Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Three Strikes You're Out; My Duty to Revoke Corporate Charters
Members of the public have asked me whether as Texas Attorney General I will apply a "three strikes and you're out" policy to corporations such as is applied to human beings, meaning whether I will take action to revoke a corporation's charter if it receives three criminal convictions.
Article 4, Section 22 of the Texas Constitution lays upon the Texas Attorney General the duty to monitor the activities of private corporations and to pursue judicial forfeiture of their charters upon sufficient cause. This is talking about civil action, not criminal prosecution. The burden of proof for the Attorney General in civil actions is less than the burden of proof in criminal prosecutions - proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not required. Thus the Constitution does not require conviction of crimes for the Attorney General to pursue charter revocation; rather, the legal requirement is "sufficient cause."
Since government belongs to the people and the Attorney General is the people's lawyer, any corporation's convictions of multiple criminal offenses would clearly be sufficient cause for me as Attorney General to undertake charter revocation action. After all, since the United States Supreme Court declared 120 years ago that corporations are persons under the 14th Amendment, the receipt of multiple criminal convictions entitles the people to treat corporations the same way the people treat human beings who receive multiple criminal convictions.
In addition, when I am Attorney General my duty to the people under the Texas Constitution will not allow me to set an arbitrary minimum threshold of misconduct, such as three criminal convictions, to trigger charter revocation action. Although the corporate government that runs the show today doesn't realize it, corporations are holders of public trust in that they operate under charters issued by the State granting them the privilege of corporate existence. Even one violation of the public trust - which need not necessarily be a criminal offense - may compel me to find sufficient cause to seek charter revocation under the Constitution if the violation is of a magnitude demonstrating that the corporation represents a continuing danger to the public trust.
posted by snarko! at 4:21 PM
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