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  • Corporate Personhood and 14th Amendment Rights

    by Thomas Storck

    corp
    This article originally appeared on Ethika Politika

    One of the demands made by the Occupy Wall Street movement has been the ending of the legal fiction of personhood for business corporations.  This desire on the part of the Occupy movement is healthy, but the issue is actually more complicated than might at first appear. For corporate personhood and corporate rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution are two different things, and the first does not necessarily imply the second.

    First let us look at the text of the relevant section of the Fourteenth Amendment:

    Section 1.  All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.  No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    This amendment was ratified in the summer of 1868, the second of three amendments enacted after the Civil War to free the slaves and secure their rights as citizens.  The reference to “persons born or naturalized” would be, one hopes, clear enough so that no one could ever have imagined that the text refers to anything except natural persons.  After all, corporate bodies are neither born nor do they achieve citizenship by naturalization. But this was not what occurred.

    In the period during and after the Civil War corporations were beginning their successful attempts to influence state legislatures to grant them privileges unknown to ante bellum corporations.  These included the right of a corporation to own stock in other corporations, thus allowing the creation of holding companies, and the passage of general incorporation laws.  In the ante bellum era corporations were generally chartered by state legislatures for specific purposes, for example, to operate a steamship or a bridge, for a certain number of years, and usually with other restrictions as well.  Of course, in some cases, this grant of state authority was tantamount to a temporary grant of monopoly rights.  General incorporation laws, which gradually came into existence in the second half of the 19th century, allowed corporations much more flexibility than they previously had.  In such a climate of opinion, it was not surprising that corporations, especially the then powerful railroads, would use their political influence to obtain the ultimate prize, corporate personhood rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

    The odd thing is that the U.S. Supreme Court never really gave such a grant of personhood in any of its decisions.  Rather, the statement that the Court considered corporations as persons under the Fourteenth Amendment was inserted into the headnote, or prefatory material, of an 1886 case by the man responsible for compiling and printing the Court’s decisions, Bancroft Davis, the court reporter.  In the case of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394), Davis, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice, inserted the following into the headnote:

    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 of opinion that it does.

    Although nearly twenty years later the Supreme Court formally stated that headnotes do not have any legal force, by then it was too late.  The “ruling” in Santa Clara had already been cited more than once and had acquired the status of a precedent.  So in this extraordinary and clearly extralegal manner corporations in the United States acquired the personhood and, one by one, the rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment solely to “persons born or naturalized in the United States.”[1]

    What is even more outrageous is that those justices and judges, such as Antonin Scalia, who make much of their commitment to “originalism,” i.e., to interpreting the Constitution as it was understood by those who wrote it, seem to have no difficulty in acquiescing in the hijacking of the Fourteenth Amendment by corporations and their legal lackeys.  This would seem to call into question the honesty of their “originalism.”

    Although it is ludicrous to grant corporations the rights of natural persons under the Fourteenth Amendment, one can make a distinction between the mere notion of corporate personhood or personality and the absurd notion that corporations are entitled to the rights of natural persons. The former is not necessarily wrong, so long as the crucial distinction between natural and artificial persons is maintained.  There are many sorts of corporations, including universities and colleges, other non-profits of all kinds, as well as the ubiquitous business corporation. The legal fiction of treating corporate bodies as persons is a great social convenience, so long as it is remembered that they are not natural persons. For if corporate personhood did not exist, how would one interact legally with a corporate body?  If one were to sue a university or college, would it be necessary to sue each and every member of the board of trustees, or perhaps each and every administrator and faculty member?  Or could a corporate body engage in legal action without involving each and every member or employee or participant?  Corporate personhood is a convenient method of organizing legal and social life, and for this reason has been around at least since ancient Rome, where it was explicitly recognized in the law.  But any sensible person will realize that although corporate personality is a useful tool, corporations are not natural persons and all their legal rights derive from legislative enactment.  In fact, strictly speaking, they are not rights at all, simply legal conveniences granted by a governing authority.  The following sums up the traditional view of the legal status of corporations:

    As the corporation is in all respects an artificial person, not only is its possession of a distinct legal capacity derived from the state, but the extent to which that capacity may be legitimately exercised is determined by the same authority.  It is therefore improper to extend to the corporations all the principles regarding personality which apply to natural persons.[2]

    Thus to hold that corporations have free-speech rights, or the right to participate in the political process, as if they were natural persons is an abuse of the legal and social convenience which allows a corporate group to be regarded as a single person.

    It is true of course that men have a natural right of association.  Speaking of labor unions, Pope Leo XIII noted that if the state “forbids its citizens to form associations, it contradicts the very principle of its own existence…” (Rerum Novarum, no. 51.).  As I said above, there are many different kinds of corporate bodies, and although the state grants them corporate personality and defines their rights and duties, the law ought to distinguish among them as to which derive their fundamental character from “the natural propensity of man to live in society” (ibid.) and which are merely social conveniences and therefore have their entire “legal capacity derived from the state.”

    Some might object that these suggestions are against private property rights, but such an objection is certainly not based on the Catholic understanding of property rights.  Nor does it even seem congruent with the classical liberal idea of absolute property rights either, since logically these would apply only to natural persons.  In fact, it is hard to imagine any reasoned case for why corporations deserve Fourteenth Amendment rights.  In any event, in the case of Catholic teaching, Pope Pius XI taught the following in his 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno:

    It follows from the twofold character of ownership, which we have termed individual and social, that men must take into account in this matter not only their own advantage but also the common good.  To define in detail these duties, when the need occurs and when the natural law does not do so, is the function of the government.  Provided that the natural and divine law be observed, the public authority, in view of the common good, may specify more accurately what is licit and what is illicit for property owners in the use of their possessions….

    However, when civil authority adjusts ownership to meet the needs of the public good it acts not as an enemy, but as the friend of private owners; for thus it effectively prevents the possession of private property, intended by Nature’s Author in His Wisdom for the sustaining of human life, from creating intolerable burdens and so rushing to its own destruction.  It does not therefore abolish but protects private ownership, and far from weakening the right of private property, it gives it new strength (no. 49).

    We should note, moreover, that Pope Pius is speaking here of the property rights of individuals.  So although in the case of a corporation, it is certainly true that the individual incorporators or shareholders do have rights not to have their property seized arbitrarily, this hardly translates into rights of the corporation as such, especially to freedom of speech or freedom to participate in the political process.  The individual stockholders already have those personal and political rights, and if they choose to exercise them on behalf of their financial interests, this is undoubtedly their right under the Constitution.  But it does not follow that the corporate body itself has any such right.  The corporation exists as a mere creature of the law and any of its so-called rights are in fact privileges bestowed upon it by the legislature for the sake of the public good.

    Although in these times when the power of corporate finance seems well-nigh omnipotent, there is little prospect of the Supreme Court’s changing direction and repudiating the power grab made in 1886, still it helps to inform public opinion on these questions.  If enough people realize how monstrous is the policy of equating fictitious corporate “persons” with real people, then perhaps gradually public opinion will force a change in the Supreme Court’s attitude of the kind we have seen before.  After all, there used to be an adage, the Supreme Court follows the election returns.

    _____________________________________________________________

    [1].  This account is taken from Ted Nace, Gangs of America: the Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, San Francisco, 2003, which provides a handy overview of the rise and consolidation of corporate power.
    [2].  William C. Morey, Outlines of Roman Law, 2d ed., New York, 1914, p. 264.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      One recalls the famous declaration of the French Revolutionary Assembly of 18 August 1792, “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country.”

      As the great English legal historian, F W Maitland suggests It was a declaration of war on the mediaeval view of the body politic as communitas communitatum, a system of groups, each of which in its turn is a system of groups.  All that stands between the State and the individual has but a derivative and precarious existence. 

      Maitland also raises the question of groups and associations as “an ultimate and unanalysable moral unit.”  If I buy the bonds of a country, Nusquamia, who owes me the money?  No one imagines that each citizen owes a fraction of the debt and “nor, I think, shall we get much good out of the word “collectively,” which is the smudgiest word in the English language, for the largest “collection” of zeros is only zero.”  We cannot replace the proposition “Nusquamia owes me the money” with “these (natural) persons owe me the money.”  We do, in fact, think of clubs and societies and other associations as rights-and-duty-bearing units, whether the state recognises their “group personality” or not.  Thus lawyers of the Civil Law tradition speak, not of “artificial persons,” but of “moral persons.”

      • msmischief

        The Assembly loved the notion of citizens as isolated, atomic units.  Much harder for them to act against the government if they are divided.

    • Mouse

      I can never read about this topic without having the following thought:  In the United States at present, business corporations are considered persons, but human beings in their mother’s wombs are not. Makes no sense, but it shows where our priorities are. Maybe a little “off topic” but even so, this is what always comes to my mind.

      Aside from that, I think the idea of personhood for corporations is bunk, and I say that as a very traditional not-too-sympathetic with the Occupiers Catholic!!

      • givelifeachance2

        Spot on. Perhaps there needs to be some type of rights to bestow on solidarist associations, but calling them *persons* is an insult to the human beings who have been waiting in line for that title. Inalienable rights belong to human beings, ie persons, not corporations.

    • Rational Catholic

      The (lack of) rationality and logic in your argument  was irrevocably damaged and its absurdity revealed with “desire on the part of the Occupy movement is healthy”

      • Carl

        I agree, the Occupy movement as I see it not only wants to remove “personhood” from corporations they want to abolish personhood all together. No personhood no property rights.

        A socialistic-redistributive-utopia!

        When personhood is abolished anything is permissible. The unborn and elderly have already lost personhood through abortion and euthanasia.

        We are in danger of repeating the horrors of the 19th century and the all powerful state! Workers paradise! Why are people so blind?

        • Carl

          No personhood – no gender – destruction of the nuclear family. The state becomes the alpha and the omega. The only person and everyone serves the state.

      • ChrisPineo

         Yes, and we know this because ad hominem attack should always be considered valid before logical validity is considered valid. Occupy people are XYZ pejoratives, therefore they can never be right, nor can anyone who sees validity in any of their thinking. Indeed if an Occupier were ever to say that the sky is above us, it would immediately change position to beneath us, such is the innate wrongness of all people and groups that we do not like.

    • scotch_meg

      Corporate “persons” also serve to protect the interests of groups of associated individuals.  How would we as individual Catholics fight the HHS mandate?  How would the Church (rather than individuals) be able to hold property?  How would it run hospitals, schools, and universities?  Business corporations are not the only corporations that exist and have rights under our law.

      • Cord_Hamrick

         You have hit it squarely, Scotch_Meg.

        It is one thing to say that a church, or a civic organization, or a union, is “not a real person.” It is another thing to deprive it of all of the rights that accrue to such organizations (freedom of speech, property ownership, et cetera) under the current system of precedents.

        (But I have already said more about this in my other comment.)

    • Ricdykstra1

      Corporations are NOT PEOPLE!  People are People!  The Supreme Court opened the floodgates to an ocean of Government CORRUPTION with this ruling!  Lobbiest have BOUGHT the Congress and Congress votes as the Lobiests dictate-not as the people want!  Our Congress has the best Health Care Insurance and big, fat bank accounts-while half the population of our Country has sank at or below the Poverty Line!  The Republicans wouldn’t think of offending the owners of the Lobbiests.  Basically they are a DEAD political Party-unable to vote or compromise on any issue!  They are destroying their own Country, rather than help Obama!

      • Cord_Hamrick

        Respectfully, your exclamation marks are not arguments.

        Please, I ask you to think more deeply and analytically about this topic. There are things you are not considering, here.

        (Not least the fact that the Goldman Sachs Adm…oh, excuse me, I meant, the Obama Administration, is every bit as “corporatized” as the Republicans. It is a wonder to me why the Occupy Wall Street crowd bothers staying on Wall Street, when a solid majority of Wall Street’s money and influence, and several of its former executives, went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last few years. Why not occupy the White House lawn? It’s more comfortable!)

    • Matt Landry

      The trouble is that your actions contradict your words. If corporations have no right to speak or participate in politics, then the only means by which you should be permitted to communicate this political message to us is either verbally or in writing, delivered personally and face-to-face, and only one of us at a time. After all, the web sites on which it is distributed don’t belong personally and exclusively to you, nor do our means of connecting to them to read belong personally and exclusively to us. (A judicious combination of “traceroute” and “whois” tell me that as I type this, there are approximately 8 corporations standing between my computer and the one on which this web page resides, any one of whose absence of rights deprives you of the authority to communicate with me by writing on this web site.)

      Are you really arguing, as Catholic teaching, that our bishops ought to lack the legal right to speak on public issues in their official capacity as bishops? (The Catholic Church is, after all, a corporate entity, rather than a natural person.) You probably think that you are not, and yet you are.

      The law is not about the “rights” of corporations. It is about the rights of natural humans to _use_ corporate forms in order to more effectively organize and assert themselves.

    • Cord_Hamrick

      Let’s keep it simple:

      Human beings voluntarily band together into groups, thus exercising Solidarity.

      Corporations are one such group. They are an exercise of (real) persons’ Solidarity.

      We could alter American law, including the Constitution if needed, to clarify that Corporations are not real persons but legal fictions — as if any sensible person required assurance on this point. That would be fine, provided that other language was added to the law to ensure that the rights and privileges and immunities of real persons acting in Solidarity through Corporations were not much altered by the change.

      But it would be a damned foolish thing to do — foolish, and of a character sufficient to risk damnation to the persons who did it — to simply revoke the currently-existing legal fiction of Corporate personhood without providing that largely identical protections were accorded through other means.

      Consider one example: Let us say that real persons were accorded freedom of speech, but that corporations like EWTN were not, and that this distinction were construed in such a way as to allow real persons like Marcus Grodi of the program “The Journey Home” to tell stories of conversion in a personal setting, or even to broadcast them using his own personal money should he choose to do so, but to forbid EWTN as a corporation from doing so.

      Oops. Marcus Grodi and Mother Angelica and the rest are great people, but how far d’ya think they’d get if the only way to do anything was as individuals acting alone?

      Consider: In what sense are all the churches and non-profit corporations, or if not “corporations” then “legal-fiction persons?”

      Hmmm.

      You can imagine the mischief this would cause: “If you are an individual, you have rights; but if you are more than one individual banding together in a fashion that involves some kind of shared ownership and/or employment, you don’t, and we can shut you up as we please.”

      The disempowering of this particular kind of Solidarity would leave the government as the sole remaining locus of power in society…and that’s a kind of imbalance we definitely don’t want.

      Or, here is a different scenario: “So long as you personally own all the factories required by your business, the government can’t nationalize them on a whim. But sell shares of ownership to others in order to capitalize a factory expansion, and the moment the factories are complete, the government may transfer ownership to whomever they wish by legislative fiat, because while you have property rights, a corporation doesn’t.”

      (Wonder what might happen to certain church buildings under that scenario? Considering how their ownership and maintenance is often structured, and the kind of real estate they sometimes occupy?)

      Enough said.

      So, while it offends the English language and good common sense to call IBM, or EWTN, or The Second Pentecostal Holiness Church of Madison, Wisconsin “persons”; nevertheless, this currently embodies a good deal of protection for the dignity of real human persons when they opt to act in concert.

      Best to avoid damaging that. If you “depersonalize” Corporations, make certain that those protections remain in place.

      And this, of course, is the why the hard-left backers of the Occupy movement have steered their jobless dupes towards this particular cause. Those nice folks at InternationalSocialism.org, whose signs show up among the Occupiers so regularly, don’t like it when there are any well-funded alternative loci of power in a country; they prefer it when the government is the only organization with structure and possessions and money.

      That, ultimately, is what is behind the emergence of this rather abstract, legalistic, and seemingly random crusade against corporate personhood from the otherwise feckless and fuddleheaded ranks of the Occupiers.

      (You didn’t think that they thought this up, in between bong hits, did you? All these refugees from a bad Jethro Tull song, loitering on park benches and eying little girls with bad intent? Belatedly sprouting a grassroots movement to…overturn certain jurisprudential precedents regarding the legal status of corporations? Please. Astro Turf: It’s not just for stadiums any more.)

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        “What would happen to certain church buildings?” you ask

        Read the Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des Eglises et de l’Etat. [The Law of 9 December 1905, concerning the separation of Church and State]  and it will give you a pretty good idea.  That law simply declared all existing places of worship to be the property of the Nation.  As they had no individual owners, there was no question of compensation for, in the eyes of the Assembly, only individuals have rights.

        • Cord_Hamrick

          Yes, that’s a serious concern.

          Henry VIII wasn’t the first; he won’t be the last.

          The saints are so very distinctive, so very individual in the way they love God. No two are quite alike; they are human snowflakes.

          But there’s that dull banal sameness about how the Devil attacks the Church. Every new heresy is an old one repackaged; every new tyranny is an old one reanimated by some bureaucratic necromancy. Every personality cult or dictator seems to boast the same silly uniforms and posters and statues; and every worldly self-anointed messiah likes to confiscate the church buildings and the chalice from the altar.

          The saints “sing a new song” while the nations rage, but for the nations that rise up against the King, there is “nothing new under the sun.”

          Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss.

      • http://www.austrolibertariancatholic.wordpress.com/ Martial Artist

        Cord, Here is where we part company, methinks: “a bad Jethtro Tull song.”  I have yet to find a “bad Jethro Tull song,” although some Jethro Tull songs are about bad people, at least people whose choices and actions are bad (for them or for others).
        :-)

        Pax et bonum,
        Keith Töpfer

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      It was the German Pandektists of the 19th century that most vigorously insisted on the reality of “group personality.”  Of course, they do not have a physical existence, independent of the individuals that compose them, but groups as various as a university, a regiment, a trade union or a political party really do have an ethos that pervades the natures of its members and expresses itself in their actions.

      In so far as a group acts as such in society, the law is only recognising reality in regarding the group as a right-and-duty-bearing unit, especially where its existence is extended over a considerable time, so that those who compose it are a fluctuating body.

      Despite the rather intimidating Hegelian language the Pandektists used, I believe they were on to something.  Even judges have sometimes been betrayed into speaking of “unincorporated bodies,” which is a bit like talking about “inanimate souls.”

    • Thomas Storck

      Long before the Supreme Court applied the 14th Amendment to corporations – and note that it was for-profit business corporations that were largely in question here – the bishops exercised their rights of speech, as did the Protestant clergy.  The ability of the Church to preach the Faith does not depend upon treating corporations as persons according to the 14th Amendment.  I find it ironic that many who would probably describe themselves as conservatives openly support an innovation with no basis in law or tradition.  It appears that some think that if the 14th Amendment is no longer applied to corporations then all their rights will vanish.  Part of the article’s point was to show that this need not be the case.  It is possible to have a rational basis for corporate personhood, without confusing the rights of natural persons and corporate persons.

      • Matt Landry

        But the entire point of rejecting corporate personhood is to give the state the power to forcibly silence those entities with which it disagrees. Given the present state of affairs there is _absolutely no way_ that rejection of the legal personhood of corporate entities could work out other than to the grave detriment of the Church, the faith, the faithful, and the ongoing fight against the culture of death.

        “Oh, you don’t like the new burdens imposed on you by the HHS mandate? Well, now that you’re no longer legally persons, you can just sit down, shut up, and start paying for our free sterilizations and abortions! After all, only _persons_ have rights and can be party to lawsuits…”

        We’re _not_ talking about only for-profit businesses here. For those who apparently don’t remember it, this whole conversation about corporate personhood started with the “Citizens United” case, which concerned a _non-profit_ corporation organized for the specific purpose of bringing together the resources of like-minded individuals in a political contest. Whether one agrees with the message Citizens United wanted to push or not (it happens I don’t), an attack against their right to speak is an attack against _any_ collective group’s right to speak. If we lose that, all we have left is the hope that our message will find favor with those in power. Yeah, good luck with that.

        The objective is not to protect the rights of natural persons. The notion that this could be the real objective in a society that routinely and cavalierly slaughters innocent human individuals by the millions is ludicrous. The objective is to selectively deprive disapproved groups (that would most definitely include orthodox Catholics!) of all access to the political process.

        • Thomas Storck

          Matt Landry wrote, ” For those who apparently don’t remember it, this whole conversation about corporate personhood started with the “Citizens United” case, which concerned a _non-profit_ corporation organized for the specific purpose of bringing together the resources of like-minded individuals in a political contest.”

          Well, no, it started in the 19th century.  Citizens United is simply the latest in a line of cases, not to mention discussion outside of the courts.

          Do you suggest that if the 14th amendment hadn’t been hijacked to grant corporations rights intended for natural persons that all these years the Church would have been silenced?  Do you think that the 14th amendment was originally intended to cover corporations?  If not, do you support reinterpreting the Constitution to advance someone’s political goals despite what the text says?

          There is nothing to prevent individuals from speaking out in any case.  But I’ll say it once more, it is possible to have a rational sort of recognition of corporate personhood without confusing natural persons with corporations, and in treating of corporations one could rationally differentiate between various types of corporations as to what rights are recognized.

          • Matt Landry

            I suggest that it is fundamentally both illogical and immoral to declare that citizens must have fewer rights when we organize into voluntary association with one another, whether to agitate for political and social causes or to provide goods and services of value to the public, than we do when we act as individuals.

            The 14th Amendment has not been applied willy-nilly to corporate entities. If it had, they’d be able to vote. Not to mention that — once they were fully formed according to law — it would be illegal to intentionally cause one to cease to exist. Ending the existence of a corporation involves sending some paperwork to the Secretary of State and paying off some taxes, while ending the existence of a legally human person involves a criminal trial for homicide.

            Corporations are _made of people_. They _do not exist_ independently of their owners and employees. The “rights” attributed to them by law are merely the rights of the people who comprise them, expressed collectively as a group.

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    • http://twitter.com/LaylaChloesNana LaylaChloesNana


      The odd thing is that the U.S. Supreme Court never really gave such a grant of personhood in any of its decisions.” What about “A private corporation is included under the designation of “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, section I.” [http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/125/181/case.html] Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania in 1888?

    • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

      In such a climate of opinion, it was not surprising that corporations..
      HV9910

    • Robert

      The republican party seems to have become largely a corporate party and Romney’s philosophy was entirely the business philosophy. He made no mention of social issues or social decline and decay and the people did not care. The Democrat party is a socialist party and entirely anti religious and pro social decline and decay. Either way the social conservative loses.

    • Proteios

      In the mass medias desperate attempt to box in the ows activists and have them commit to an agenda, they have made something from nothing. These are people who initially were pissed off about government rewarding a consequence free lifestyle that was so enjoyed by bankers and others who were given bonuses after bankrupting predominantly middle class people. The formation of ‘core values ‘ of the group after that was to simplify the argument for those simpletons in the media and their loyal readers ho want an easy way to think about it without having to confront what we all know. This was fundamentally wrong. Criminal, in fact. And rather then being punished. These criminals were given bonuses. Al the while those me tax dollars would never be handed down to hard working Americans. This isn’t complicated nor does it fit nicely in a box, but we all know whet happened was wrong. The solution was more wrong.

    • Gilbert Albans

      “Nor does it even seem congruent with the classical liberal idea of
      absolute property rights either, since logically these would apply only
      to natural persons.”

      Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble and Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It is “Natural Persons” that are “the people” who peaceably assemble, and each have property rights as “Natural Persons”. They pool their property together and have them collectively protected. To take all of the collective property would be to take all of the private property of “natural persons”. But not taking all the private property of “natural person” would not take all the private property of the other “natural persons”. Like wise if you were to abridge the collective property, it would in turn abridge a “natural persons” right to speech.

    • William Locke

      Let’s assume corporate personhood was abolished. What would this look like? The obvious answer is that different corporations would enjoy different rights based on the perception of the politicians in power at any given moment. I don’t think people who attack corporate personhood have really thought this through as they seem to be more intent on attacking imperfection as if the alternative was better. If you think this through you will see a system plagued with much more corruption than the current one as corporate agents will be forced to increase their ties to politicans to protect their very existence. Since we already see this phenomena in the current system, it doesn’t take much imagination to see a world where corporate rights were subject to the whims of people entirely susceptible to corporate money.