“Corporate capture” is a phenomenon where private industry uses its political influence to take control of the decision-making apparatus of the state, such as regulatory agencies, law enforcement entities, and legislatures. When corporations draft legislation privately with lawmakers that they have significant influence over, this results in laws and policies that benefit corporations, while often harming the environment, low-income people, and communities of color.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has a long legacy of defending progressive political movements from attacks their opponents wage using the law. Corporate entities like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have used political influence to pass a series of laws that result in attacks against our allies. ALEC is an incubator and platform for spreading policies that support the political agenda of its corporate and conservative members. ALEC has become one of the most powerful, and lesser known, platforms of its kind in U.S. politics today.
In recent years, the Center for Constitutional Rights has defended several movements facing repressive laws that are affiliated with ALEC, such as animal rights activists targeted by Ag-Gag laws; water protectors that resist oil and gas infrastructure development targeted by Critical Infrastructure laws; and Palestinian rights activists targeted by anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions laws. ALEC has played a significant role in developing and promoting all these state laws with its members.
In the wake of these fights, the Center for Constitutional Rights has teamed up with our movement allies to focus on the source of some of these laws while we continue to defend our allies from the attacks directed at them. This work has involved litigating to demand that ALEC no longer meets with lawmakers in private to draft legislation; publishing research into ALEC’s activities; and supporting communities affected by ALEC to connect with each other for joint advocacy efforts when ALEC meets. One result of this collaboration is a report the Center for Constitutional Rights produced with our allies the Dream Defenders, Palestine Legal, The Red Nation and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The report is called "ALEC Attacks: How evangelicals and corporations captured state lawmaking to safeguard white supremacy and corporate power". The report covers the origins of ALEC and the long legacy that ALEC inspired laws have had on people of color.
Beyond our work addressing ALEC, the Center for Constitutional Rights is also targeting other ways corporations use their power to assume the authority of the state to advance their own private agendas. We have filed and litigated public records requests to reveal the extent of the private relationships between corporations and state agencies in the process of approving licenses corporations need for building fossil fuel operations in Louisiana. We have also litigated to demand that fossil fuel corporations exerting the authority of the state to expropriate people’s land should be subject to the same transparency requirements as state agencies.
The Center for Constitutional Rights Corporate Capture Project will develop additional litigation and political advocacy activities in the coming years to address the corporate control of law and policy making, which is a root cause of corporate human rights abuses.