and privileges, large corporations have amassed fantastic wealth and power, which has undermined our sovereign self-governance and created a democracy crises,” Move to Amend says. “Corporations can now spend unlimited money to buy our elections. The Court has legalized corporate bribery of our elected officials.”

Cobb's appearance was sponsored by the Siskiyou Progressive Alliance. For more information on Move to Amend, visit the website at