Are Corporations People? / by kevin murray

The above question seems absurd, not even worthy of being considered, but when you have case law that has already decided this issue in the affirmative, indeed, at the level of our highest court; the question deserves more than a cursory dismissal.  To begin with, we must first answer the question as to what is a corporation.  While a corporation may be many different things, at its core, a corporation is a collection of individuals, or even especially in the instance of a limited liability corporation (LLC) a corporation can be just one individual.  Consequently, courts have ruled that corporations should be treated as people for certain legal issues. While the whole concept of corporations being people for certain legal purposes should be just a sideshow, virtually meaningless for most of us,  it has instead become a  highly-charged rallying pointbecause of the perceived unfairness of political financial contributions from corporations acting as individuals so as to circumvent donation limits as well as the end-around in regards to corporations complaining vehemently of being implicitly involved in terminating human life by being compelled to support and to finance a health care act that legalizes and permits such a termination.


In regards to political contributions, there has been historically a very high correlation between the amount of donations made to the success of the candidate(s) involved or to the ballot proposition proposed.  The Supreme Court Decision of 2010 essentially removed the previous limits and most of the restrictions that were imposed upon corporations for federal elections under the guise that the government may not suppress political speech at a federal level.  The problem with this type of judicial decision is that corporations have the money, strength, and resources to easily overwhelm and to dominate any one individual or virtually any conceivable group of individuals.   For instance, ExxonMobil had sales of nearly $500 billion in fiscal year 2013, a number that exceeds the GDP of all than about 25 countries in the world.  Further to this point, corporations by definition are setup to be perpetual continuing enterprises to wit that although they birth, they are never meantto die, so consequently their desires and their goals will never be satiated, making corporations not so much akin to a person, but more alike to modern-day Harpies.


As for corporations being able to have certain laws set aside that are meant to be applied equally to companies of the same size and type, such as the Affordable Care Act law, the recent decision to which corporations such as Hobby Lobby are able to deny certain contraceptive coverage on religious grounds is reasoned incorrectly.  While I respect Hobby Lobby's position and believe it to be sincere, it is at the same time, no more valid than taking the position that a conscientious objector or similar should be able to set aside a certain portion of their taxes that would be paid to the U.S. Treasury, because on moral grounds that do not believe it is right o take another man's life under any circumstances and any monetary support that they would provide is unconscionable to them.


While I do recognize the validity of treating corporations as people for certain specific and limited reasons, this is a door that must be guarded diligently and effectively, because if not, this country, if it isn't already, will become a servant to the military-industrial complex as well as to other mega-conglomerates to which the typical individual will be essentially nothing more than a hired serf with some benefits.