Recent Posts

Is Minnesota in a State of Sedition post-Citizens United?

by Invenium Viam on November 25, 2013 · 1 comment

On February 26, 1857, the United States Congress passed an Enabling Act that permitted residents of the Minnesota Territory to vote on whether they wanted to become a state and join the Union. One provision of that act called for representatives of the people to assemble in convention to draft a state constitution that would become the foundation for state government.
 
On August 29 of that year, fifty-three Republicans and fifty-one Democrats approved a version produced in conference committee and a few weeks later, on October 13, residents of the territory subsequently accepted the Constitution of the State of Minnesota by majority vote in a special election.
 
In its original embodiment, Article 1, Section 1 of the Minnesota constitution stated: “Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform such Government whenever the public good may require it.”  That language remains mostly unchanged and intact to this day. My understanding is that, unlike the Preamble to the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 1 carries the force of law.
 
Both history and common sense tell us that the drafters of the Minnesota Constitution, as well as the residents in the territory who accepted it, and surely the US Senate who ratified it, all would have understood Article 1, Section 1 to mean living persons — particularly with regard to the phrases ‘… the people, in whom all political power is inherent …’, since there was at the time no other meaning in law that could be construed.
 
How can we know this? Because our historical documents show us that the two acts by the federal government that created our state — the Enabling Act by the US House and the ratification of the Minnesota Constitution by the US Senate — pre-date by several decades any precedents in law that supported the 2010 decision by the US Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC.
 

In short, both history and common sense tell us that the drafters of the Minnesota Constitution, the residents who accepted it, and the US Senate who ratified it, all meant living human persons when they used the phrases ‘Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent …’
 
Moreover, it’s clear from the context of the times, with Jacksonian populism a dominant political force and the American Revolution still alive in the memories of a few ancient patriots who had lived it and fought it, that they intended to enshrine in our founding document of self-government a firm declaration that the basis of all political power should reside in living human persons. It’s quite obvious that they meant “power inherent” to a society of individual citizens embodying a democratic republic, not one residing in an aristocracy, or a theocracy, or an oligarchy, neither in lords and kings, nor in pontiffs and prelates — but simply in a society of common people living common lives voting for representatives from among them to conduct the business of self-government.
 
But therein lies an interesting conundrum for those whom we have elected to both state and federal elective offices …
 
How are they now to construe the meaning of Article 1, Section 1 in light of the Citizens United decision? In particular, with regard to passing new laws or revising old ones, how are they to understand the over-arching meaning of Article 1, Section 1?
 
For example, when our state legislators write new laws must they now construe those laws for the security, benefit and protection of corporations as “persons” in addition to living persons? Does the relationship between corporations and individuals now extend beyond the workplace or the contract, just as the relationship between husband and wife and the marriage contract extends beyond the homefront? If so, in what ways? Can corporate persons be sued for financial support when they lay-off workers in the same way as husbands and wives can be sued for financial support should they abandon a family? Can corporations be convicted of medical negligence for untreated stress-related illness resulting from hostile work environments, over-taxing work demands, departmental stack rankings, or respiratory injury from exposure to toxins and molds? Can failure to instantly order workers home during an extended outbreak of norovirus or Hepatitis C result in charges of negligence or workplace violence when injury to workers’ health is proven? Can an executive board be sued for alienation of affection when managers are required to work more than 40 hour work-weeks for the sake of job security and return home too tired to make joy with their spouse, or to play with their children? If not, why not?
 
After all, we are told that corporations are ‘persons’ who have the right to expend unlimited amounts of money as a form of ‘speech’ to influence the composition of our governing bodies, our administrations, even our judiciaries, and, by extension, the laws that govern us and the composition of the courts that adjudicate our contests in law. Shouldn’t we demand of corporate persons the same restraints, behaviors and responsibilities that we demand of living persons in a civil society? We human beings have a responsibility to care for the young … shouldn’t they? We have a responsibility to refrain from violence, including emotional violence … shouldn’t they? We have a responsibility not to illegally take or despoil public property, including components of the environment like the air we all breathe and the water we all drink … shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t our governing bodies, in writing new statutes and regulations, hold corporate ‘persons’ to the same standards of accountability, sanctions of law, and metes of justice as living persons are held? If not, why not?
 
If not, don’t corporate persons then become a special class of persons subject to a special class of laws? Which articles provide the basis for that in either our state or federal constitutions, I wonder?
 
Secondly, if Article 1, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution must be reconstrued in light of the Citizens United decision, to provide that inherency of power should also reside in corporate persons, aren’t any statutes enacted prior to Citizens United now also subject to reconstruction by the courts? For example, what constitutes murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide under the law when a corporate person stands accused of taking another person’s life — even accidentally — and how, exactly, will justice be meted out? Can the board of directors at an automobile company be accused of depraved indifference for burying test results when people later die in fiery crashes from frozen accelerators? Is lethal injection written in their Tarot, I wonder? Can the lab managers and chemists in a pharmaceutical company be held guilty of manslaughter when a medicine they create proves deadly? Will they stand the gallows for the nickle ride? I’m told that corporate executives are protected by various laws that shield them from criminal culpability, but should they continue to be so shielded in light of Citizens United? Shouldn’t someone in a corporation be compelled to suffer incarceration when a corporation is convicted of a crime, just as living persons are made to do? Perhaps punishment should be meted out among members of a corporation’s executive senior staff with names are drawn by lots? If corporate persons continue to be protected by laws that don’t apply to living persons, don’t they become a special class of persons, a privileged class, subject to a special class of laws that hold them to less stringent standards of behavior and less onerous sanctions of law?
 
Don’t corporate persons then become a kind of American Aristocracy?
 
Perhaps Article 1, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution must be excised or abandoned altogether in light of Citizens United. But how, exactly, should that be done in light of the delimiting phrase “… together with the right to alter, modify or reform such Government whenever the public good may require it.”? Does the “public good” require it? If not, then won’t revising the Minnesota Constitution require a state constitutional convention to accomplish? Have we received any guidance from the US Congress as to how to go about it? After all, it was the Enabling Act of February 26, 1857, that permitted the residents of the Minnesota Territory to elect delegates to a constitutional convention for the purpose of drafting a state constitution in the first place. Will we need a second Enabling Act to amend it, if the “public good” is not being served? Have we received any guidance from the US Senate, who ratified the state constitution after residents of our inchoate state approved it, as to whether a revised state constitution will need to be re-ratified? Absent re-ratification by the Senate, and in light of historical precedence in re-admitting to the Union those states held to be in rebellion against our federal government during the Civil War, if a state constitutional convention to correct deficiencies under Citizens United should radically alter the relationship between the State of Minnesota and our federal government, are there articles of constitution that might be devised by which our citizens can be held in a state of sedition?
 
Conversely, since Article 1, Section 1 stands in direct opposition to federal law post-Citizen’s United, are we Minnesotans and our state government now in a state of sedition? If not, then by failing to take steps to bring our constitution in conformance with federal law post-Citizens United, does that omission of action constitute a state of sedition?
 
Finally, doesn’t federal law post-Citizens United already create a constitutional conflict between Minnesota and the federal government with regard to those representatives we elect to Congress? Before they can be seated, each member of the House or the Senate is required to take an oath that reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
 
In light of Article 1, Section 1, how could any of Minnesota’s elected representatives to Congress possibly take their oath of office having no “mental reservation”? Article 1, Section 1 clearly states that all political power is inherent in the people, but federal law post-Citizens United says that it is not.
 
If federal law post-Citizens United stands in conflict with Article 1, Section 1 of the Minnesota State Constitution, as appears to me to be the case, doesn’t the oath of office our federal representatives must take put them in direct conflict with our state constitution and thereby the laws of our state? By taking the federal oath of office, aren’t our representatives in fact renouncing the laws of the state and their Minnesota citizenship, since “true faith and allegiance” to one clearly must embody an apostasy of faith and allegiance to the other?
 
Doesn’t taking the federal oath require our representatives to abandon allegiance to our state government, our state laws, and to the citizens of Minnesota who elected them?
 
Moreover, our statewide elected officials (including Governor, Secretary, Attorney General and Supreme Court Justices) are all required to take a different oath of office by swearing to support both the US Constitution as well as the Minnesota State Constitution, while those we elect to federal government are only required to swear allegiance to the US Constitution. Is it then the case that those individuals we Minnesotans elect to Congress become antagonists to Article 1, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution when they take their oath of office and, by so doing, embody in their persons a form of federal nullification of our entire state constitution? That would appear to be the case, since Article 1, Section 1 states an overarching doctrine of government which informs all that follows: the very purposes for which government is instituted.
 
Since our statewide elected’s, including Governor and Attorney General, swear an oath to support the Minnesota Constitution and to “… faithfully discharge the duties of the office …” if they fail to take action to remove our federal elected’s from office for crimes against their fellow Minnesotans by taking the federal oath in contempt of Article 1, Section 1, would those individuals not be failing in their duties and subject themselves to removal from office, since Minnesota Statute M.S. 351.02 holds that if a person violates their oath of office by failing to carry out its duties the seat they occupy becomes vacant?
 
Would failing to arrest our federal elected’s the first time they return to Minnesota after taking the federal oath constitute an actionable malfeasance of office? Conversely, would doing so constitute sedition?
 
But, even before that consideration, can we Minnesotans even undertake elections of representatives to federal office when our state constitution stands in direct conflict with federal law post-Citizens United? That is, can we elect representatives under the aegis of one doctrine of government fully cognizant they will assume office under a different doctrine of government, the latter being inimical and antagonistic to the former? Doesn’t holding caucuses, conventions, primaries and elections under the doctrine of government established by Article 1, Section 1 constitute serial violations of federal law post-Citizens United? Don’t those actions then constitute acts of sedition against the federal government?
 
Since political parties engage in all those activities for the express purpose of electing representatives to federal government, wouldn’t repeated violations of state election laws in electing representatives to federal office then establish a record of habitual criminality? And since political parties and campaigns receive funds from corporations, unions, professional associations, PAC’s, and other special interests, presumably they, too, would be culpable for habitual criminal violations of election laws. Would success at the polls in electing federal representatives then expose political parties in Minnesota to prosecution under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act?
 
There are far too many ponderables to consider all in one go. Maybe that’s why no one is willing to look at the thing and try to tame it.
 
It seems likely that sooner or later someone will have to.
 

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: