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“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Senator Whitehouse called on all Americans to remember that the Constitution provides not just basic rights, but a mechanism to make sure that those rights cannot be trampled by wealthy and powerful interests:
"The jury serves as our last sanctuary, as Americans, when the forces of society may be arrayed against us: when the governor’s mansion has been bought by special interests; when lobbyists have the legislature tied in knots; when the newspaper owners have steered public opinion against you – the hard square corners of the jury box stand firm against the influence and money of special interests."
"In the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, a slim 5-4 majority allowed giant corporations unlimited license to drown out the voices of American citizens in our elections. To give you a sense of the scale of this threat to everyday Americans’ role in our democracy, presidential candidates Obama and McCain spent a combined total of slightly more than one billion dollars on their campaigns. In contrast, Exxon Mobil had sales of $89.8 billion and profits of $19.4 billion the year the Citizens United decision came down. Corporate giants now have the ability to influence our electoral system like never before."
"Big corporations can now dominate the executive and legislative branches through campaign spending and lobbyists. But there’s one annoying little place their money and influence can’t reach: the jury box. Indeed, tampering with a jury is a crime. Wealthy and powerful interests take little joy in the jury’s role safeguarding “the sovereignty of the people,” and don’t much like the notion that “oppressions” even by the “most powerful” can be “examined and decided by twelve indifferent men.” (And nowadays, women.) So it is not for nothing that, in recent decades, corporate interests have embarked on a sustained effort to weaken the civil justice system and diminish the role of the jury.
From a historical perspective, there is no question whether corporations or the jury has a richer constitutional pedigree. The Founders did not consider corporations to be “citizens” of our democracy."
Lobbies Rule America
Supreme Court Decisions on Corporate Power
William Blackstone once said “the most powerful individual in the state will be cautious of committing any flagrant invasion of another’s right, when he knows that the fact of his oppression must be examined and decided by twelve indifferent men.”
The jury is particularly important today, as powerful corporations encroach ever further into our political system. As corporations use their great financial assets to lobby their own legislative agendas and ply their influence on even the executive branch of government, the jury stands as a sanctuary for justice for the American people.
Judges at all levels work daily to ensure that the court system protects the rights of everyday Americans. As a grassroots movement to protect the rights of “human persons” in front of our court system, we need to make clear that our judicial system must continue to offer a forum for all people, not just special interests, to seek justice.
But in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, a slim 5-4 majority allowed giant corporations unlimited license to drown out the voices of American citizens in our elections.
There have been over recent years many Pro-corporate Supreme Court decisions. In Supreme Court cases below it is easily demonstrated how these legal precedents can do great damage to the rights of everyday Americans, minorities, the elderly, consumers, the middle class, the environment, and even to established law.
For examples of how the Supreme Court decisions have eroded the rights of “human persons” see these important Supreme Court Decisions:
The right to a jury trial - Rent-A-Center
The Supreme Court in the Rent-A-Center case has diverted working Americans away from a jury by forcing them before an arbitrator. In Rent-A-Center, for example, the Court stopped American employees who work under binding mandatory arbitration agreements from challenging unfair treatment by their employers in court. Americans, the slim majority held, cannot even go before a court to challenge an unconscionable arbitration agreement.
The heightened legal standard to plead injury - Ashcroft v. Iqbal
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that top government officials were not liable for the actions of their subordinates absent evidence that they ordered the allegedly discriminatory activity. At issue was whether current and former federal officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller and former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, were entitled to qualified immunity against an allegation that they knew of or condoned racial and religious discrimination against individuals detained after of the September 11 attacks. In this case the Supreme Court overhauled the long-settled standard for what an injured person must allege in a complaint to get a case to a jury. In 2007, the Court had handed down its opinion in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly. The Twombly case had previously set the civil concept of “plausibility” as the dividing line between complaints that do and do not state a claim. In Ashcroft v Iqbal, the Supreme Court held that top government officials are not liable for the actions of their subordinates absent evidence that they ordered the allegedly discriminatory activity. The heightened fact pleading standards, as required by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, was extended to all Federal court cases. So after Twombly and Iqbal, these higher pleading standards will mean that American workers will all have a harder time winning legal cases about corporate wrongs.
The right to bring class action law suits - Walmart
In the largest employee class-action lawsuit in U.S. history the Supreme Court ruled that the case would not go forward as a class action suit. This was a major victory for Wal-Mart Stores and the case had been potentially worth billions in damages to the plaintiffs. As many as 1.6 million female employees from Wal-Mart were included in the sex discrimination case. Instead the court agreed unanimously that the litigation could not proceed as a class action form. This Supreme Court Decision reversed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court split along 5-4 lines over whether the group presented a common claim in seeking an injunction that would have forced the retailer to change its employment practices.
The right of small businesses to compete with the big business - Leegin antitrust case
Consider the Leegin antitrust case, where the 5-4 majority on the Court reversed many decades of precedent that had kept prices low for consumers, and had helped small businesses compete with corporate giants. The Supreme Court in this decision overturned nearly a hundred years of antitrust precedent in a groundbreaking 5-4 decision in Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. The decision over tuned a previous decision which made it per se illegal for a manufacturer and its distributor to agree on a minimum price at which the distributor may resell the manufacturer’s goods.
The right of victims of environmental disasters to obtain adequate compensation - Exxon v Baker
See the Supreme Court Case Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471 (2008). This Supreme Court decision took the opinion that the punitive damages awarded to the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill should be reduced from US$2.5 billion to US$500 million.
Employment Discrimination based on race or gender – Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), is an employment discrimination decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Alito held for the five-justice majority that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more. Lilly Ledbetter found that she had been paid less than her male counterparts year after year despite working just as hard, Ms. Ledbetter brought suit against her employer. A jury heard the evidence in the case, found that the big corporation had indeed discriminated against Ms. Ledbetter, and awarded her back pay and damages. Then the corporation got the case before the Supreme Court. The conservatives on the Court decided to take the decision away from the jury.
Age Discrimination - Gross v FBL Services
In Gross v. FBL Services, a 54-year old man claimed that his employer had discriminated against him because of his age. A jury agreed. Again, the corporation turned to the Supreme Court. And again, a narrow majority of Justices overturned the jury decision – in the process making it more difficult for older Americans to prove they were wrongfully discriminated against on the basis of age.
Truth About Drug Companies
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia
Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network
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"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Confucius
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic",
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910