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 Post subject: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:48 pm 
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Nomarch
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. . . perhaps.

I may be changing my mind about this one, but the more I research the legal history behind the questions of corporate personhood, the more it becomes apparent that corporate entities need certain constitutional protections.

For example, if "equal protection under the law" isn't extended to corporate associations, then if, say, the FCC didn't like something that the New York Times was publishing, they could send police to confiscate their printing presses. Without the legal status of personhood, corps could not enter into legally binding contracts, be sued, or file suit themselves. If Pepsi were to successfully lobby congress to ban Coke advertisements, there would be no legal recourse for Coke, as the first amendment could not protect them.

My point is simply that stripping corporations of their "citizenship" will likely cause far more problems than it will solve, in the long run. Decades of legal precedent will have to be re-litigated before anybody will have a clear understanding of what protections do and do not extend to corporate associations, and at what cost to society?

Does anybody else agree? If not, where does my argument fail? And, if it is true that corporations require a legal status comparable to that of citizens, how might we limit the influence of money on policy-making without infringing upon the requirements of "equal protection" under the law?

Interested in what both sides have to say on this issue.

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So as long as there are a handful of americans allied with terrorist organizations we will continue this surveillance of all americans and these wartime authorities to detain enemy combatants indefinitely... or execute them summarily...

...Because terrorists might take their puny little militaries and conquer our country.

This is a war on fleas.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:55 pm 
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Yes, the situation is sticky.

A great deal of the actions of private citizens are performed by as a corporation.

Movies and newspapers are great examples.

Michael Moore films are technically the speech of the corporation he founded to make the movies.....

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:34 pm 
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Sticky indeed, the issue most people take with corporate citizenship is the part entitling it to free speech like a corporeal citizen.

It's important that corporations retain some legal protection. When you sue someone you can go after their assets; when you sue a corporation you go after their assets. Who in their right mind would ever get involved in a corporation if they, the flesh and blood individual, wouldn't have some aegis against litigation?

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:53 pm 
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Does it make sense to come up with a third, entirely separate, legal status for corporations? I think that, while they do represent associations of citizens, they are clearly very different entities. I think we can all agree that corporations should be legally bound to contracts, but should they be able to plead the 5th to bar board-members or stock holders from testifying against the company in a court of law?

Is it feasible to formally define corporations in a legal sense, distinct from natural persons, in such a way that these sorts of dilemmas won't continue to come up?

What do you guys think of placing limits on political advertising during election cycles on both people and corporations as a simple way to limit the ability of the wealthy and powerful to buy influence and access? In this way, we are curbing everybody's right of expression, under the assumption that such restrictions are necessary to a healthy electoral process. Any thoughts?

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So as long as there are a handful of americans allied with terrorist organizations we will continue this surveillance of all americans and these wartime authorities to detain enemy combatants indefinitely... or execute them summarily...

...Because terrorists might take their puny little militaries and conquer our country.

This is a war on fleas.

-DrYouth


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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Flynn wrote:
Does it make sense to come up with a third, entirely separate, legal status for corporations?


To me, that seems to make the most sense. It's not without potential complications of its own, but it seems to be a decent middle ground between "a corporation is a person" and "a corporation has no existence under the law whatsoever".

FWIW, my perspective on this is that corporations are made of people. They should have no greater or fewer rights under the law than do their members, collectively. A corporation has the freedom of expression as do its individual members. A corporation can sue and be sued, just as the individual members could be if they weren't part of a corporation. A corporation cannot vote, but its individual members can. If it were otherwise, people would essentially be allowed to vote twice, once for themselves and another time as part of the corporation.

My overall view is that people do not forfeit their rights when they become part of a corporation, therefore the corporation does not need to be seen as a "person" with a legal standing apart from the collective rights of its members.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Corporations are citizens when it's convenient and beneficial for the corporation. When it isn't convenient or beneficial, they are not treated as citizens. For instance, when corporations break the law and it's time to hold the corporation accountable, then the corporation shape-shirts into just a massive group of people, none of whom are responsible for the illegal act.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:18 pm 
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Corporations don't have the right to marry.

They don't get sent to prison.

They can't legally adopt children.

They can't get passports.

They can't vote.

There are lots of ways that a corporation is not the same as a person.

The people within the corporations retain their rights, but the corporation itself is property. And property does not have rights.


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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:54 pm 
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Quote:
. . . The 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868, and it gave the federal government ultimate power over the states in respect to the rights of newly freed slaves. The amendment sought to overturn state-level legislation that was being created to limit the liberties of freedmen after the Civil War. The federal government circumvented each one of these laws with a broad sweep: Through the 14th Amendment, Congress granted equal protection under the law to every person [source: Library of Congress]. That last word is important, since in the eyes of the law, a corporation is an artificial person.

While the 14th Amendment opened the door for corporate Constitutional rights, the issue wasn't really addressed until 1868. A dispute over whether a county has the right to tax a corporation turned out to settle this much larger issue in a very strange way.

In the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the Supreme Court decided that only the state that charters a corporation can tax it. This decision upheld the long-standing custom in America of state governance of corporations. It's the state that grants a corporation its charter -- its license to do business -- and it's up to the state to tax and regulate the corporation.

But a note written by the court reporter at the heading of the decision went further than that. Although another, private note from the Chief Justice said that the court had purposely avoided the issue of Constitutional corporate protection, the reporter chose to make his own addition to the records. He noted that the court had decided that corporations are persons under the 14th Amendment, and as such are subject to the same protections under the law as anyone else [source: Hartmann].

What's strange, Hartmann points out, is that the justices hadn't ruled that way at all. Even fishier, the court reporter was a former railroad president [source: Hartmann]. Ultimately, since it was a headnote (a commentary prefix to the court record) written by the reporter, it didn't constitute law. But it did set precedent. Two years later, this idea was upheld in another case: Pembina Consolidated Mining and Milling Co. v. Pennsylvania [source: Aljalian].

Just how much Constitutional protection corporations should be afforded is still being hammered out today, court case by court case.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/corporation-person1.htm


No, hijacking the 14th Amendment for mercenary capitalism when it's intended to govern the treatment of freed blacks isn't the right way to go about things.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:31 pm 
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Nomarch
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In order to be a person, do you have to be alive?

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"Hank," I answered
"listen, Hank," he asked, "what makes a man a writer?"
"well," I said, "it's simple, it's either you get it down on paper or you jump off a bridge. writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers."
"are you desperate?"
"I don't know..."
I walked on through and as I took the escalator up I saw him sitting there, probably thinking that it was possibly bullshit, he had wanted me to suggest some special school, some special way, like some way to get out of that red coat, it was not an enlightening job like designing a bridge or batting cleanup for the Dodgers but he wasn't desperate enough, the desperate don't ask, they do...
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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:47 pm 
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Hetairoi
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ShotgunCasual wrote:
In order to be a person, do you have to be alive?


How do you kill that which has no life?


Really though, is there any reason why it's got to be one or the other? Considering that it's not one or the other already...

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:51 pm 
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Nomarch
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doc_loliday wrote:
ShotgunCasual wrote:
In order to be a person, do you have to be alive?


How do you kill that which has no life?


Really though, is there any reason why it's got to be one or the other? Considering that it's not one or the other already...


What do you mean?

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"Hank," I answered
"listen, Hank," he asked, "what makes a man a writer?"
"well," I said, "it's simple, it's either you get it down on paper or you jump off a bridge. writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers."
"are you desperate?"
"I don't know..."
I walked on through and as I took the escalator up I saw him sitting there, probably thinking that it was possibly bullshit, he had wanted me to suggest some special school, some special way, like some way to get out of that red coat, it was not an enlightening job like designing a bridge or batting cleanup for the Dodgers but he wasn't desperate enough, the desperate don't ask, they do...
- Charles Bukowski


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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:01 pm 
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Nomarch
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Obviously corporations are natural persons, but the question is how do we classify them legally? What rights and protections do we afford them, and on what basis do we determine these things? I hear a lot of progressives and libertarians bashing the "corporate personhood" interpretation, but I've yet to see anybody offer an alternative framework for distinguishing private citizens from citizen associations.

_________________
So as long as there are a handful of americans allied with terrorist organizations we will continue this surveillance of all americans and these wartime authorities to detain enemy combatants indefinitely... or execute them summarily...

...Because terrorists might take their puny little militaries and conquer our country.

This is a war on fleas.

-DrYouth


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 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:10 pm 
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Hetairoi
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I replied to you with a line from the South Park, if that's what you meant.

With regard to corporate personhood, there are certain rights that you would never ascribe to a corporate entity, real people don't consider them that way. But they are afforded rights that a people do have, and rightly so. It doesn't bother me to say that you can sue a corporation instead of a shareholder or that a corporation can sue another one, but a corporation can't vote and shouldn't donate politically.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:13 pm 
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Flynn wrote:
Obviously corporations are natural persons, but the question is how do we classify them legally? What rights and protections do we afford them, and on what basis do we determine these things? I hear a lot of progressives and libertarians bashing the "corporate personhood" interpretation, but I've yet to see anybody offer an alternative framework for distinguishing private citizens from citizen associations.


Nobody on these forums, or elsewhere? Some googlage shows alternatives thoughts on the matter.

I don't have a thorough framework, but I can point out glaring problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Corporations ARE citizens, and they SHOULD BE. . .
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:58 am 
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Flynn wrote:
Obviously corporations are natural persons, but the question is how do we classify them legally? What rights and protections do we afford them, and on what basis do we determine these things? I hear a lot of progressives and libertarians bashing the "corporate personhood" interpretation, but I've yet to see anybody offer an alternative framework for distinguishing private citizens from citizen associations.

Corporations are comprised of people. However, the corporation, itself, should not be classified as a "natural person." It should be classified as a "corporation," with legal rights and limitations specifically delineated for corporations. I certainly don't know all of the intricacies of corporate law. But it seems to me that the generalized term "natural person" does not fit.

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