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Rights! The Newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution
April 2004
Welcome to Rights!, the newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution ("CDC"). We'll be publishing monthly, with at most three short updates between issues.

We hope you'll find Rights! informative, engaging, useful, infuriating, energizing, inspiring. We're working to end the constitutional rights of corporations and to create a vital, living democracy in the U.S.A. (including strong businesses ultimately run for the public good), starting at home in Massachusetts. So please join us!
  In this issue:
Our Models
The path to abolishing corporate constitutional rights has been blazed by the compelling research done by the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), and the exciting grassroots community work done by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Pennsylvania. Visit their websites for background and current actions.

POCLAD is celebrating its tenth year of "instigating democratic conversations and actions that contest the authority of corporations to govern our nation, define our culture and plunder the earth."

Thomas Linzey, attorney and founder of CELDF, has been working with rural communities to stop corporate hog farms, the spreading of sewage sludge, and other travesties-for-profit. In 1995, two teenagers died as a result of toxic sludge applied as fertilizer. Since then, with the help of CELDF's innovative organizing and legal strategies, dozens of rural communities in Central Pennsylvania have succeeded in thwarting these threats. Two townships have even passed ordinances outlawing corporate constitutional rights in their jurisdictions.

Thomas's efforts are building coalitions across the state -- we'll feature the Pennsylvania work in a future newsletter. And Thomas will be teaching Democracy School in Massachusetts on July 9-11 (see below)!
C.H.A.I.N. - Coalition for the Health of Aggregate Industries Neighbors
C.H.A.I.N. is a group in Swampscott that for the past three years has been fighting the noise, diesel exhaust and toxic dust from an expanding quarry operation owned by the multinational corporation Aggregate Industries. In addition to engaging in regulatory battles, they are working with CDC around strategies to challenge the illegitimate claim to constitutional rights by corporations, and asserting the inalienable rights of their citizens to a safe, healthy environment.
Swampscott Quarry Big hole in the heart of Swampscott
We are regular folks leading normal busy lives who stood up one day and said, "NO!" to the increase in air and noise pollution in our neighborhood. Our common concern for the lack of suitable regulation of local industrial pollution has drawn us together so that our joint voice could be heard.

Read more about C.H.A.I.N. here.
Constitutional Community Meeting
Over twenty people attended an informational and organizing meeting at the Boston Public Library on April 4th. We presented a brief history of corporate constitutional rights and discussed the exciting progress being made in Pennsylvania. Smilia Marvosh of C.H.A.I.N. told of Swampscott's battles against a corporate quarry operation and "We the People Against Corporate Rule" introduced their work on Cape Cod. All were energized by the potential of CDC's work to help create safe and healthy communities by working to abolish corporate constitutional rights in Massachusetts.

More Constitutional Community Meetings are in the works. Watch for dates, times and locations in our e-mail updates. And if you'd like to organize a Constitutional Community Meeting in your neighborhood, we'll supply a speaker and a video. Please contact the office by e-mail, info411 {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org or phone (781-674-2339).
Meet Us: Mary Zepernick, Board Member
Mary Zepernick Mary Zepernick describes herself as "a former history teacher doing penance." Like many of us she has grappled with the myths of American history, and is eager to share what she has learned. She is a former president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and an active member of Cape Cod WILPF. Mary is also one of the twelve principals of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD). As a facilitator and network-builder, she brings valued skills and resources to CDC, not to mention great spirit and determination!
Democracy School
Next Democracy School in Boston: July 9-11, 2004

Our first session, held in mid-March, was a great success -- we had to turn people away! Democracy School runs from Friday evening through Sunday early afternoon. Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund will lead the team teaching the course. As mentioned above, Thomas is an attorney at the forefront of legal battles on corporate constitutional rights.

Democracy School covers the history and development of corporations in the U.S., the movements for people's rights, exciting current developments in fighting corporate harms in Pennsylvania, and strategizing on how to apply all of these lessons for the benefit of Massachusetts communities dealing with toxics, sprawl, pollution, noise, and corruption of government. Democracy School is highly recommended to anyone interested in changing our democracy's collision course with corporate rule!

Find out more about Democracy School and sign up today!
The Corporation
Corporate Devil The winner of awards at numerous film festivals, accompanied by rave reviews, "The Corporation" is a searing indictment of corporate rights and the invasion of our lives by amoral mega-companies. The first public showings in Massachusetts will be at the Independent Film Festival of Boston on Saturday, May 1st at 7:30 p.m. (with a special guest appearance by Noam Chomsky), and on Sunday, May 2nd at 2:30 p.m. Both showings will be at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.
The Center for Democracy and the Constitution will have a table there -- passing out information, selling books, and signing people up in the fight for democracy. Stop by the Brattle, see the film, and say hello!

Visit The Corporation website, get ticket information and check out a weekend of great new movies at the Independent Film Festival of Boston.
CDC's Mission
We are working to organize and educate around democracy and abolition of corporate constitutional rights, to fund a legal team to assist communities assaulted by harmful big business projects, and to engage in dialogues about legal and legislative remedies, including a statewide ballot question.

Our activities include:
  • conducting workshops and community discussions on democracy,
    people's rights and confronting corporate rule
  • providing internships for law students and others
  • supporting communities fighting corporate incursions on their health,
    livelihoods and right to decide.
Visit our website at


A very bright, dedicated and responsible first-year law student from Oregon who will be doing valuable research and organizing will be joining us at the beginning of June, and he will need a free place to stay until mid-August. If you have an available room in the Greater Boston area and are able to help, please contact us right away.


Do you have a question or comment about the campaign to end corporate constitutional rights and to claim democracy for the people? We'll pick one or two to add to our Frequently Asked Questions list (under development) and discuss in our next newsletter. Please send to info411 {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org.
Support Us
Given that many funding gestures from corporate foundations, government and wealthy donors are token changes that protect the status quo, CDC doesn't expect much in the way of grants and donations from these sources. After all, why should the top 1% support an effort to repossess their cash cow -- us!

There is, however, no place to hide from the destruction wrought upon our health, well-being, environment and future by big business special interests and the government that they own. The people who suffer most are the billions worldwide who barely survive from day to day, but the devastation from corporate-driven war, pollution and global warming affect all of us.

It's high time to take back the common heritage of humanity and all life on earth -- the land, the air, the water. It's time to establish democracy here in the United States. It's time to protect our children from asthma, cancer, war, and the other numerous plagues visited upon us by corporate greed, by those fictional persons created by the state that are consuming us all.

The Center for Democracy and the Constitution is blazing a new path in Massachusetts. One community at a time, we can end corporate constitutional rights, and create a new, peaceful American revolution, a new democracy.

Did you know that we citizens of Massachusetts paid on the average $300 in federal taxes last year to support the conflict in Iraq? And we are paying countless hundreds more to support numerous forms of corporate welfare, kindly granted by our elected representatives?

Please consider contributing $300 or $100 or $50 or $10 (or $1,000 or more if you can afford it) to CDC to eliminate the corporate power that creates war and inequity and poverty in its own interest at the expense of the rest of us.

Contributions may be made out to "CDC" and sent to:

   12 Locust Avenue
   Lexington, MA 02421

Contributions are tax deductible. We will be able to accept donations on our website soon. Many thanks for your interest and support!

Adam D. Sacks
Executive Director

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