Corporations Are People Too

by A. Jay Adler on January 22, 2010
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Yesterday a five-judge liberal conservative activist majority conservatively radically respected overturned a century of multiple Supreme Court precedents and with respect contempt for the original intent of the framers, more fully than ever declared that corporations are people deserving of “special rights” – the right to buy elections. (You don’t have enough money to buy an election, do you? Probably your friend doesn’t – unless, of course, your friend is a corporation. Now we know what “of the people, by the people, and for the people” means to conservatives.) But don’t worry, haven’t the big financial institutions demonstrated well enough already how concerned they are with our interests, how responsibly they will use their money?

Obama got elected, liberals got comfy. Conservative crazies stole the show. Maybe this conservative-court/corporate hijacking can reignite liberals the way healthcare did the kool aid tea drinkers. New legislation is possible.

Sign Congressman Alan Grayson’s petition. (He’s no punk.)

Sign the Organizing for America/MyBarackObama petition.

AJA


5 comments

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John Curran January 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

I want to add to my post of yesterday about the court’s ruling in the case at hand. I quote Justice Kennedy:

“…[w]hen Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

I have not seen one liberal commenter mention that our government argued last March that is has the constitutional authority to ban books that mention a candidate for federal office. Not one.

Does anyone on the left recognize the implications of this?

Keith Olbermann said that this ruling is “our Dred Scott” and raved about companies now being able to say anything they want about elections. Keith gets a paycheck from NBC, which is owned by GE. He is either a hypocrite or a fool. I’m going with fool.

The reality, Keith, is that this ruling is the best decision on civil rights since Brown v. Board of Education.

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John Curran January 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

The Wikipedia entry on corporations makes the following points: “Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like actual people. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state,[2] and they may be responsible for human rights violations.[3] Just as they are “born” into existence through its members obtaining a certificate of incorporation, they can “die” when they lose money into insolvency. Corporations can even be convicted of criminal offences, such as fraud and manslaughter.”

In the history of common law, the idea of a corporation being treated as a person was established long before 1886.

“In Louisville, C. & C.R. Co. v. Letson, 2 How. 497, 558, 11 L.Ed. 353 (1844), the U.S. Supreme Court held that for the purposes of the case at hand, a corporation is “capable of being treated as a citizen of [the State which created it], as much as a natural person.” Ten years later, they reaffirmed the result of Letson, though on the somewhat different theory that “those who use the corporate name, and exercise the faculties conferred by it,” should be presumed conclusively to be citizens of the corporation’s State of incorporation. Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 16 How. 314, 329, 14 L.Ed. 953 (1854).” [see the Wikipedia entry on "legal person"]

Remember the first amendment does not say Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech unless the speaker is a business or organization that we don’t like.

Abridging this right is a violation of equal protection under the law. Since a corporation can be sued as an individual, the entity also has a recognized right to defend itself and to speak on its own behalf. Political matters have a bearing on the well-being of corporations. They should be allowed to voice their objections to candidates who oppose them or to agreement with those who support them.

We have a century of legislation restricting freedom of speech in this country for business entities that often have conflicts with unions or workers. Liberals like this for the obvious reason that it puts limits on people they regard as enemies. If they were really liberals, they would have never supported the laws that were struck down this week.

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gramps January 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Read the first amendment. This wasn;t about corporations as people, it was about restrictions on goverment and its ability to regulate speech. All speech.

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A. Jay Adler January 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm

gramps, there are only two kinds of rights-holding entities referred to in all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights, people and states, and the latter are only mentioned in the tenth. Legal notions of “corporate personhood” were first established with the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision. Other decisions over the years – all affected by yesterday’s judgment – have regulated that notion. The idea that this is a nation of people, with desires and aspirations the Constitution was established to protect and advance, is in the Constitution’s very preamble. There is nothing about corporations. No concept of corporations as people, no issue, no decision.

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