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View Diary: Should we amend the US Constitution? Justice Stevens thinks so, incl. 2nd Amendment (new book) (321 comments)

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  •  Yes, it wasn't in the decision (3+ / 0-)

    it was in a headnote.

    The court reporter, former president of the Newburgh and New York Railway Company J.C. Bancroft Davis, wrote the following as part of the headnote for the case:
       "One of the points made and discussed at length in the brief of counsel for defendants in error was that 'corporations are persons within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.' Before argument, Mr. Chief Justice Waite said: The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."
    In other words, the headnote claimed that all of the justices believed that corporations enjoyed rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868. In fact, the headnote was only a reporting by the Court Reporter of the Chief Justice's personal interpretation of the Justices' opinions. The issue of applicability of "Equal Protection to any persons" to the railroads was not addressed in the decision of the Court in the case.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:18:19 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  The fact that a reporter misstated the holding of (0+ / 0-)

      that case really doesn't matter.  The Reporter was not declaring corporations to be "persons" in the sense that you and I are persons.  The point he was making was that corporations were entitled to some of the same constitutional protections as persons -- like due process.  Even if that concept was not part of that particular case, it is a non-controversial concept that dates back to at least 1819.

      The Supreme Court has never declared that corporations are persons.  The Supreme Court has -- repeatedly -- said that corporations enjoy some of the same constitutional protections as persons.  And it has to be that way.  A business could never function if its assets could be seized by the government at any time without due process, for example.  And as I pointed out, if corporations were not entitled to First Amendment protection, then the government could ban books, movies, magazines, photographs, etc. that it didn't like.

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