Mystery Meat: Why You’re Not Allowed To Know About Your Food

With the demise of our right to know the “country of origin” of our food in the grocery store, I wrote this piece for Fox News about the shrinking rights of Americans when corporations are given new Constitutional rights. 

What’s In Your Summer Burger: Why Your Government

Doesn’t Want You To Know


Even if they are not the hippest foodies, most people who buy hamburger for a late summer cookout want to know the source of their ground beef. If not the specific farm or state or even region, whether the meat is American-raised or has traveled across the globe from who knows where matters to a lot of Americans. That insistence on our right to know about our food is why federal law requires that meat be labeled with the country of origin. Or it used to do that.

In Washington, a corporate lobby called the American Meat Institute filed a federal lawsuit in support of an effort by foreign countries and international lobbyists to block our right-to-know law. The corporate lobby claims that the “country of origin” rule violates the corporations’ First Amendment “right to refrain from speaking at all.”

Here’s the rest of the story

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Video: Big money & global corporations v. democracy

More at

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Constitutional Amendments Come In Waves- What Will Ours Bring?

AmendI have a piece in US News & World Report about the indispensable Constitutional amendment power through American history, and why we’re due for another round.

Article V of the Constitution provides the Amendment mechanism. It is not easy: Approval by 2/3 of Congress (or an unprecedented Constitutional Convention) and ratification by 3/4 of the States. Not easy, yet our national pattern of Constitutional amendment “waves” in times of economic, cultural, political, social and even global shifts is striking. When our politics and society hit particularly difficult stress points, we see not just one Constitutional amendment clear the Article V hurdle, but several at once.

The signs are everywhere that we are in one of those times again. In an American tradition that is not required by Article V, over the past three years, huge cross-partisan majorities in more than 600 cities and towns and sixteen states have enacted 28th Amendment resolutions overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. These resolutions call for Constitutional amendments that will restore the right of the people to decide how best to limit political and campaign spending, and to preserve Constitutional rights for human beings, not corporations.

Here are the top candidates for such a 28th (and 29th?) Amendment:

The Democracy For All Amendment was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, and has 48 sponsors in the Senate, and more than 100 in the House. It would reverse Citizens United and related campaign finance cases by affirming the right of the people through the States and Congress to protect the political equality of all citizens and the integrity of elections and government by regulating contributions and spending in elections, whether by corporations, unions or individuals.

The People’s Rights Amendment would reverse the holding in Citizens United and related cases that empowered corporations with the Constitutional rights of human beings, restoring the right of the people through the States and Congress to decide how best to define and regulate corporate entities that are created by the states, the federal government or foreign governments. The People’s Rights Amendment has been introduced in the Senate and the House, and has a growing number of co-sponsors.

The We the People Amendment reverses Citizens United and combines the elements of the above two amendments. It affirms that Constitutional rights are inherent rights of natural persons, not corporate entities, and the the right of the people through the states and Congress to regulate campaign contributions and spending.

Other Constitutional amendment ideas beyond the problem of the domination of government by unbalanced concentrations of money and corporate interests are finding support as well:

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has proposed his own wave of Amendments ;

Mark Levin, a former Reagan Justice Department official and head of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has proposed a wave of what he calls  the Liberty Amendments;

The Center for Voting and Democracy advocates for a Right to Vote Amendment that would explicitly guarantee the right of all Americans to vote;

The growing national debt has renewed interest in a Balanced Budget Amendment, and the Equal Rights Amendment that fell three states short of ratification is still on the table.

No doubt there are more. Of course, not all of these Amendments will win the national consensus it takes to meet the appropriately high bar of Article V. But if our history is any guide, and if Americans still have what it takes for self-government (as I believe we do), it is a good bet that one, and likely more, of these will form the Amendment “wave” that renews our path toward democracy and liberty for all in our time.

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Prop 49: 28th Amendment Goes On California Ballot

Thanks to the hard work of a grassroots organization, Money Out Voters In, California voters will have their voices heard on whether Citizens United stands, or democracy is renewed with the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Here’s the language:

Shall the Congress of the United States propose, and the California Legislature ratify, an amendment or amendments to the United States Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) 558 U.S. 310, and other applicable judicial precedents, to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another, and to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only?

More than 100 million Americans  now live in the sixteen states and five hundred cities and towns that have called for an end to the systemic corruption and erosion of democracy from unlimited political spending and the fabrication of “corporate rights.”

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Montana Senator (and farmer) Jon Tester: Corporations Are Not People

This week, Montana farmer and US Senator Jon Tester, took to the floor of the Senate to explain why he has introduced a Constitutional amendment to preserve rights of human beings, and end the fabrication of new “corporate rights”.

In November 2012, 75% of Montana’s voters approved a ballot initiative instructing Montana’s elected representatives to work for a 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United and the new theories that money is speech, and corporations are people under the Constitution.


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New Corporations Are Not People book and speaking tour

9781626562103CorpsNotPeople2ndThe new, updated and expanded edition of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money And Global Corporations will be released in August. I’ve worked hard to make this book even more of an effective tool for all of the work we do together for American democracy and self-government, and 100% of author royalties are donated to non-partisan, non-profit groups engaged in this work.

I’ll be hitting the road to carry our message across the country in a few weeks, and I’m in the process of adding events now. Here’s the beginning of the schedule:  More events will be added soon.

Please let me know if your organization or one you work with might be interesting in doing an event or otherwise collaborating with the book to get our message out and to continue to build on our progress.  

And if you think you will be interested in the book (I hope so!), you can pre-order it now from your local independent bookstore (such as this one)  Amazon , Barnes & Noble,  Indiebound, or my publisher, Berrett-Koehler  which can arrange bulk discounts for non-profits.

Many thanks, and hope to see you soon.



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A few quick videos still worth watching

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“Expansive notion of corporate personhood”: Hobby Lobby decision on corporations asserting religious rights

The court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths. – Justice Ginsburg, dissenting.

June 30- The Supreme Court decided 5-4 that a for-profit corporation with a limited number of shareholders (but 13,000 employees) may assert a right of religion under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to deny their employees coverage of health insurance that includes birth control. As usual, SCOTUSblog has links to the opinions and dissents (and there are several).

The ruling came in two companion cases, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Inc. v. Burwell.  Free Speech For People’s legal team, led by Ron Fein, filed a brief in the Conestoga case, and issued a statement following the decision:

The Supreme Court wisely refused to entertain the corporations’ claim that they have a constitutional right to ignore laws based on “corporate religion.” Unfortunately, the Court misinterpreted the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act as providing a massive corporate exemption to federal laws based on the religious beliefs of investors. While the Court attempted to limit its decision to health insurance coverage for contraception, and to assure the public that the decision would not extend to publicly-traded corporations, the decision opens the door to corporate claims for exemptions from federal civil rights, environmental, safety, and consumer protection laws. As Justice Ginsburg noted in a powerful dissent, the decision means that corporations can potentially “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Since this ruling is based on a law that Congress passed, Congress could fix the problem legislatively. We urge Congress to close this loophole. Corporations aren’t people, but real people will suffer until this is fixed.

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28th Amendment Clears Senate Judiciary Committee Hurdle

Here’s a link to the text of the 28th Amendment that the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sub-Committee on the Constitution, considered and approved today. KOE14034 – Chairman’s Substitute Amendment.

Here’s the language:

SECTION 1.  To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

SECTION 2.  Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

SECTION 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

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Overturning Citizens United: “Let’s Finish The Job. Together.”

Good summary of our progress, from Free Speech For People.

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Latest Wrecking Ball on Democracy- McCutcheon v. FEC

My piece for the American Constitution Society reviews the state of play with McCutcheon v. FEC, the “latest wrecking ball flailing around in the rubble of America’s election and campaign finance laws.”

The Supreme Court heard argument in the case this week (October 8), where “Justice Antonin Scalia bluntly argued that the Court did not need facts,”  as Lyle Dennison at Scotusblog pointed out.

We can expect a decision in a few months. As usual, Scotusblog has a lot of links to the briefs and background in one place.



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