Why Corporations aren’t People
For full disclosure, I am NOT an attorney, and I do NOT claim to be one. I am merely a political blogger with too much time on my hands.
Very simple: If corporations were give the same Thirteenth Amendment rights that are provided to people, corporations couldn’t be owned by their shareholders, as that would constitute slavery!
The Supreme Court, in the highly controversial Citizens United vs. FEC decision, used a legal concept known as corporate personhood to allow for unlimited spending by shadowy outside groups not officially connected to campaigns for public office but run advertisements advocating for or against candidates for public office. The problem is, the legal concept of corporate personhood runs counter to Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
If corporations were people, they couldn’t be owned by people who own shares of stock in corporations! Five Justices of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy, used a legal concept that runs counter to the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow for SuperPACs to flood the airwaves with political advertisements. I thought Supreme Court justices were supposed to be interpreting the Constitution! Apparently, that’s not the case anymore.
Given the fact that, in December of last year, the Montana Supreme Court issued a ruling, Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, that runs completely counter to Citzens United, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer, two of the four U.S. Supreme Court justices who issued a dissenting opinion in the Citizens United case, see an opportunity to overturn the precedent established by Citizens United, it’s quite possible, although not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination, that Citizens United may be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court when they hear the Western Tradition case.
While any case that might overturn Citizens United is going to be centered around the First Amendment and not the Thirteenth Amendment, it is interesting to point out that the legal concept of corporate personhood goes against the Thirteenth Amendment.