In recent years we've all been hearing more and more about "corporate personhood," the idea that corporations are people in the eyes of the law. In 2010, in Citizens United v. FEC and related campaign finance cases, the U.S. Supreme Court used the concept of corporate personhood to cast open the floodgates to unprecedented corporate spending on political advertising by SuperPACs. American democracy is now for sale to the highest bidder.
Citizens United is hardly the only example of corporate power undermining our shared values. Whether it's sweat shop labor, bribes and corruption, environmental devastation, or cooperation with dangerous military regimes, a growing number of world citizens are realizing that there is a dark side to many of the products and services we buy, despite the rose-tinted advertisements surrounding us every day.
It is against this backdrop that, on October 1st, the U.S. Supreme Court heard another critical case on corporate power. For over two decades, survivors of overseas human rights abuses, and families of victims, have used the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to sue perpetrators in U.S. courts. Their stories are awe-inspiring.
A decision could is due between now and June, and if Shell has their way the Supreme Court will give corporations immunity from the ATS or, even worse, wipe out ATS cases entirely, for all human rights abuses overseas. Corporations can already buy elections -- we can't let them get away with murder, too!