Monday, October 21, 2019

Corporations Are Not People*

The 2010 Supreme Court decision that found corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals is built on a foundation of logic divorced from reality.  

Corporations in the United States are created under State law.  Without State legislation creating rules for them to exist and regulating their conduct they do not exist. Modern Corporations effectively did not exist when the Constitution was written and were not mentioned in the Constitution.(footnote 1).   Yet somehow Conservative Supreme Courts miraculously divined that the founding fathers intended the first amendment to give Corporations the same free speech rights people enjoy.  

As a result corporations have an almost unfettered right to seek to influence government policy and can do so behind a dizzying array of shell corporations hiding who is really behind the message.  We now have campaigns that never end and spend more money on political advertising than our forefathers could have imagined in their wildest fantasies.  Income inequality and our National Debt have exploded.

To protect this gift from the Supreme Court Corporations have funded organizations whose entire purpose is to protect the ability of Corporations to use the massive money they generate to influence elections.  

There are also organizations seeking to amend the constitution to clarify that corporations are not people.  Here is a link to one.   But a Constitutional amendment is difficult because Corporations are willing to spend so much money to undermine those efforts.  So the people who reject the notion corporations have the same constitutional rights as people have been sadly ineffective.  

The supporters of a Constitutional amendment seem unaware, or unwilling to use the leverage they have to push Corporate interests to the table to develop a more acceptable view of Corporate rights.

Since Corporations are created under State law, states have a lot of leverage not available to Congress.  If enough big urban States linked limited liability to consent to regulation of political spending for all corporations formed or operating within their state no big corporation would give up those markets to protect their right to spend bundles of money influencing national elections.

Just saying - if we want to make progress on overturning this crazy decision we can't let Corporations define the playing field.

*  The title for this blog is borrowed from a book by the same title that is a great source for in depth discussion of the topic - "Corporations Are Not People" by Jeffrey D. Clements.

No comments: