Free Forum: Challenging Corporate Nationhood

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CHALLENGING
A conversation with

JESSE SWANHUYSER
Director and Attorney, Voice for the People

SARAH BURT
Staff Attorney, Earthjustice

Tuesday, August 2, 7:00 PM
Midpen Media Center, 900 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
Free and open to all. Wheelchair accessible.

Help us plan. Click here to let us know you’ll attend

Thanks to Citizens United, you have probably heard about the concept of “corporate personhood” — the idea that corporations enjoy the same Constitutional rights as natural born citizens. But have you heard about corporate nationhood?

Corporate nationhood is a little known threat to socio-economic justice and environmental sustainability. Chevron, Philip-Morris, Koch Industries and other multinational corporations have quietly constructed an international legal system in which they are literally as powerful as sovereign nations. Tucked into U.S. trade agreements, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system expands Citizens United beyond corporate personhood, and opens the door to a more corrosive force—corporate nationhood. ISDS allows multinationals to challenge virtually any law, using “investment tribunals” where the judges are corporate lawyers and the people rarely have a voice.

The Keystone XL pipeline case epitomizes the threat of corporate nationhood. On Nov. 6, 2015 President Obama announced that he would deny TransCanada Corporation (TransCanada) a permit to pipe tar sand crude oil through the U.S. to global markets. The world celebrated a major climate victory and the unprecedented demonstration of people power that made it possible..

Despite having lost in the court of public opinion and the domestic political process, TransCanada is using an offshore ISDS court to challenge the will of the people. TransCanada claims that our hard fought victory violates special rights granted to it under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, and is demanding $15 billion for ‘unrealized profits’ from U.S. taxpayers.

At this month’s Other Voices forum we will examine the Keystone pipeline case and a number of other corporate challenges to domestic, democratically enacted laws. And we will learn about a new strategy to challenge corporate nationhood: strategic legal engagement.

Numerous social movements have effectively used Friend of the Court, or amicus, briefs to shape the law and bend the arch of history toward justice. Amicus briefs give people and citizen organizations a voice by allowing groups to participate in cases with far-reaching social implications even though they are not formally parties to the legal action.

Our guest, Jesse Swanhuyser, is an attorney who is helping to coordinate the legal efforts of the Sierra Club, Center for International Environmental Law, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to defeat TransCanada’s NAFTA claim and defend the ability of people around the world to organize and demand that their governments place the interests of people and the environment over corporate interest.

crowd shot ov brightYOU ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF EVERY OTHER VOICES PROGRAM. The forum really is a conversation and that includes you. So come prepared to ask questions or share your opinions.

Other Voices Monthly Forum is held at the Midpen Media Center, where it is recorded for later broadcast on local cable television and streaming on the Internet. Previous forums (and other videos) can be seen at our YouTube Channel or the Video Page at our website.

Local TV broadcast schedule (cable channel 30, available in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Stanford, Atherton and nearby unincorporated areas): Tuesdays @ 7:00 pm, Wednesdays @ 10:00 pm, Thursdays @ 7:00 pm, Fridays @ 2:30 am, Saturdays @ 8:00 am.

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