Part 1 - Corporations, democracy, & the rise of grassroots popular power
Class 2: Elections
Campaign finance, Election Integrity, Citizens United, Money in electoral system.
Solutions- Move to Amend, Transparency, Publicly Financed elections, Your ideas
Purpose: To illustrate how our electoral system is manipulated and made dysfunctional by corporate power and suggest grassroots solutions citizens can take to alleviate the problem.
Readings: Justice Rising, Spring 2005, Creating Honest Elections: Problems, People, Solutions; Summer 2011, Money in Democracy, Pt 1: Reclaiming Our Elections; Fall 2016, The People's Vote Must Count
Handouts: Questions &Talking Points, Article Rankings
Paradigm: The common narrative is that our elections are honest and fair. This class brings participants face to face with the reality that money power is choosing the candidates, putting initiatives on the ballot, and manipulating the electoral process to produce results most beneficial to corporate and monied elites.
Context: Campaign finance has long been the central public concern about corporate money in politics. The roots of this crisis go back more than a century to the 1883 elimination of the spoils system — where government employees contributed to their party’s campaign committees in order to keep their jobs.
This change occurred as huge monopolistic trusts were funneling mountains of cash into the coffers of wealthy corporations. As public opinion turned against trusts and public officials began enacting public policies that curbed corporate power, it became apparent to corporate executives that corporations had to take control of public-policy making. The vacuum left by the elimination of the spoils system offered them the perfect opportunity.
As the graphic at the beginning of this class description shows, money dominated the 1896 Presidential election. By that time the Populist Movement, at the heart of the pushback against corporate monopoly power, had elected governors and congressional candidates, and its Presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryant, was running as the Democratic Party standard bearer.
Corporate titans realized that their privileged position could be destroyed if Bryant became President. John D. Rockefeller‘s Cleveland, Ohio corporate cohort, Mark Hanna, headed up a powerful corporate-funded political campaign for Republican Presidential nominee, Ohio Governor William McKinley. It raised far more money than had ever been raised before and out-fundraised the Democrats five to one. The ability of corporations to flood the election with money allowed them to set public policy for years to come and established a fundraising model dependent on corporate money that increasingly dominates our elections.
The Watergate scandal in the mid-1970s highlighted the corruption of the corporate-funded campaign system and pushed legislators to pass campaign finance reform laws. Within a few years, however, the Supreme Court abrogated those laws. In Buckley v Valeo (1976) and First National Bank of Boston v Bellotti (1977), the court declared that money is equal to speech and gave corporations political speech rights, making it unconstitutional to limit corporate campaign spending.
Republicans were the first to take advantage of this change, spending 10 times as much as the Democrats in the 1980 Congressional elections, taking control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years, gaining 35 seats in the House, and electing Republican Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.
Elizabeth Drew, chronicling this change for the New Yorker, pointed out that this push for money in political campaigns unfortunately led elected officials to spend an overwhelming amount of time raising campaign funds, giving us “politicians who are exhausted, who can’t think clearly, who don’t think about the broad questions…Who don’t lead.”
The Democrats cashed in on corporate funding during the Clinton years. This achievement allowed them to drop their dependence on the working class and labor unions. As Thomas Frank points out, “A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party's old working-class commitment.” As wages have fallen and stock markets have surged, no major party is protecting the working class or confronting corporate power.
The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 essentially eliminated any restrictions on corporate money in elections, ratcheting up corporate spending in elections several notches. Corporations can now influence elections by paying into “independent” non-profits that spend vast sums of money to both support and oppose candidates. Much of the money cannot be traced to its source.
In 2012, millions of corporate dollars were spent on negative campaigning. Negative campaigning discourages citizens from voting, which is also part of the corporate strategy. Corporate-funded voter suppression and gerrymandering of electoral districts compromise the integrity of our elections, and corporate electronic voting machines threaten the veracity of the vote count.
Our electoral problems have risen to such an extent that the Supreme Court is now considering the constitutionality of gerrymandering while other courts are knocking down flagrantly oppressive voter ID laws. Staying one step ahead of these setbacks, corporate-friendly politicians are deleting thousands of names from voter rolls.
Corporate influence over our election system has become so flagrant that a series of popular efforts has arisen to counter corporate power in our elections. Move to Amend came into being on the day of the Citizens United decision. Almost 500,000 people have joined their effort to take away court-given corporate rights and to specify that money is not speech.
Their 28th amendment to the Constitution is necessary if the important effort promoting publicly financed elections is ever going to be successful. The non-profit Public Campaign facilitates publicly financed elections. There are also extensive efforts by many groups, including the Sunlight Foundation, to bring transparency into the electoral process. Finally, the National Election Defense Coalition and many other citizen groups are coming together to create honest elections and end voter suppression.
Activities: Stories are the best teaching tools. People remember them. The best stories are your stories derived from your personal experiences. Come up with stories that reflect the information in the historical context above and use them to start a good class discussion.
It is also good to introduce some current stories on this topic. There is always something new. A good source for this type of article is the Center for Responsive Politics’ website www.opensecrets.org, the premier site for researching money in politics. For articles on election integrity, check out Bev Harris’s Black Box Voting, Jonathan Simon’s Election Defense Alliance or the National Election Defense Coalition. The New York Times has also done surprisingly comprehensive reporting on corporate money in politics.
We have put together several handouts for you to use in this class. First is a chart on the impacts of Citizens United that shows the spiraling increase of money coming into elections. Second is a chart that shows the overwhelming dominance that Wall Street maintains over campaign finance. You can either use these charts or go to The Center for Responsive Politics website at opensecrets.org to get more up-to-date information and make your own charts.
You can also show the class one or several videos on elections. The best one is probably David Cobb’s Crash Course on corporations and elections. The video of David Daley discussing gerrymandering and the video of the Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also provide interesting information. Use all of these to stimulate engaging discussion in the class.
At the midway point in the class, take a break. In the second half of the class, use the questions on elections to stimulate discussion. Have students choose which questions they want to discuss. You, the facilitator, should also pick a few questions you think are most important to discuss. Use the Notes on Answers to help craft the discussions around each question. You may not get through all of the questions, but the discussion should be intriguing. Class participation is often the most engaging part of the class.
At the end of the class, pass out the list of books people can read if they want more in-depth knowledge on corporate money in elections. Finally, pass out the questions and talking points as well as the article rankings for the next class on policymaking, lobbying, and the revolving door.
Let us know if you have any questions about all of this. The day after the class, email the questions and reading priorities for the next class to everyone and include a current article on lobbying, think tanks, or the revolving door.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe another piece on corporate power and our public-policy-making proces
Class 3 Policy making
Corporate Political Macnine, Lobbying, Think Tanks, Revolving Door
Solutions: Occupy, Citizen Engagement, Washington Action?
urpose: To emphasize the central importance of corporate lobbying, think tanks, and the revolving door in corporate public-policy making. This class gives a contextual background on various ways corporations influence public-policy making. It also outlines some of the popular solutions to ensure that public policy is made for the common good and not for the corporate good.
Readings: Justice Rising, Winter, 2013, $ In Democracy Part 2, Who—or What—Occupies the Government Control Room?; Spring 2013, $ in Democracy Part 3, Policymakers—Committed to Public Values or Corporate Agendas?
Handouts: Questions & Talking Points, Article Rankings
Paradigms: Citizens have a right to address their grievances to the government, and public employees should have a commitment to promote the common good. This class brings participants face-to-face with two realities:
(1) Multi-national corporations have claimed our right to address our government and used that right to beleaguer elected officials and public servants with their special-interest lobbying; and
(2) Corporate-friendly public administrators often create a corporation-to-government revolving door that puts corporate interests in the public policy driver’s seat.
This corporate-funded revolving door uses Congress and public service as a training ground for future lobbyists, offering huge compensation when public servants leave government service.
Context: Public-policy making is the central operation of our political system, and it is important for citizens in an age of corporate power to understand how money power and corporate interests manipulate our political system.
Wealthy Americans came out on top after the American Revolution. John Hancock was the wealthiest man in America when he signed the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington was the wealthiest man in America when he became the first president of the United States. All hopes that the American Revolution was for the common man who fought in the trenches were smashed by state laws that allowed only white male property owners to vote and by the defeat of Shays Rebellion in 1787.
The roots of Shay’s Rebellion grew out of the first actions of the American Revolution in the early 1770s. In those years, farmers in Western Massachusetts got rid of the oppressive taxing and judicial system of the British Empire by surrounding British courthouses in their towns and making the British judge, hat in hand, walk the gauntlet of irate farmers and accept banishment from town. By the time of Lexington and Concord, all British authority had been vacated from Western Massachusetts and pushed into Boston.
Ten years later, with the United States and independent country, the farmers in Western Massachusetts were appalled when they discovered that now American legislators and judges were creating laws in their towns favoring the American upper class, leaving farmers once again burdened by unfair taxes.
In response, farmers again came together, bravely took over the courthouses, made the judges depart, and established their own local authority. Outraged, Boston merchants financed an army to defeat the farmers, bringing Shay’s rebellion to an end. But that was not the end of the story.
The new American aristocracy throughout the United States felt frightened by the rebellion of the farmers and anxious about the inability of the federal government to raise an army to fight them. These concerns led a small group of prosperous, slave-owning, white men to secretly write the Constitution of the United States under the guise of rewriting the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution they proposed created a strong central government that could raise an army and protect the interests of the wealthy.
Jumping ahead to the 1960s, popular rebellions again shook the United States.
• A massive uprising to free blacks from the oppression they had long endured succeeded in removing many of the barriers that had kept them from voting.
• Women re-energized the movement for female liberation and began getting some legal control over their bodies.
• A massive anti-war movement forced the American Empire to retreat from its imperial war against the Vietnamese people and questioned the efficacy of the American military.
Culturally and politically, the corporate–financed political class was losing power. In 1973, Lewis Powell, a corporate, tobacco-lawyer from Virginia and president of the American Bar Association, started an aggressive corporate counterattack on the popular causes coming out of the 1960s. Powell sent the now-famous Powell Memo to the US Chamber of Commerce encouraging corporate America to dominate public-policy making by taking over the electoral system, the courts, the universities, the media etc.
After reviewing his plea, corporate America took action.
• Joseph Coors provided $250,000 to start the Heritage Foundation.
• William E. Simon, Nixon and Ford’s Treasury Secretary, became the head of the John M. Olin Foundation and formed a relationship with the Bradley, Scaife, and Smith Richardson Foundations to establish a stable of conservative think tanks and legal firms across the country to promote the public policies of the corporate right.
The various Scaife Foundations received their funding from investments of the Mellon family, including BNY Mellon Bank, Alcoa Aluminum, and Chevron. Richard Scaife, head of the Scaife Foundation, was vice president of the Heritage Foundation and granted it more than $20 million. Like their fellow corporate-funded foundations, Scaife gave money to create an institution that met corporate needs.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation joined the Scaife Foundations in the early days of funding corporate-right think tanks. Their funding came from the military contractor Rockwell Inc. Their grantees include the American Enterprise Institute, The Hoover Institute, and the Federalist Society.
The corporate-right influence in Washington has also drawn traditionally liberal think tanks into their sphere. The Brookings Institute is the granddaddy of liberal think tanks. Now, “much of Brookings’ top brass has come from Republican administrations,” according to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which then provides, “A brief sampling of some 138 corporate supporters: Bell Atlantic, Citibank, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, NationsBank, Exxon, Chevron, Microsoft, HP, Toyota, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, DuPont, Mobil and Lockheed Martin, and the foundations of companies like American Express, Travelers, AT&T, GM, ADM and McDonnell Douglas. A few media conglomerates, like Time Warner and the Washington Post Co., are among the donors.”
Of course, there are also liberal think tanks that receive corporate money, but they do not usually spend it on promoting pro-corporate public policies. They may, however, still be part of the Washington consensus that promotes corporate empire. We will discuss the difference between the Republican and Democratic approaches to corporate empire in Part 4 on globalization.
Examining one of the biggest roles of think tanks takes us back to the revolving door. Think tanks act as placeholders for political pundits who are waiting to have their corporate allies back in power again so they can revolve into a federal job. This is true of think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute as well as established think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which was founded by and always connected with the big New York banks. CFR has revolved almost all of the top State Department managers into their jobs for the past century.
Corporate-friendly think tanks manifested the agenda of the corporate right using democracy-friendly terms: Greed was replaced by “entrepreneurialism,” and the control of politics and the economy by monopolistic corporations was renamed the “free market.” They debilitated the regulatory system by promoting voluntary compliance and market-based solutions for regulatory policies. They also provided the media with free, corporate-friendly research articles and supplied government officials with corporate–friendly public policies ready to be enacted.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brought corporate CEOs, politicians and policy makers together to promote corporate-right legislation in states across the country, also rose out of this bubbling cauldron of corporate initiatives.
A few months after Lewis Powell wrote his memo to the Chamber of Commerce outlining how corporations could take over public policy making, he joined the US Supreme Court and strongly participated in the judicial decisions that made money equal to speech and gave corporations free speech rights enabling corporations to vastly expand their political campaign contributions.
All this set the groundwork for our current situation, with corporate-friendly regimes controlling both houses of Congress and a majority in the Supreme Court while a corporate CEO sits in the White House with a cabinet mainly made up of other corporate CEOs.
Activities: Telling the stories of Shay’s Rebellion and the Powell memo is a good introduction to elite control of our public-policy making. We do have videos on our video list that will help tell the story, but you may have to fill in some of the holes.
Lobbying: It would be great to start off the discussion of lobbying by showing the 14-minute section of Sixty Minutes of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff after he got out of jail. It is one of the most straightforward descriptions of life in DC I have ever seen. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHiicN0Kg10
You can amplify the discussion on lobbying with three charts we have developed. The first compares spending on lobbying and campaign finance and shows the increasing amount of money being spent on lobbying — almost seven times what is being spent on campaign finance. This chart also shows how dominant the money industry — sometimes called FIRE for finance, insurance and real estate -- is in the lobbying world. My friends in Washington tell me that the most innocuous wording in a bill that might impact the money industry is descended upon by an army of lobbyists to wipe those words out of the law.
In these days of concern about climate change, the second chart shows the expanding lobbying expenditures of the energy industry as talk of climate change and carbon taxation grew in Washington. There is an article by Bill McKibben on this topic in the Justice Rising reading for this class.
The final chart shows the amount of money spent on lobbying along with the number of registered lobbyists in the past 18 years. It is significant that the number of lobbyists has dropped considerably, not because the number of people acting as lobbyists has declined, but that the number of people registering as lobbyists has declined. Here is a link to a revealing article about John Boehner after he quit Congress. He went to work for one of the largest lobbying firms in DC, Patton Boggs, headed by the son of ex-Congressman Hale Boggs. As you can tell from the story, he was hired as a lobbyist but is not registering as one. It is another odd mix of lobbying and the revolving door. The Center for Responsive Politics is the source of all of these charts and articles. You can find them at Opensecrets.org
Revolving Door: We run into the revolving door between corporate wealth and public policy makers constantly in this course. It permeates the entire federal government. Here is a chart that shows how widespread the revolving door phenomenon is across industries and how many revolvers there are from each of the industries.
Even more revealing are Venn Diagrams that show the connections between the individual revolvers, the company or industry they are involved with, and the position they held or maybe still hold in the federal government. Here is a link to one about the oil industry and one about Monsanto.
You can also show this segment about the revolving door from the Bill Moyers Show, which always has good information. http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-washingtons-revolving-door/
Think Tanks: Massive corporate foundation funding of a host of conservative think tanks with specific, pro-corporate agendas developed quickly out of the Powell Memo. Here are some charts from a Drexel University Study on the funding of climate-change–denying think tanks. The first one shows the funding foundations. The largest funder on that chart, Donors Trust/Capital Trust, is an entity established in 1999 for people and foundations that want to remain totally anonymous. In this age of increasing political-money obscurity, the biggest donors to climate denial are secret. They make up 14% of the total donations, twice as much as the Scaife Foundations, the next largest donor.
The Kochs are the fourth biggest donors to the climate deniers. They have become infamous in recent years for contributing a lot of money to pro-corporate causes like Americans for Prosperity. Among their many pro-corporate grantees is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that brings corporate CEOs and allied state politicians together to create pro-corporate public policy.
The next chart shows the climate denying think tanks that received corporate-funded foundation largesse. As you can see, the largest recipients are the same think tanks that developed and grew after Powell wrote his memo in the early 1970s. The American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, Manhattan Institute and Cato Institute received half the money paid out to climate denying think tanks. All these think tanks know what the corporate-funded foundations want and how to provide it.
By now it should be time to take a break. Follow that up with a discussion of the questions for the readings. Here are some notes to the answers. Make sure that you also share the list of books for this class and pass out the questions and article rankings for the next class on courts and corporations. It would also be good to distribute a printed version of Jan Edwards’ and Molly Morgan’s article Abolish Corporate Personhood that you can access here or have the class access it at http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/pdf/CP_article.pdf
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on elite influence over the courts.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe a piece on corporate power and our courts.
Class 4: courts
Elite Power, Personhood Rights Timeline
Solutions: Anti Federalists, Other Models of Judicial Systems, Citizen Engagement
Purpose: Educate the class about how our judicial system, from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), to the federal appeals courts, down to the State Supreme Courts, is being utilized as a mechanism of corporate and monied elite power and what role “corporate personhood” plays in this process.
Readings: Justice Rising, Spring 2010, Courts and Corporations vs. Our Common Good, Abolish Corporate Personhood byJan Edwards and Molly Morgan,
Handouts: Questions & Article Rankings, Talking Points
Paradigm: The common narrative is that judges are impartial and fair individuals above the common political fray. This class brings people face-to-face with the reality that judges have long been politicians in robes and often arbiters on the side of wealth and power.
Context: In the debate over the US Constitution, many American patriots were horrified that the new Constitution proposed an undemocratic, unaccountable, life-long Supreme Court that the patriots saw as a reinstallation of the monarchy, able to solve any conflict in favor of the elite.
As Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan point out in their piece Corporate Personhood, which is part of the readings for this class, “The pattern over more than two centuries of US legal history is that people acquire rights by amendment to the Constitution — a long and difficult, but democratic, process — and corporations acquire them by Supreme Court decisions.” They go on to say that “It is important to remember what a corporation is, to understand the implications of corporate personhood for democracy. A corporation is not a real thing; it’s a legal fiction, an abstraction. You can’t see or hear or touch or smell a corporation — it’s just an idea that people agree to and put into writing. Because legal personhood has been conferred upon an abstraction that can be redefined at will under the law, corporations have become super humans in our world.
• A corporation can live forever.
• It can change its identity in a day.
• It can cut off parts of itself — even its head — and actually function better than before.
• It can also cut off parts of itself and from those parts grow new corporations.
• It can own others of its own kind and it can merge with others of its own kind.
• It doesn’t need fresh air to breathe or clean water to drink or safe food to eat.
• It doesn’t fear illness or death.
• It can have simultaneous residence in many different nations.
• It’s not male, female, or even transgendered.
• Without giving birth it can create children and even parents.
• If it’s found guilty of a crime, it cannot go to prison.”
Then they go on to ask, “What would change if corporations did not have personhood? The first and main effect would be that a barrier would be removed that is preventing democratic change just as the abolition of slavery tore down an insurmountable legal block, making it possible to pass laws to provide full rights to the newly freed slaves. After corporate personhood is abolished, new legislation will be possible. Here are a few examples.
• If ‘corporate persons’ no longer had First Amendment right of free speech, we could prohibit all corporate political activity, such as lobbying and contributions to political candidates and parties.
• If ‘corporate persons’ were not protected against search without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment, then corporate managers couldn’t turn OSHA and the EPA inspectors away if they make surprise, unscheduled searches.
• If ‘corporate persons’ weren’t protected against discrimination under the 14th Amendment, corporations like Wal-Mart couldn’t force themselves into communities that don’t want them.”
Our current Supreme Court, which gave us the Citizens United decision in 2010, is the culmination of a long push stimulated by the money and political drive coming out of the Powell Memo. Starting in that period there was a coordinated drive to change law schools and legal thinking in the direction of free market analysis and libertarianism.
The Federalist Society, founded by Reagan’s Attorney General and promoted by deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, acts as the biggest provocateur constructing the conservative legal movement. It gives lip service to returning to the original intent of the country’s founders, but it fails to renounce later judicial decisions that increased the power of money in this country, including the acceptance of corporate personhood, the concept that money is equal to speech and all of the corporate rights that allow corporations to dominate our public-policy making.
The financial backing for the Federalist Society has come from the Scaife Family Foundations, the Koch brothers, Chevron, and Google. It is openly acknowledged that without their support the Federalist Society would have never come into being.
Many groups are working to solve the problems the pro-corporate, conservative legal movement has created. The group Move to Amend (MTA) is promoting one of the primary solutions. Founded in response to the Citizen United decision in 2010, it is a coalition of hundreds of citizen groups determined to pass a Constitutional amendment, (the 28th), to end corporate personhood and make sure that money is not considered equal to speech in our laws. They have 54 chapters in 16 states. Check out their website at https://movetoamend.org/
There are many ways people can get involved with Move to Amend, including:
• Forming a local group;
• Passing a local resolution in support of the Constitutional amendment;
• Signing the petition in support of the 28th Amendment;
• Stamping your money with any of several messages such as, “A Corporation is Not a Person, Money is Not Speech” or “Not to be Used For Bribing Politicians.”
There are many groups working to resolve the problems of the Citizens United decision, but none of them covers the corporate personhood and money as speech issues like Move to Amend. Free Speech for the People, https://freespeechforpeople.org/and American Promise, http://www.americanpromise.net/ support an amendment that would limit corporate rights but do not necessarily take on the money as speech issue or push to take away all judicially created corporate rights. All these groups are working together and the thinking seems to be that in the end there will be consensus on what will work best. They all address different constituencies. American Promise brings together a long list of prominent politicians. Free Speech for the People is headed by long-time voter rights advocate John Bonifaz and brings the voters rights groups into the discussion. You can check them all out but beware of other groups who just use the Citizens United issue as a fund-raising tool and are not committed to pursuing the tough changes needed to control corporate power.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund takes another approach. It has written an ordinance for local governments to take charge of their elections and end corporate personhood in their jurisdictions. See their section on corporate rights and read their ordinance at their website www.celdf.org
Activities: There are two major activities for this class. The first is a discussion of the connection between Supreme Court judges and America’s monied elite. It uses the center section from Justice Rising Vol. 5 #3 regarding three Supreme Courts as a starting point for discussion. You can download it here and have it printed out on a 36" plotter. It shows the history and make-up of:
• The original US Supreme Court;
• The Supreme Court of the 1880s that cemented corporate personhood as a legal precedent;
• The current Roberts court.
It is a startling confirmation that the Supreme Court has long supported the power of the monied elite. Here are notes for talking about the center section presentation.
The second important activity for this class is a discussion of the ways that corporations have gained rights over the past 250-years as opposed to the way citizens have gained rights over that same period. This discussion uses the Timeline of Corporate and Human Rights, which shows various court cases where corporate-friendly judges gave corporations rights and the huge social movements that had to develop to give citizens more rights. This timeline can be printed out on a series of 8.5x11 sheets of paper. However, you can also download larger presentation versions at https://movetoamend.org/timeline. Depending on the wall space available, the 26” tall version is best for presentations but ends up being about 17 feet long. Choose one and have it printed out on a plotter. Mount it on the wall before the class begins so that people can inspect it when they have time. Here are notes for discussing the Timeline, but you can also choose your own cases to talk about.
If you can, invite a speaker from Move to Amend or any of the other groups to talk about what they are doing. If not, you can certainly show MTA’s 30-minute video, Legalize Democracy, to the class. You can find it at https://movetoamend.org/toolkit/legalize-democracy-discussion-guide
These discussions can easily take up the first part of the class. If you run out of time, you can always talk about the solutions in the second part of the class. Take a break in the middle. In the second part of the class, discuss the questions for the readings. Here are some notes for discussing those questions.
Since the questions do not cover the piece on Corporate Personhood by Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan, it would also be good to discuss that document. Here are some notes on the most important ideas in that article.
Before the end of the class, present this list of books for further reading on courts and corporations. Before everyone leaves, pass out the talking points, questions and article rankings for the next class, which is the first class in Part 3: Crisis of Economics and Visions for the Future and looks at Climate Change, Resource Depletion and Global Pollution.
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on corporate money in politics.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe a piece on the machinations of our corporate-dominated economic system.