Statement concerning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Action Alert of WILPF ‘s National Campaign to:

Abolish Corporate Personhood is the national action of WILPF’s campaign to Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights. One of our goals is to influence the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to abandon its position that corporations deserve the right to free speech.

We believe that the Constitution's Bill of Rights exists exclusively to protect the rights of living human beings. Since 1886, however, U.S. courts have adopted the premise of "corporate personhood"-- the claim that corporations, as a type of legal "person," deserve the protections of our Bill of Rights. Armed with the right to free speech, corporations have legally corrupted our political system through lobbying and virtually unlimited campaign donations, thwarted citizen efforts to inform the public about products by exercising their “right” not to speak, and monopolized public discourse with the corporate perspective through control of the mass media.

The ACLU defends free speech for corporations. In fact, in 2002 it filed a brief in a California lawsuit supporting the Nike Corporation's freedom of speech! The case, Kasky v. Nike, may be heard by the Supreme Court in the course of 2003. We want the ACLU to change its position, so we are urging WILPF members and branches to act now. The ACLU and WILPF have long been colleagues and allies. We respectfully believe that the ACLU can and should be able to distinguish between human beings and corporations without compromising First Amendment protections for their intended beneficiaries --We the People.

What you can do:

WILPF members who belong to the ACLU can initiate or join efforts in their local ACLU chapters to reverse the ACLU position.

Tell the ACLU that you will not renew your membership until they reverse their position.

Write to the ACLU asking that it change its position on corporate speech and corporate personhood:

American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004-2400

Legal briefs requesting the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in Kasky v. Nike are due at the end of October, 2002 so it is urgent that you let the ACLU know immediately how you think they should act. Please send a copy of your letter(s) to Jen Geiger at the Philadelphia office so we can track WILPF's efforts in this campaign.

For more information:
Details and analysis about Kasky v. Nike, corporate personhood, and corporate free speech can be found at

The contact person for WILPF’s Abolish Corporate Personhood legal/research working group is Doug Hammerstrom, who can be reached at 707.884.1826 (California) or via email at

For any other information, contact WILPF's program coordinator, Gillian Gilhool, at the WILPF office, 215.563.7110, or via email at

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