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Founding fathers worried about corporate clout The threat does not come from corporations that do business and amass wealth. It comes from corporations that use their wealth to build power for themselves by putting political candidates in office, dictating public policy and evading the law. In his book "Corporations Are Not People," attorney explains the history of corporate power in America. Southern Pacific said it was a person under the 14th Amendment and the tax on railroad property was not equal because it was not assessed to other persons, which violated its rights. The case went to the Supreme Court, which in 1886 ruled in favor of the railroad based on California law, not on the premise that a corporation is a person under the Constitution. But what followed was a slew of Supreme Court cases in which big corporations demanded constitutional rights, Clements writes. They were trying to protect themselves from increasing cries to break up monopolies, ban corporate giving to politicians, and protect workers and the environment. In his 1888 message to Congress, President said, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters." Still, the power of corporations, particularly monopolies or trusts, continued to grow. In 1901 President took action, earning him the nickname trust buster. senators, Clements writes. Before that, senators were appointed by state legislatures, a process rife with corporate influence. , who was president from 1913 to 1921, and Franklin Roosevelt, president from 1933 to 1945, won more regulations of corporate power. During Roosevelt's term, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black struck down the idea that corporations are people with rights under the Constitution. After that, "corporate personhood was a dead issue for decades," Clements writes. Across America 20 million people took to the streets to demand that corporations stop polluting the air, soil and water and destroying wildlife, forests and rivers. Within a few years, with bipartisan support, Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and many others. In 1971, a corporate lawyer from Virginia, , whose client was the , outlined a plan for how corporations could strike back. Powell, a director of several international corporations including the cigarette manufacturer, wrote a memo to the Chamber saying corporations had to organize and plan long term and pool their money. Supreme Court. Corporations did what Powell recommended. Chamber of Commerce established a National Chamber Litigation Center. Corporate executives funded "legal foundations" around the country to pound their message into every court -- the Constitution gives corporations the same rights as people. Finally, in 2010, the Supreme Court decreed just that. It overturned decades of campaign-finance laws and ruled that Citizens United, a Virginia corporation that advances conservative causes, could air an anti- documentary during the 2008 presidential race. But the court didn't stop there. It said that corporations, in protection of their free speech rights, may contribute unlimited "independent expenditures" to candidates' Super PACs. Now, in this presidential election year, money is flooding into Super PACs to surreptitiously pay for the campaigns and television ads of the candidates corporations choose. This is Resolutions Week, when Americans nationwide are pushing their towns and cities to pass resolutions calling for a reversal of the Citizens United decision and a return to the thinking of the nation's founders. In "Corporations Are Not People," Clements quotes President Theodore Roosevelt in a 1920 speech. "There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains," Roosevelt said.

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