[Ed Note: The author appeared with me last night, as I guest hosted the Mike Malloy Show. We discussed the following article, as well as his other recent piece examining the dangerous scam of U.S. corporate welfare as military "foreign aid" in Egypt. You can now listen to that interview here. - BF]
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
As Vermont becomes the first state to consider a Constitutional amendment that would put an end to "corporate personhood", it is perhaps worthwhile to examine the historical context in which the concept arose and the forceful challenges to its validity that have been mustered by a minority of Supreme Court Justices.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor created a stir when, during oral arguments in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, she not only questioned the validity of the corporate challenge to limits on campaign spending but questioned a legal doctrine which dates back to an 1886 decision, Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. She observed that it was the courts who "created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons," and that "an argument" could be made "that that was the court's error to start with...[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics."
Sotomayor, whose position was not included in Justice John Paul Steven's dissenting opinion in Citizens United --- a dissent she signed onto --- is by no means the first Supreme Court Justice to question the legitimacy of a long-standing doctrine of U.S. corporate law which has served to undermine the very fabric of individual liberty and democratic accountability, permitting wealth, power and control over mass communications to be concentrated in the hands of the privileged few.
Earlier dissents from Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas not only challenged the legitimacy of extending to corporations Constitutional rights intended to protect the living, breathing human beings who make up our nation's citizenry but exposed the hypocrisy of the activist, Federalist Society Justices, who claim to be "strict constructionists," but who are, in fact, as we've reported previously, part of a corporate-funded, counterrevolution in law...