Sotomayor fires one across corporate America's bow!

Well, she may not have been liberal enough for many, but during her first appearance on the SCOTUS bench Associate Justice Sotomayor spoke out about one of the great missteps in US judicial history, the "about to be codified into law" assumption that Corporations are US Citizens just like people, and therefore have all the constitutional rights that human citizens do.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12531408 8285517643.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

The greatest Chief Justice of them all, John Marshall, was indeed correct as this article states when he said ""A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible. It possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it."

But, in one of the greatest slight of hand magic tricks ever pulled off by the right wing business oligarchs in the famous Southern Pacific Railroad V California case it has been somehow made into a legal truism that US corporations have personhood:

In an 1886 tax dispute between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the state of California, the court reporter quoted Chief Justice Morrison Waite telling attorneys to skip arguments over whether the 14th Amendment's equal-protection clause applied to corporations, because "we are all of opinion that it does."

The court reporter! Yes, that my friends is the basis for over a century of corporations demanding the same rights as US citizens, while having such incredible advantages as immortality!

That's it. Some offhanded remark without any case law backing it has been codified into corporate law, somehow giving corporations rights never assigned in the Constitution.

So we have right wing hacks like Anton Scalia wailing about the imaginary right to privacy nowhere in the Constitution, yet he sits on the bench propagating this myth of Corporate Personhood!  IMHO, Jefferson and Adam's would swoon to think The Hudson Bay Company had all the rights of a Citizen of the Colonies!

So, at least today, I am heartened by Associate Justice Sotomayor's comment. There is little doubt who she was speaking for in this case, and it wasn't the side of big business!

I remember hearing the wailing of those in their bitterness who were backing Palin/McCain, telling me "SCOTUS DOESN'T MATTER" and it wouldn't have made a difference if McCain was appointing SCOTUS judges.

Is there any further insanity then contemplating a SCOTUS with 2,3, maybe 4 MORE John Roberts and Sam Alitos and saying it wouldn't matter?

For all those telling me they are sitting out 2012 if Obama doesn't get the public option, just keep in mind ONE offhanded remark by Republican Morrison Waite started this country down the path to Oligarchy that Roberts and Alito would love to complete.

Just give them a few more brethren on the court, and they will finish the job.

Tags: oligarchy, Sotomayor. corporate personhood (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

In some sense,

full incorporation (of the Bill of Rights) for corporations wouldn't be a terrible move.  Has anyone seen what SCOTUS has been doing to our rights for well over a century.  If a corporation had EXACTLY the same rights as us, we could clobber them over the head with Robert Jackson quotes like "The Constitution is not a suicide pact".

Our better yet, if we view them as legal individuals, why not strike down legal protections for corporations under the 14th amendment?  Or charge CEO's under conspiracy statutes since in some sense that company memo is communicating with a legal individual?  If corporate personhood exists,then it is time to take it to the mattresses.  

Of course the justices would view such talk as silliness.

by AZphilosopher 2009-09-18 01:35AM | 0 recs
I have heard the same argument

as then, we could charge corporations with crimes?

I would think Blackwater COULD be charged with murder?

But, the problem is, corporations have the best of both worlds, they get corporate personhood, but BEING corporations, the people actually pushing the buttons are not either finanically or legally reachable in most criminal law case like murder.

You can sue them civilly?

Anyway, interesting point, but as you say, the WSJ-Ayn Rand fake freemarketers would poo-poo your idea as "a liberal attack on the free market."

by WashStateBlue 2009-09-18 08:06AM | 0 recs
I agree with your take...

...on the Randophiles.  However, I would really press hard on that line and if I were a justice I would right a concurring opinion that would lay that out.

Unfortunately, it seems like accepting extensions of corporate and gun rights means that these rights are absolute.  Conservatives are way too quick to make their "favored rights" absolute.  If they can do that stuff, I want to be able to falsely yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre.  

by AZphilosopher 2009-09-18 08:27AM | 0 recs

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