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Mother Jones has a piece up with an excellent legal history of how we have gotten to this ridiculous point in our history. I strongly recommend the article. We need to stop this trend. If a company seeks the protections of the corporate veil they should be prohibited from asserting the rights of an individual. I guess as an alternative we could all become corporations?

We should begin an ALEC like project of model legislation restricting the "rights " of corporations and start in Deleware.

The piece can be found here

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Comment Preferences

  •  The more interesting and enlightening debate, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, Catte Nappe

    I think, is about the "entity theory" versus the "nexus of contracts" theory. Is a corporation a "thing" that does stuff, or is it a web of contracts and agency? This has been a pretty theoretical debate for quite awhile, but the court in Citizens and especially in Burwell is using the nexus theory to inform its jurisprudence.

  •  I would have included the Dartmouth College (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    case from the Marshall Court, which established federal constitutional protections for corporate charters and affirmed their independent existence.  What's striking is none of the decisions were particularly outrageous until the Roberts Court, where they used corporate form as a sword not just a shield.  People complain about the Santa Clara case, but the law in question that was struck down was pretty outrageous - assessing different property taxes depending on whether or not a single corporation owned the land to keep it away.  Municipalities shouldn't be able to do that, and the legal holder of the property should have standing to assert an EP claim.  Assigning that right to the owners of the corporation would be more akin to what Alito did in Hobby Lobby.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 10:08:45 AM PDT

  •  It's a faith-based construction (0+ / 0-)

    The legal model of a corporation is as an artificial entity that separates owners from the company's operations.  There is a lot of value to such a legal construction -- try running any entity of any size as a general partnership.

    Lawyers, being terrible with the English language, needed to describe what happens when you make a contract with a corporation.  In the real world, a corporation is not a "person" in the Mitt Romney sense.  But it does need to be able to own property and sign contracts and pay bills in the name of the corporation.  Thus, the lawyers called it a "corporate person."

    The inability to distinguish between an incorporated entity and its owners is a fundamental misunderstanding of business law.  The corporation has no rights at all independent of the rights of its owners.  Now, obviously, those owners have certain rights.  You can't expropriate a corporation without compensation, not because corporations are people (because they aren't) but because its owners are, directly or indirectly, natural persons who have a right not to have their property confiscated without due process.

    The idea of "corporate people" is a fundamental part of the social and economic model of the antebellum Confederacy.  (The family unit, the man as the leader of the family unit -- assuming he owned property, otherwise he was property, are all part of this process.  (A corollary is that any organizational structure is basically a church.)   After the 14th amendment, this was a good way to try to make an end run around the new rules.

  •  It's almost like Bush v. Gore revisited! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    We win the vote, but They win the election.

    Mitt says, "Corporations are people, my friend!"

    And, the people say, "The Hell they are!  No, they are not!"

    And, the Supreme Court, says, "But, we find by a vote of 5-4, that corporations are people with religious beliefs superior to real people, my friends."

    And, the people say, "WTF?"  Who are those guys in black robes?  Does Clarence Thomas ever wake up to listen to an oral argument, or does he just repeat whatever Antonin Scalia tells him to say?

    If Money is Speech, Speech isn't Free! I wonder what it is about that that Antonin Scalia cannot understand?

    by NM Ray on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:03:59 PM PDT

  •  I have a penchant for this issue and wrote (0+ / 0-)

    a detailed diary about it a number of years ago, which you can peruse here: Santa Clara County vs Southern Pacific Railroad - The Full Story. That diary was written because I commented in Chuck Schumer's  02/02/10 diary on Citizens United vs FEC.

    The pertinent portion of the great background on Corporate Personhood and How it Happened is this section here:

    1886 (County of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad): Now that corporations were legally citizens, corporate attorneys worked to expand their rights. When California officials levied a special tax on the Southern Pacific Railroad, the railroad sued, arguing that singling out the company violated its rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect freed slaves. In a strange twist, the court reporter—a former railroad man—wrote in the published notes on the case that the 14th Amendment did, in fact, apply to the company. Even though this notion appeared nowhere in the high court's actual ruling, 11 years later the court declared it was "well settled" that "corporations are persons within the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment," citing Santa Clara.

    [emphasis added]

    My linked diary makes the same case, but with more details.

    Under these circumstances, I deeply wish that the ACLU would challenge the basis of all current Corporate law which rests upon the stare decisis created in this ONE CASE. They could challenge any case which prevailed since 1886 and did so upon the stare decisis created by Santa Clara vs Southern Pacific and which pled before the Court for access to Rights which legal personhood would grant them.

    Imagine, if you will, a different sort of America.

    Where no one talks about legal entities created to shield investors personal assets from a failed business venture as though they are PEOPLE with access to Constitutionally guaranteed Rights.

    Where your boss's "religious beliefs" are in no way pertinent to the question of what sort of insurance you can acquire via the in-lieu-of-wage-benefit from said employer.

    I'd like to live there, how about you?

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:06:34 PM PDT

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