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Á La Citizens United, Should Corporations Exercise Influence Commensurate With A Vote?

          One may understand why there are those who find the debate regarding Citizens United  troublesome regardless of whether one supports or does not support the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing corporations to contribute to political campaigns. One question that arises is whether corporations are to be permitted virtually unrestricted and unfettered rights of political participation?  Do  corporations impose upon  the constitutional right to privacy, as an essential attribute of intangible property and a life-sustaining characteristic upon which individuals depend, when they participate in elections?

          Corporations do not possess a quality, property or characteristic as the sense of privacy that goes to innate, subconscious, free and unencumbered human thought and choice. Self-governance and self-sustainability, in behest of self-governance, are the founding requisites of a democratic republic. This right and privilege of every individual is founded upon the existence of personal integrity and privacy. If corporations are equal yet not so dependent upon a guarantee of this form of privacy, may American citizens maintain their privacy and freedom to participate without imposition? The state chartered corporation is a creature of statute that lacks the intuitive sense of  whether its thoughts and actions challenge its very survival and existence. Corporations exist absent the psyche. And, if corporations argue that business entities possess rights of property and privacy, American commercial law has long protected commercial confidentiality and intangible property interests through securities regulation, patent and copyright law, contract law among many.

         Historically, tradition provides the premise and understanding that modern corporations do not vote. So it difficult to justify and to establish the right of corporations to offer publicly disclosed campaign contributions similar in public influence and public suasion to a vote, if not to the election count. More essentially, around the globe, in history the ancient family and the ancient corporation were similarly governed as one corporeal entity, patriarchically, without the recognition of individual form. The Corporation sole was the pater, aggregated one with others.  Corporations and families have generational existence, in perpetuity, yet individuals do not, both historically and in the modern era. Says Sir Henry Sumner Maine: “Corporations never die, and accordingly primitive law considers the entities with which it deals, i. e. the patriarchal or family groups, as perpetual and inextinguishable. “ (Maine’s Ancient Laws, Chap. V. Disintegration of the Family).

          In discussing the historical transition, Maine states:

“Nor is it difficult to see  what is the tie between man  and man which replaces by degrees those forms  of reciprocity in rights and duties which have their  origin in the Family. It is contract. Starting  as from one terminus of history from a condition of society in which all the relations of Persons are summed up in the relation of the Family, we seem to have steadily moved towards a phase of social order in which all these relations arise from the free agreement of Individuals.”(Maine’s Ancient Laws, Chap. V. Disintegration of the Family).  For Maine, the Family and  the Corporation were both Groups, led patriarchically. There have come to be replaced by the Social Contract of one individual to another.

          One must observe the analogy of Maine with the Syllabus of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United, 556 U.S. 310, quoting Syllabus at 2(a):

“(a) Although the First Amendment provides that ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,’ §441b’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions. It is a ban notwithstanding the fact that a PAC created by a corporation can still speak, for a PAC is a separate association from the corporation. Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence. Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction ‘furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.’ WRTL, 551 U. S., at 464.” Yet, is the Corporate contribution or Corporate PAC too great a legal fiction in the modern era to compete with human life forms in the expression of political opinion?

          For, the Corporate PAC is  twice removed from the individual shareholder or corporate employee relative to the individuals of the Corporation sole  comprising the Corporation aggregate.  In Maine’s lengthy language:

“English lawyers classify corporations as Corporations aggregate and Corporations sole. A Corporation aggregate is a true corporation, but a Corporation sole is an individual, being a member of a series of individuals, who is invested by a fiction with the qualities of a Corporation. I need hardly cite the King or the Parson of a Parish as instances of Corporations sole. The capacity or office is here considered apart from the particular person who from time to time may occupy it, and, this capacity being perpetual, the series of individuals who fill it are clothed with the leading attribute of Corporations—Perpetuity Now in the older theory of Roman Law the individual bore to the family precisely the same relation which in the rationale of English jurisprudence a Corporation sole bears to a Corporation aggregate. The derivation and association of ideas are exactly the same. In fact, if we say to ourselves that for purposes of Roman Testamentary Jurisprudence each individual citizen was a Corporation sole, we shall not only realize the full conception of an inheritance, but have constantly at command the clue to the assumption in which it originated. It is an axiom with us that the King never dies, being a Corporation sole.” (Maine, Ancient Laws, Chap. VII Corporations Sole).

          As the purpose of the public recognition of and grant of existence to corporations is premised upon public interest principles of encouraging specialization and expertise in corporate productivity that transcends generations and is duly and ever more increasingly regulated and reviewed by both government and the public, what is the rationale or public interest in permitting corporations to exercise a constitutional right it cannot do via human means in its acknowledged name and form? If the concern is that traditional corporate subterfuge would encourage greater underhandedness than publicly communicated opinion as currently permitted by Citizens United and governmentally regulated Lobbyists, then, there may be no recourse than time. In the future, the development of regulation that would permit corporations to achieve ends now sought through political expression would end competition with voters and still permit voter review of corporate conduct through representative government.

 

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

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Is a Failure to Prosecute Utterances of “Hate Speech” and “Fighting Words” a Violation of Due Process by Ohio County Prosecutors in Not Protecting the Victim’s Constitutional Rights of Liberty, Privacy and Personhood?

Under Ohio law, Ohio Revised Code § 2917.11 regulates “hate speech” or “fighting words.”  This statute expressly prescribes “offensively coarse utterance [and] gesture[,]” and  “insulting [or] taunting [conduct] … likely to provoke a violent response.” § 2917.11(A)(2), (3).  This law lies within criminal provisions of the Ohio Revised Code denominated “Disorderly Conduct,” as one of many “Offenses Against the Public Peace” of Chapter 2917. Has any duly elected Ohio County Prosecutor recently invoked this provision?

How does the community resident evaluate whether the absence of arrest and prosecution in his or her Ohio County is a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion in regulating conduct under Ohio law? In what other ways are the constitutionally protected, basic and fundamental rights of Ohio citizens and residents to privacy and personhood, as incumbent within our essential rights of liberty and freedom, protected from independent, idiosyncratic, and isolated acts of speech contrary to personal integrity?

Ohio Revised Code § 2917.11 should be used by Ohio County Prosecutors to guide popular conduct, as a didactic tool. Section 2917.11 deters visceral, unkind speech directed, especially, to a person the potential perpetrator does not even know. And, importantly, this law looks to proscribe harmful words spoken when no logical rationale exists for devolving into such conduct when long historically permitted forms of expression and advocacy exist.

If traditional forms of expression, speech and  participatory politics are possible, conduct subject to prosecution under Ohio Revised Code § 2917.17 only evokes either fear harmful to one’s sense of personhood or, more difficultly, fear expressed in the form of a harmful or violent response from the victim of the unkind speech. Do we instead prosecute the victim for engaging in an improper response to unprovoked hate speech and let the utterer of fighting words go free? Why is the fearful, dependent spouse convicted of homicide for shooting a long abusive, domineering spouse while asleep and unlikely to rise up in confrontation? When is self-defense illegal?

Is an Ohio County Prosecutor’s  failure to prosecute hate speech and fighting words an unconstitutional disregard for the right of every individual to liberty,  privacy and personal integrity, all long respected by the U.S. Supreme Court? Should the Ohio County Prosecutor, as a state actor, be subject to civil action, under Section 1983 of  Title 42 of the U.S. Code, for such a failure to prosecute? The right to Due Process includes one’s liberty interests, and the duty of the Ohio County Prosecutor to protect the liberty interests of Ohio citizens and residents subject to personally intrusive fighting words and hate speech by prosecuting those engaging in hateful speech.  Does Section 1983 include a substantive due process right to challenge in Federal Court an Ohio County Prosecutor for the absence of prosecution of fighting words perpetrators under Ohio law?

The consequences arising from an Ohio County Prosecutor’s decision to not prosecute acts criminal under Ohio Revised Code § 2917.11 are self-defining and derive inherently from the Anglo-American Common Law giving rise to the U.S. Constitution. A want of review, regulation and criminalization results in a perpetuation and acculturation of illegal intent and conduct within our country. American criminal law has many purposes, including, deterrence, rehabilitation, restitution and retribution. Laws exist on the “statute books” for a reason. These are the reasons for Ohio Revised Code § 2917.11 .

How do we begin? How does the first individual abused as to self and personhood come forward in Federal Court and ask why his or her Ohio County Prosecutor did not seek redress on his or her behalf under expressly worded Ohio Law? Should such prosecution on the individual’s behalf be so permissive, and not a mandatory obligation of the duly ethical Ohio County Prosecutor under the professional rules and judicial decisions of the Ohio Supreme Court?

Life in our American Republic requires free speech and a sense of participation without fear and without improper inhibition. Justice and fairness in our democracy require that Ohio County Prosecutors act zealously, with best efforts and with a sense of being conservative to the utmost. Non action and a failure to prosecute potential perpetrators under enacted legislation is not conservative, it is the opposite. Prosecutorial discretion is both permissive and mandatory. Where do our State and Federal Courts draw the line?

In a democracy, free speech is a property right. It is not to only be accorded governmental protection as a permissive privilege.  In America, a citizen or resident should not feel as if he or she must ask permission of an equal to speak or live, for fear of becoming a victim of hostile words. He or she should freely speak. If the equal is inhibiting in a manner contrary to § 2917.11, the Ohio County Prosecutor should act.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls

Popular Participation and Involvement is Truly Feasible and Obligatory, Even as to the Most Complex Subject Matters of State Action (Comments submited to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.)

I submitted the Comments below in response to a Notice of  formal Rulemaking by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

 Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq. 

January 22, 2018

 

Secretary

Securities and Exchange Commission

100 F Street NE

Washington, DC 20549-1090

Sent via Email to: rule-comments@sec.gov

Re: File Number S7-09-17

 

Dear Secretary,

I write with interest in the proposed amendment of 17 C.F.R. Part 200, and the promulgation of regulations, to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §§ 200.80-200.80(g), by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC” or, alternatively, the “Commission”) regarding agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (the “FOIA”), 5 U.S.C §522, as amended by the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (the “Improvement Act”), Public Law 114-185, 130 Stat. 538. Please consider this letter submission of comments upon this proposed rule in response to the Commission’s notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments, as published in the Federal Register, on January 3, 2018, 83 Fed. Reg. 291-302. I support this new rule and I believe it achieves the Commission’s primary objectives as stated in the notice: to make revisions required by the Improvement Act, as well as to amend beyond the scope of the Improvement Act and utilize the necessary amendment to also “clarify, update, and streamline” current SEC regulation. 83 Fed. Reg. 292 (2018).

The supplementary information in the notice of this proposed rule states that the new rule essentially “codifies several existing practices” of the SEC, such as electronic responses to information requests and determination of the fees charged therefor. 83 Fed. Reg. 293 (2018). The SEC is longstanding, truly, in its fair reliance upon the incentives inherent within the American economy, and its principles of capitalism, to utilize advances in science and technology, primarily of the profit based commercial sector and marketplace, to the benefit of not only securities investors but also to the benefit of the nation.

In summary, the proposed rule permits reliance by major corporations upon information technologies currently in use, yet ensures individual requesters that their requests will be neither costly nor burdensome, with codification of a permissive outline of fees to be charged. 83 Fed. Reg. 299 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. § 200.80(g)(3)(i)). The proposed rule revises SEC FOIA request and response procedures to require the SEC to make disclosures of information available to the public in both the existing, traditional paper form as well as in various newly available electronic forms. 83 Fed. Reg. 295 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. § 200.80(a)). The new rule also provides all with assurances as to issues of privacy and financial records and data. 83 Fed. Reg. 295-296 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(b), (c)).

As in this instance, the SEC periodically refines and revises its own internal standards and procedures. It relies upon these informal decisions to transform intra-agency custom unto newly promulgated governing regulation. This proposed new rule is such an example. This rule provides user friendly information in which all participants, or, as denominated by the SEC “stakeholders,” in the global economy may share through due compliance, from the small individual investor, to the small, medium and large domestic or multinational business entity.

The new rule expressly acknowledges the various uses made of government information by diverse international market participants.  For, it categorizes and defines anticipated requesters of information, from the individual investor, the commercial entity, the publicly interested academic or scientific organization, to the journalist of the fourth estate. 82 Fed. Reg. 298-301 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(g)).

The SEC further achieves great clarity for the benefit of the public, as well as for the other branches of government, in that this new rule proposes to also define and explain the services the SEC offers and relies upon in responding to requests for information. 82 Fed. Reg. 298-302 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(g)). The rule states that a “search” for information maintained by agencies of the Federal government is agency action to determine whether information is relevant to a specific request, contra distinct from a “review” of records maintained by agencies of the Federal government, which is agency action to determine whether specific information requested is exempt from disclosure as required by law. 82 Fed. Reg. 299 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(g)(2)(vii), (viii)). And, the SEC charges fees for these defined services which vary according to the category of a specific information requester. 82 Fed. Reg. 299-300 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(g)(3), (4)).

The new rule places the burden of compliance with SEC FOIA request procedures, not upon the requester of information but, rather, upon the SEC itself. In that, the new rule requires that SEC staff members provide individual guidance to requesters, both before the requester initiates a request, and after the SEC acknowledges having received a request. 82 Fed. Reg. 296 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(b)(3)). The new rule, though cautioning requesters that the SEC Office of FOIA Services is primarily responsible for evaluating information requests, expressly provides guidance for requests “misdirected” to a division or office of the SEC other than the Office of FOIA Services. The rule also indicates that the SEC will collaborate, both intra-agency within the SEC and among the other Federal agencies, if necessary in order to respond to a request for information. 82 Fed. Reg. 296 (2018) (to be codified at 17 C.F.R. §200.80(c)(2), (3)).

In drafting and promulgating regulation over a practitioner’s continuum, the SEC achieves equilibrium in the burden of regulatory compliance to be borne itself, as the governing agency, and as to that to be borne by the public. It, thus, internally evaluates regulatory alternatives prior to offering a new rule for public review. The SEC both protects and encourages investment and maintains market efficiency, and thereby produces national prosperity and capital growth. It gleans, from public participation, research that provides diversity in thought in policy making, examination and enforcement, and so provides both information and guidance to private investors.

I thank you greatly for considering my comments on this rule. And, I may certainly be contacted as indicated above.

Sincerely,

Lori G. Nuckolls

 

In Pursuit of Both Common Good and Public Interest, Governmental Entities Should be Required to Promote Self-Governance (Written testimony before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review of the Ohio General Assembly.)

The text below is of a letter submitted yesterday, Christmas Day, in comment testimony before the Ohio General Assembly Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. It concerns proposed rule making by the Attorney General for the State of Ohio in implementation of federal funding to provide support services to victims of sexual abuse. It is to be considered during the Committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting, tentatively scheduled for January 8, 2018.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

December 25, 2017

Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review
The Ohio General Assembly
Vern Riffe Center
77 South High Street
Concourse Level
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Sent Via Email to: jcarr1@jcarr.state.oh.us

Re: Attorney General Proposed Rules 109:7-1-05 (disbursements) and 109:7-1-06 (definitions)

Dear Members of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review,

I write with interest in the proposed addition to the Ohio Administrative Code of new rules 109:7-1-05 and 109:7-1-06 by the Attorney General regarding the implementation of funding provisions for rape crisis programs under the auspices of the federal centers for disease prevention and control and denominated in the Ohio Revised Code as the “Rape crisis program trust fund.” Ohio Revised Code § 109.921. This program, as enacted, envisions comprehensive services for victims of sexual trauma.

The Ohio Revised Code mandates the Attorney General to provide funding to a “Rape crisis program,” which, as most broadly defined by statute, includes a “nonprofit [nongovernmental] entity that provides a full continuum of services to victims of sexual assault, including hotlines, victim advocacy, and support services from the onset of the need for services through the completion of healing ….” § 109.921(A)(1)(c) (emphasis added). And, the Ohio Revised Code states that “[a] rape crisis program that receives funding … shall use the money received …  for the following purposes [among others]:” “(2) …  hotlines, victim advocacy, or support services.” O.R.C.  § 109.921(D) (emphasis added). However, in contradiction to the foregoing express grant of statutory authority for the funding of “victim advocacy,” the new rule 109-7-05 proposed by the Attorney General expressly prohibits the use of funds for “Lobbying activities.” Proposed Rule 109-7-05(F)(1).

It does not seem that the Attorney General has included a definition of “Lobbying” in the proposed new rules. See, Proposed Rule 109:7-1-06 (definitions governing the trust fund). Nor does a definition of either “advocacy” or “lobbying” seem to appear in any other source of authority that would be applicable to this funding provision, apart and distinct from those generally previously existing under Ohio law. See, O.A.C. § 109:7-01-03 (definitions governing trust fund) and O.A.C. § 109:7-1-04 (procedures for submitting funding requests). See also, O.R.C. §101.70(E) (to “Actively advocate” deemed “Legislative lobbying.”); O.R.C. § 121.60(I) (“[C]ontacts made to promote, oppose, or otherwise influence … an executive agency decision” deemed “lobbying activity.”); and O.R.C. § 3517.20(A)(1), (2), & (3) (defining “Political communications” as those statements “for or against” or “advertising”).

The funding by the Attorney General should encourage productive informal discussions on diverse topics. The proposed funding would, and is needed to, do so. However, the prohibition on lobbying efforts in the proposed rule should be clarified for those entities to be funded. Discussion by program participants should relate to important, current issues in the community, especially as to those seeking support for transitions in difficult times. Activities financed under this trust fund would be an act of the governmental or nonprofit entity, and would not constitute a use of the funds by individual persons in behest of personal expression on various topics. Thus, some revision is indicated for the avoidance of express contradiction of the proposed rules with the authorizing legislation, and even as to contradiction within the very proposed rules, as to the use by the Attorney General of both “advocacy” and “lobbying.”

I offer that the Attorney General should modify the proposed rules to not expressly reach issues of “lobbying,” which under Ohio law includes advocacy. Rather, the Attorney General should only expect funding recipients to remain in compliance with the general laws governing lobbying and political influence. Consequently, funded centers could guide program participants on an individual basis as to personal issues and only be reviewed if they as fund recipients assert interested positions. This would prohibit persuasive statements or presentations by the funded entities which would constitute lobbying under Ohio law, yet still permit funds to support conversation among participants. And, the written informational material and oral presentations of advocacy organizations unaffiliated with the fund recipients could be made available in the ordinary course to permit informed decision making by program participants.

I thank you greatly for considering my comments on this rule. And, I may certainly be contacted as indicated above.

Sincerely,

Lori G. Nuckolls