Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Limit Corporate Rights

A while back I posted an article HERE, positing that corporations ought not have the same rights as people.  Here is an excerpt from a NYT article that makes the same point.

corporate_evil ...The courts have long treated corporations as persons in limited ways for some legal purposes. They may own property and have limited rights to free speech. They can sue and be sued. They have the right to enter into contracts and advertise their products. But corporations cannot and should not be allowed to vote, run for office or bear arms. Since 1907, Congress has banned them from contributing to federal political campaignsa ban the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld.

In an exchange this month with Chief Justice Roberts, the solicitor general, Elena Kagan, argued against expanding that narrowly defined personhood. “Few of us are only our economic interests,” she said. “We have beliefs. We have convictions.” Corporations, “engage the political process in an entirely different way, and this is what makes them so much more damaging,” she said.

Chief Justice Roberts disagreed: “A large corporation, just like an individual, has many diverse interests.” Justice Antonin Scalia said most corporations are “indistinguishable from the individual who owns them.”

The Constitution mentions the rights of the people frequently but does not cite corporations. Indeed, many of the founders were skeptical of corporate influence.

John Marshall, the nation’s greatest chief justice, saw a corporation as “an artificial being, invisible, intangible,” he wrote in 1819. “Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it, either expressly, or as incidental to its very existence.”

That does not mean that corporations should have no rights. It is in society’s interest that they are allowed to speak about their products and policies and that they are able to go to court when another company steals their patents. It makes sense that they can be sued, as a person would be, when they pollute or violate labor laws.

The law also gives corporations special legal status: limited liability, special rules for the accumulation of assets and the ability to live forever. These rules put corporations in a privileged position in producing profits and aggregating wealth. Their influence would be overwhelming with the full array of rights that people have.

One of the main areas where corporations’ rights have long been limited is politics. Polls suggest that Americans are worried about the influence that corporations already have with elected officials. The drive to give corporations more rights is coming from the court’s conservative bloc — a curious position given their often-proclaimed devotion to the text of the Constitution.

The founders of this nation knew just what they were doing when they drew a line between legally created economic entities and living, breathing human beings. The court should stick to that line. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Scalia always has been a goose-stepper.  As for Roberts, I said the Democrats should filibuster his (and Alito’s) nomination.  Thousands of us called our Senators, but to no avail.  Do you remember how the Repuglicans howled at the mere mention of a filibuster?  How different they sound today.  Of course, the Senate Democrats lacked the courage to act. How similar they sound today.  Now, we all may pay the price for their timidity.

4 comments:

Brother Tim said...

"But corporations cannot and should not be allowed to vote, run for office or bear arms."

Someone should notify Xe (Blackwater)

TomCat said...

Interesting, Brother. Excellent point. I should have thought of that.

Annette said...

Scalia is best buds with Cheney... they are hunting buddies.. that's what I meant the other day when I said they were bought and paid for.

Of course Roberts and Alito were both Bush nominees and owe their loyalty to him, and to the rethugs.. Then Sen. Obama did vote against Roberts.. that's supposedly why there was so much opposition against Sonia Sotomayor. Grudge match? LOL

TomCat said...

Annette, it may well have been a vengeance thing. I do have to credit Scalia on one account. Anyone who goes hunting with Dead-eye has major gonads! ;-)