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Corporate Personhood to be Challenged in Supreme Court

From a blog post at Mark Crispin Miller's site:

“The notion that corporations have the same speech rights as people under our Bill of Rights is contrary to the words, history, spirit and intent of our Constitution,” said Clements. “The organizations that joined to bring these arguments to the Court have worked with others for many years to empower democratic self-government. They remind us that corporations do not vote, speak, or act as people do, but are products of government policy to achieve economic and charitable ends. As such, corporations need not be allowed to influence our elections if Congress and State governments judge that such influence is detrimental to democracy.”


The brief filed by Democracy Unlimited argues that corporations are legal entities created by state or federal law for economic, charitable or other purposes, and were never intended to be included within the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The Supreme Court will hear further argument in the case in September.

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Per our founding fathers


this is the the list of whom "regulates" whom and whom is subordinate to whom.

corporatiosn are supose to be short run, limited affairs that are created for one purpose sort of like a single project contract, they have been grossly preverted and have too much legal protection, reform is needed here, and it needs to come in the form of LESS protection.

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

Does anyone here support government regulating


Let's get straight to the issue. That's the stated reason for this legal action, is to make "democratically enacted regulation of corporations" legal. (Otherwise known as socialism)

Is that what people here who support this legal action are in favor of? Are you standing with "Democracy Unlimited" who filed the brief?

Yes they have to because corporations enjoy a privilege that

other forms of business do not.

If you are not operating a corporation, then the common law puts you on a level playing field with everyone else and you are treated as an individual. You are free to pool resources, and get together with others and conduct business, but you are all treated equally as individuals.

However, if you form a corporation, you suddenly are no longer responsible for the actions taken "in the name of the corporation" even if it is you personally doing the actions. Others who invest in your business do not need to care what it is you do so long as you make them a profit. If the business causes harm to someone, neither you nor your investors are likely to face jail time. Because it was the fictional "corporation" that committed the act. And since it is fictional it has no body to place in jail.

Therefore it is very important that regulations be written to try to assign some responsibility for injuries and trespass to real live human beings involved with said corporation. However, this has been proven to be insufficient and cannot cover all manner of ways in which a corporation might cause harm to employees, customers, or the general public. Thus preventative regulations are necessary to hopefully reduce such undesired and harmful incidents. (OSHA would be such an example) Likewise, since people earning profit through this limited liability are enjoying a privilege that does not exist in the common law and can only be obtained through government sanction, and since despite the regulations harm still occurs with little or no risk to investors, then it is only proper that an excise be laid on the enjoyment of this privilege to help pay for government functions to oversee and regulate such corporations, to prosecute their crimes, and to defend their interests and properties overseas. (this is what we know as the INCOME tax)

I do not however agree with government regulation of businesses in the generic sense. I am for a laissez faire free market. But because of that, I also don't believe corporations should be chartered at all.

I hope the court will decide that the individuals in that film company were still protected in their individual exercise of their right of free speech and thus Democracy Unlimited or whomever is against the film company should lose its case.

But the film company should not be recognized as a singular person with free speech rights of its own. Not at all.

Of course, all of this begs the question. If the individuals involved in the movie could have formed a partnership instead, and retained and rested on their individual rights, why didn't they?

I would contend that it was because they wanted legal protection for any harm caused by their speech. They wanted to hide behind the corporate veil. And I do not agree that they should be able to do so.

Your OSHA example

OSHA is a Ralph Nader concept, like the EPA, which he thought of as competitive non-profits, not arms of the government, and why he has sued the government more than anyone I know.

Seal of Goodhousekeeping is not Uncle Sam.. so we should have a competitive market for consumer issues.. not just legal and insurance.

I see that sustainable development has this in mind, in that they want everything they make to be able to trace to the source.. Wal-Mart, the largest jeweler in the world, is doing this now with a line of jewelry.

But OSHA, like the EPA were born out of the need to correct for

the vacuum left by corporations not being liable. That is my point. And they are now government agencies.

I think that source tracing is hand in hand with RFID tagging. It makes sense with the push to switch from pallets to item-level as well as the NAIS.

I believe regulations should be privatized, not government

I believe the consumer has rights that can be protected better with comercial enterprize. There's no need for an FDA or DEA, or on and on, when those can be private enterprize, competitive private jobs. Government's role is more like a referee when contracts go bad.

Corporations are collectives and it's time to end them. They are sociaist, "team playing", personally controlling.. too much power.

Socialists want to control corporations, I want to elimiante corporations.. medical marijuana industry is doing fine without them. $14 billion a year. Over 800 cannabis shops in LA alone.

GET CORPORATIONS OUT OF ELECTIONS! It's how we have the NO choice and the same crooks election after election.

Thank You For Smoking http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HC3xwlfcFM&feature=rec-HM-fr...

Here ! Here!

Well said.

I dont know anything about

I dont know anything about this case really, but my two cents after reading the comments here is that it is harmless to consider a corporation a person, as long as there is no limited liability unless expressly laid out in a contract with an individual or business. Someone gave the Exxon Valdez example. That is an example where there was no limited liability laid out by contract, so they should have been more severely punished in the courts.

It sounds like socialists bash corporate person-hood by using limited-liability examples, similar to how gay marriage advocates advocate for gay marriage by exhibiting travesties that have nothing to do with a state grant of marriage. Of course, the real goals are the opening up of businesses to control by the state, and a social endorsement by force of gay marriage. They might be part of the problem, but they do not constitute the whole issue. We can address these problems individually, by ending state grants of limited liability for employees of corporations, or allowing partners to be with each other in the hospital at the legal level.

Whether a group can have rights is besides the point: we know that we want a free market, so we should keep governments from overly interfering with businesses. It sounds like under the guise of doing that, the government has propped up the corporations by "protecting" them from the people with a grant of limited liability. A better way is to keep the government from messing with business altogether by limiting its scope and bypassing the issue, rather than addressing the issue through legislation.

I'm a newbie to this topic, so I might be off.

Ventura 2012

The consideration of a corporation as a person is a huge part of

the problem and I might suggest the crux of it. It takes a collective and tries to equate it with real people. Then it gets rights like real people do, but because it has more resources, it is in essence "more equal" than real people.

The end result is what you see now. (at least as far as we can say this is the "end" which it isn't - more decadence I'm sure will be invented)

Groups having or not having rights is not besides the point. It is the point. Groups can't be made into distinct entities with rights. That means they aren't on the level playing field with real people, and the you don't have a free market. The common law does not contemplate or address or recognize imaginary constructs. It only applies to real people. So if you try to keep corporations or other groups as distinct entities with rights, that takes special law and government action to do so - no more free market.

You are correct though. All we need to do is stop chartering corporations and repeal all corporate laws protecting them. This is getting government out of the way. The common law will take care of the rest.

ok, but which right do they

ok, but which right do they get that is so dangerous besides limited liability?

Thank you for your response, by the way.

Ventura 2012

No problem.

Any right they have is dangerous. A corporation isn't a real person. Look way down below this thread for my explanation on why corporations don't (shouldn't) have rights.

If we consider legal fictions on a par with real people, then in reality they are above real people. Real people do not have the resources of a corporation to influence government or be able to act with impunity and simply pay the fines incurred. Corporations on the other hand, can't be put in jail. The owners of a corporation are generally immune from liability for acts done by the corporation to generate them profits. A real man, with his own business, or even if he is in a partnership, is personally liable for any damages cause by his business. Most of the problems we see today are a direct result of a corporation doing something where there was no liability as a natural check on its actions. (or government mucking things up further in a lame attempt to correct that situation)

I hope that is what you were asking for, if not let me know and word it a little differently and I'll try again.

Well, I am just going down

Well, I am just going down the list here:

Right to life: We all agree that the governement shouldnt be able to shut down corporations for no good reason, just like you cant kill people without good justification(hypothetically)

Right to property: Fine

Free Speech: Not a problem, besides fraudulent advertising, but that is illegal for anyone.

Right to vote: They dont have this, and would not have any political influence if only we could LIMIT our government so that it could not dole out so many benefits.

Right to sue: Sounds fine

Due process: Goes along with property rights, no problem here.

So I think that we agree that unless explicitly stated, a corporation should NOT have limited liability. I just fail to see the harm in the strange legal categorization of a corporation as a person.

Ventura 2012

Democracy Unlimited

There's not much info on the net about Democracy Unlimited. I found a very amateurish web site where they seem to be proposing direct democracy - everyone votes on everything. Three of their employees (which I suspect might be all of them) contributed to Cynthia McKinney

Ĵīɣȩ Ɖåđşŏń

"Fully half the quotations found on the internet are either mis-attributed, or outright fabrications." - Abraham Lincoln

Socialist nonsense. I'm sure "Democracy Unlimited"

who filed the brief is a socialist group.

This is meant to open the door for the Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality, and whole host of other regulations of corporations for the "public good" and "democracy."

The only socialist nonsense here is coming from you

How is limiting the protections of 'rights' intended for individuals to individuals socialist? How is extending the protections of 'rights' intended for individuals to groups themself and not limiting them to the individuals in the group not socialist?

Your skills are weak. Very weak.

Tell me something. Is it a book you're working on or simply a research paper? Debate prep? I'm not buying that you're as dumb as you're trying to come off here.

Socialists are for

"democratic" (government) control over corporations for the public good. That's how it's socialist. Read the article and the brief. This "Democracy Unlimited" group wants corporations stripped of rights so that they can control them for the good of all.

If you eliminate corporate personhood protection, then they're open to takeover by the socialists.

Where did I say I support democracy?

You really need to learn to pay attention to what is said. Where have I ever said I support democracy?

Nice dodge on my questions by the way. I heard the breeze as you ducked not only one, but two pointed questions in a row. Then you really pulled out all the stops and completely ignored my third one too. Highly uncharacteristic of you so far here at the DP.

In the spirit of friendly debate, why don't you go back above, reread my post, and answer the questions I asked. It'll be fun, I promise. And in return, I'll answer your questions on this topic.

**nice edit job on your post! Boy you're quick. Do they teach that in spin class?

If you don't allow

a group to have protection from the government, then that group will be controlled by the government. That's state socialism. It's pretty simple.

If you're for not allowing corporations to have protection by the First Amendment, then you are allowing government to regulate their speech in the name of the public good or for any other state purpose.

protection for groups IS socialism

It is collectivist thinking. It exalts and defends the collective over the individual.

No it's not.

Socialism is community/state control over the means of production.

Protecting a family from community/state control is not socialism.

And protecting a family from the government does not "exalt and defend the collective over the individual." It defends them from the government collective EQUALLY with the individual.

A family is not a collective entity on its own it is merely a

grouping or association used as a shorthand reference. It is not even close to a corporation.

The state should not protect "families" per se, but individuals and their right to freely associate as individuals into families or whatever other ways they see fit.

Socialism promotes the 'rights' of the group over the individual

And you're pressing hard for confirmation of your mistaken belief that a group ought to enjoy the protections afforded to an individual.


It promotes the rights

of the WHOLE society over the individual. That's socialism. The term "social" in socialism refers to society. It doesn't refer to a group smaller than the whole society.

Protecting a family from the government is not socialism. Nor is protecting a business from the government socialism.

And yes, groups, such as a family should enjoy the protections afforded to an individual. Groups are comprised of individuals, therefore government should leave them alone.

By the way, do you support the Fairness Doctrine? Government making sure that Fox, CNN, etc, are not biased?

groups should not be targeted but not because they are groups

but because individuals have the right to freely associate and assemble into them. It is not a group that is protected but the right to associate and assemble that is protected. And this is the right of individuals, not of any collective.

The group itself has no rights and enjoys no protection. The individuals and their rights to associate and assemble DO.

What you say is not strictly socialist in so far as we are talking about general groups. Where you speak of corporations, there you are spouting socialism.

I'll stand corrected on this count. Socialism does imply the entirety of a society. But how you define that society is shifty and can include a subset. I doubt the Serbians would have included all of Yugoslavia in their definition of their society. Hence why we saw a war there.

What you speak of however otherwise is a form of collectivist thought. It is decidedly NOT individualist. It is the antithesis of it. You argue for group rights, not individual rights. Your presumptions and arguments would support socialism, fascism and full communism. That is because they seek to personify an imaginary construct "the group" and imbue it with life and rights and protections. Yet it deserves none of these, because it is not an "it" but rather a "they" and is not distinct from the constituent members. A group needs no rights or protections of its own because the individuals in it already have rights and protections. They do not lose those rights or protections because you classify and assign them to a group, or because they freely associate or assemble into one.

Why do you keep refusing to address this?

"By the way, do you support

"By the way, do you support the Fairness Doctrine? Government making sure that Fox, CNN, etc, are not biased?"

I have been reading your posts on this issue and have come down more or less on your side, but you are not helping your cause by knowingly creating this straw man. The subject at hand is corporate person hood, not the individual details or scope of the case. Maybe that was the subject earlier, but it no longer is. You probably have noticed that if you are lucky, people who respond to posts on the DP MIGHT read your actual post. They will never read a hyperlinked article, and usually just read the topic heading. I am as guilty of this as anyone. Just a tip.

Ventura 2012


Or is that another duck? Why won't you answer the two simple questions I posted above? Could it be that the honest answers to them destroy your argument? Aww... how sad.

Your questions

were responses that weren't relevant to my argument.

I'm saying what is socialist is allowing government to control corporations. That's what happens if you don't have a Constitution that protects groups of individuals (corporations) from the government.

Are you in favor of the Fairness Doctrine?

I nearly spit out my coffee! Thanks for more laughs! LoL!!!

You state that my questions above...

How is limiting the protections of 'rights' intended for individuals to individuals socialist? How is extending the protections of 'rights' intended for individuals to groups themself and not limiting them to the individuals in the group not socialist?

aren't relevant to your argument? And then you further state that if the constitution doesn't protect a particular type of collective then that's socialist?


Keep posting! Damn that was funny!

Be sure to

to wipe your chin.

Still dodging those questions, huh?

I can't say I blame you. If I were attempting to support the argument you are I'd want to avoid those nastly little inconsistencies as well.

Darned facts. They always get in the way...