View Poll Results: Should Corproations have "personhood" rights?

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  • Yes, corporations are just like a person

    18 18.18%
  • No, corporations are not just like a person

    81 81.82%
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Thread: Corporate Personhood

  1. #601
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhisattva View Post
    Nope, it is the individuals within that group that has the right, and their right is the idea to practice any religion they want without fear of persecution.
    That's simply absurd.

    If this were true, the government would be able to ban all churches and other religious groups and organizations in the country. Just ban them. Shut down all the churches and make everyone stay home or meet in someone's basement on Sunday morning. Do you really think the Constitution allows that?

  2. #602
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    The blogosphere has been abuzz on the heels of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United opinion. Hysteric criticisms of the speculative changes to our political landscape aside — including the President’s misstatements in the State of the Union — one of the most common and oft-repeated criticisms is that the Constitution does not protect corporations. Several “reform” groups have even drafted and circulated constitutional amendments to address this concern.

    This line of attack demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of both the nature of corporations and the freedoms protected by the Constitution, which is exemplified by the facile charge that “corporations aren’t human beings.”

    Well of course they aren’t — but that’s constitutionally irrelevant: Corporations aren’t “real people” in the sense that the Constitution’s protection of sexual privacy or prohibition on slavery make no sense in this context, but that doesn’t mean that corporate entities also lack, say, Fourth Amendment rights. Or would the “no rights for corporations” crowd be okay with the police storming their employers’ offices and carting off their (employer-owned) computers for no particular reason? — or to chill criticism of some government policy.

    Or how about Fifth Amendment rights? Can the mayor of New York exercise eminent domain over Rockefeller Center by fiat and without compensation if he decides he’d like to move his office there?

    So corporations have to have some constitutional rights or nobody would form them in the first place. The reason they have these rights isn’t because they’re “legal” persons, however — though much of the doctrine builds on that technical point — but instead because corporations are merely one of the ways in which rights-bearing individuals associate to better engage in a whole host of constitutionally protected activity.

    That is, the Constitution protects these groups of rights-bearing individuals. The proposition that only human beings, standing alone, with no group affiliation whatsoever, are entitled to First Amendment protection — that “real people” lose some of their rights when they join together in groups of two or ten or fifty or 100,000 — is legally baseless and has no grounding in the Constitution. George Mason law professor Ilya Somin, also a Cato adjunct scholar, discusses this point here.

    In any event, as Chief Justice Roberts said in his Citizens United concurrence: “The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.” Justice Scalia makes the same point, explaining that the text of the Constitution “makes no distinction between types of speakers.” The New York Times isn’t “an individual American” but its speech is still protected under the First Amendment (regardless of any exemption for “media corporations” — whatever those are in a world where conglomerates own interests not limited to media, not to mention the advent of blogs and other “new” media).
    When Individuals Form Corporations, They Don’t Lose Their Rights | Cato @ Liberty

  3. #603
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    Well, no, that's not enough - especially since it doesn't really leave any room for interepretation in that regard.
    Why should it? Who says that we should try to interpret the constitution? I believe we have an amendment process if there needs changes but there is nothing in the Constitution nor quotes from the FF on the need to interpret the Constitution.

    It simply says Congress shall make NO law...abridging freedom of speech.
    I've asked you before to tell us where the period is located in the 1st amendment. You decided to ignore that question so I'll ask it again.

    How many "periods" exist in the 1st amendment and where are they located?

    But my question was aimed at Jingo's claim that "we the people" had decided to exclude corporations from having rights. I asked where that was stated anywhere in law.
    Please quote me saying ""we the people" had decided to exclude corporations from having rights."

    No, you're the one reading into it. You're reading an exception to the words "NO LAW."
    You're misusing context of the 1st amendment by reading it as if there was a sentence "Congress shall make no law... abridging freedom of speech." That is NOT how it is written.

    This is false. Corporations have many constitutional rights, as the courts have held for over a century
    .
    That doesn't make it right. The SCOTUS overturned a law that has been on the books for more than 60 years. So obviously your premise is false.

    There is no reason to think the Founding Fathers thought that groups of people, in whatever legal form, would somehow lose their rights because they join together as a group. Just the opposite.
    Who says they lose their right? No one, that's another strawman. People retain their constitutional right when they go to work for a business. Therefore there is no need to give the corporation itself the right to free speech. That would be a right for the owner in addition to the right he already has. He has the right to free speech in or outside of the company. You're saying let him ALSO use company funds as well as his own.
    Last edited by NoJingoLingo; 02-04-10 at 12:56 PM.

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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    The First Amendment doesn't mention people either! Except for the right of the people to peacably assemble. (Presumably forming a group.)
    It seems your main problem with the 1st amendment is a lack of understanding of the semicolon.

    SEMICOLON (noun)
    The noun SEMICOLON has 1 sense:

    1. a punctuation mark (';') used to connect independent clauses; indicates a closer relation than does a period.

    A correct reading of the 1st amendment connects the statements and finishes with a period. Perhaps a class in English would be helpful for you.

    I don't think they would think that the solution to that is simply cutting off the freedom of speech of people or entities we think have too much though.
    Specious argument. Who is having their rights cut off? Entities that are not people. The only free speech a corporation has is if the owner(s) speaks using his mouth or his own money, in that case he is not exercising his corporations speech he is exercising his own. The SCOTUS has decided that he may also use corporate funds. Corproate funds are NOT funds of the owner as this would violate the shield of liability. Therefore, to get around this, the SCOTUS decided that the corporation itself could use corporate funds. How will the corporation do this? It can't, a corporation has no hands to write a check... it has no corporeal existence and is therefore an entity and not a human nor animal nor any organic matter. In fact a corporation has no matter. It is words on a document.

    Think about it though - what if they had no rights? Could the government seize them without compensation? Search their records without a warrant?
    This is a good point. However, do we not have regulations that corporations are subject to and not people? Can we not make corporate law to cover these things along with all the other corporate laws currently in effect? Obviously the answer is yes. So why do we need to grant corporations protections under the Constitution instead of just protecting those things under corporate law? Because corporate interests get little pieces of personhood here and there whenever the court has a conservative, corporatist majority.

    Think about that again. A newspaper has no freedom of the press, only the reporters?
    You are wrong. The idea of the free press is protected. Reporters are nothing but people using the free Press as a vehicle to spread the news. They became businesses because they needed a way to pay for the presses, the ink etc. so they begin charging a fee for the paper and form a corporation to handle dispersment of funds and to protect the owners from lawsuits, protecting their personal funds. That is all a corporation is; a liability shield and a bank account to handle the corporate funds. THe owner of a corporation cannot take company funds for personal use as this violates the liability shield and comingles personal and corporate funds.

    Understanding this leads you to the conclusion that corporations were never intended to be considered anything more than a vehicle to conduct business separate from personal activities.


    Does that make any sense at all? The government could shut down a newspaper, saying the reporters can just write their stories with a pen and paper and make carbon copies? A church has no freedom of religion, so the government could ban the Roman Catholic Church, but as long as catholics can worship at home it's perfectly okay? Really?
    Fallacious argument.

    Legal Stratagies to Revoke the Corporate Charter

    In accordance with the strict legislative control exercised over corporations who sought the privilege of incorporation and following in the path of centuries of English commonlaw (case made law), the states codified (made into written law) the power to revoke the charters of corporations who "misused" or "abused" their charter powers. The English foundation for these statutes can be traced to the theory of quo warranto, which literally means that the state is asking the corporation, "By which grant of right do you exercise the powers you are exercising?" The extensive history of quo warranto theory to revoke charters adds credence to its contemporary use.

    In addition to this common-law theory, the states codified the law, and in most states, granted the power to revoke the corporation's charter for misuse or abuse to the Attorney General of the state. Forty-nine states have adopted quo warranto statutes. Some states offer even stronger protection, allowing for revocation of corporate charters in specific situations, such as when the corporation has engaged in a conspiracy (Washington) or when the corporation has engaged in bid-rigging or anti-trust activities (Pennsylvania).
    You not only have a basic misunderstanding of the Constitution but also of corporate law.

  5. #605
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by NoJingoLingo View Post
    Why should it? Who says that we should try to interpret the constitution?
    Yes, why should 100 years of case law take precedence over what the Constitution actually says?

    The Constitution says the Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.

    Your vaunted 100 years of case law is the court's support of legistion that abridges freedom of speech.

    Clearly, applying the Constitution as written voids the case law, which is what this court just did.
    Last edited by Scarecrow Akhbar; 02-04-10 at 01:54 PM.

  6. #606
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by NoJingoLingo View Post
    It seems your main problem with the 1st amendment is a lack of understanding of the semicolon.

    SEMICOLON (noun)
    The noun SEMICOLON has 1 sense:

    1. a punctuation mark (';') used to connect independent clauses; indicates a closer relation than does a period.

    A correct reading of the 1st amendment connects the statements and finishes with a period. Perhaps a class in English would be helpful for you.
    So no right in the First Amendment exists independent of the others?

    Please stop embarrassing yourself. There's nothing wrong with how I read the First Amendment.

    Specious argument. Who is having their rights cut off? Entities that are not people.
    Yes, exactly. So you think the government could shut down all religious entities and still be respecting freedom of religion, or all newspapers and still be respecting freedom of the press.

    It's absurd, and it's your argument.

    This is a good point. However, do we not have regulations that corporations are subject to and not people? Can we not make corporate law to cover these things along with all the other corporate laws currently in effect? Obviously the answer is yes. So why do we need to grant corporations protections under the Constitution instead of just protecting those things under corporate law? Because corporate interests get little pieces of personhood here and there whenever the court has a conservative, corporatist majority.
    It's not a matter of what we "need to grant." We have no choice. We are not writing the Constitution here, we are following it.

    And you are presuming that corporations will have all the rights that people have, but that's not necessarily true.

    You are wrong. The idea of the free press is protected. Reporters are nothing but people using the free Press as a vehicle to spread the news. They became businesses because they needed a way to pay for the presses, the ink etc.
    Not the "idea" - the newspaper. Please stop playing with words. A newspaper is a business, it - not just the people working there - is protected.

    Understanding this leads you to the conclusion that corporations were never intended to be considered anything more than a vehicle to conduct business separate from personal activities.

    Fallacious argument.
    Not at all.

    You not only have a basic misunderstanding of the Constitution but also of corporate law.
    Without actually posting my resume, I assure you that I have a deep knowledge of both the intricacies of the English language and how to interpret laws and the Constitution. Please stick to the topic.

  7. #607
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by NoJingoLingo View Post
    It seems your main problem with the 1st amendment is a lack of understanding of the semicolon.

    • SEMICOLON (noun)
    The noun SEMICOLON has 1 sense:

    1. a punctuation mark (';') used to connect independent clauses; indicates a closer relation than does a period.

    A correct reading of the 1st amendment connects the statements and finishes with a period. Perhaps a class in English would be helpful for you.
    Here's the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    "Used to connect independent clauses"....you mean like "Congress shall make no law;abridging the freedom of speech".

    Yes, exactly. You see any exemptions on that? If you do, please get your eyes checked.

    What was your point again?

    Oh, yeah.

    Your point was that Congress can make laws abriding freedom of speech.

    You're clearly wrong.

    Just in case you missed it, the FA first says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech....without exception...and then it says the freedom of the press is inviolate. Meaning that not only is speech protected, but the means of publishing speech to a wider audience is also protected. You will want to note that it makes no exception for "advertising" in the "press".
    Last edited by Scarecrow Akhbar; 02-04-10 at 01:59 PM.

  8. #608
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    For those who just can't handle the idea that one can discern meaning without death by punctuation, here is a more visual way to read it:

    Congress shall make no law:

    respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

    or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    James Madison and his buddies might have used bullet points, but they weren't invented yet.

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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    James Madison and his buddies might have used bullet points, but they weren't invented yet.
    Look at the structure of Article I, Section 8.

    The First Amendment is a different style, but same intent, saving the scribe the effort of writing "The Congress shall make no law" a half dozen times in one Amendment.

    Whatever, not relevant.

    The First Amendment clearly protects the right of people who own companies to have that company represent them as a public mouthpiece.

  10. #610
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    Look at the structure of Article I, Section 8.

    The First Amendment is a different style, but same intent, saving the scribe the effort of writing "The Congress shall make no law" a half dozen times in one Amendment.

    Whatever, not relevant.

    The First Amendment clearly protects the right of people who own companies to have that company represent them as a public mouthpiece.
    I should have made it more clear - i was agreeing with you completely. Or maybe you're still agreeing with me.

    In any event, we agree.

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