Citizens United, Corporate Personhood & The Progressive Freakout (Part 2) - Granite Grok

Citizens United, Corporate Personhood & The Progressive Freakout (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

corporate_spending_protest_ap_imgThat wafts up the next pungent rhetorical fog flatulated from the dishonest Left to inflate their spurious “The court ruled that corporations are people” blimp so they can float it high as some looming ominous evil casting a shroud of doom over all we hold dear.  This is of course silly.  To pretend otherwise, betrays either dishonesty or ignorance.

Corporate Personhood otherwise contorted into the “Corporations aren’t people!!!” freakout.

Now without really thinking about it, if someone asked, “Are corporations people?” Many brows would furrow accompanying an answer like, “No, absolutely not.” Or “Well, I’m not sure.” Or “Maybe”. If one of the latter two is your answer and the person asking fits the hysteric I described at the beginning, step back before uttering the answer  or duck.

Let’s put this plainly and clearly. What the progressives are high-chair pounding about in their reworded phrase is Corporate Personhood.  Corporate Personhood has been around since the 1800’s and is a part of Corporate Law. And before suspecting sinister machinations by corporations and scheming barons consider that without Corporate Personhood a corporation cannot be sued, cannot be taxed, cannot enter into contracts, cannot own property etc. Because if it is not a person, what legal entity is it? Professor Richard Schragger of University of Virginia School of Law:

Corporations and similar organizations are classified as APs, or “artificial persons.” Corporations are treated as singular thinking and acting entities for legal purposes. The corporate person is a fiction; corporations and other organizations are made up of individuals or “natural persons” but are not “persons” themselves—the law is what personifies them.

It makes sense when you think about it. “Corporate personhood actually benefits creditors and customers of corporations.”, according to UVA School of Law Dean Paul G. Mahoney. ”Without personhood, they wouldn’t be able to sue ‘the corporation’ but would have to sue individual shareholders, from whom it would be much more difficult to recover.”

It’s simply a legal device so that an entity can be defined and can legally exist; nothing, dastardly or malicious. Is Corporate Personhood constitutional? Yes. The Constitution does not speak to “corporations” or businesses at all. It’s a construct of the legislature, not a constitutional one. If the legislature desires to remove laws dealing with “artificial persons” or “corporations as persons” it can do so. The Constitution is silent on the matter.

So, why the progressive hissy fit? Might it have something to do with an irrational fear of corporations possessing First Amendment protection? Perhaps. But if it weren’t for such protections one could reasonably expect more government banning of movies (like Hillary), books, newspapers, music, or magazines etc.  Extending First Amendment protections is far from nefarious.  From UVA Law School Professor Frederick Schauer:

In the context of the First Amendment, and in particular freedom of speech and freedom of the press, revisiting the capacity of corporations to exercise First Amendment rights is implausible. Virtually all newspapers, magazines, motion pictures, and books, among other message-deliverers, are corporations, and to suggest that these entities do not possess First Amendment rights would undercut the information- and idea-providing function of the First Amendment, and would, in addition, be the occasion for a dramatic alteration in longstanding First Amendment doctrine and theory.

Or would the progressive bugaboo be that the Citizen United case applies First Amendment protections not only to media corporations and unions but also to any group, and, egads, any corporation as well (I.e., Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Bad Malevolent Corporation du jour)? Possibly. The case did state that “Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment”. So that might be a reason for the progressive freakout. They would prefer their unions and corporations getting rights and not others. That certainly would fit their narrative.

Then again maybe, just maybe, the institutional progressives found in Citizens United the perfect bogeyman to rally the unquestioning to their cause with simple dissemination of dishonesty. To deliberately mislead as many as they can by repeating over and over again how bad the case is because it established and said “Corporations are people”, which it in fact did not. And repeat over and over again that it allows unlimited spending by corporations to candidates, which, of course, it did not. And repeat over and over again that it established the legal rule that money equals speech, which of course it did not.  And most importantly, by all means do not let it be known that what Citizens United decided was that the Federal Government cannot ban the showing of a film about a politician.  For if that were really to be well known and understood, the hiss from the deflating flatulated blimp would be louder than an excited Bernie Sanders speaking on the marvels of socialism.  Pretty damn loud.

So if you object to the Federal Government banning films, you’re not against the Citizens United decision, you’re for it.  Spread the word. And no need to shout, we’ve got the truth on our side.