A case for principled conservatives to support an amendment

excerpts from “Abolish Corporate Personhood” blog; read the full text here.

There are many reasons why a principled conservative would want to have the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision reversed by abolishing corporate personhood and ending the doctrine that money is a form of speech. Whereas an unprincipled conservative will put the interests of corporations (property) ahead of the interests of citizens no matter what the consequences, a principled conservative would be concerned about the common good of the Republic.

Conservative Reasons to Abolish Corporate Constitutional Rights

The American Revolution was explicitly anti-corporate, and the revolutionaries made sure that corporations were tightly controlled.
The word corporation does not occur in the Constitution. Corporations had to use unelected, unaccountable judges to give them rights.

According to Thomas Jefferson, judges, who grant corporations rights, are “playing God” because he claimed in the Declaration of Independence that men — not property — are “ordained by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Judge-made law is not democratic. We did not elect the Supreme Court justices, but they get to decide who does and does not count in our democratic order. Congress and the People should decide those issues.

This is not about opposing business or capitalism, and we recognize that corporations play an important role in society. However, we agree with the Founders that corporations do not have the inherent, inalienable constitutional rights of a human being. This is the fundamental principle at stake here. Human rights are for humans. A corporation is not a human being; it is property. Humans have property rights; properties do not have human rights. Corporations should have privileges, not rights.

The sole purpose of a corporation is to amass profit and consolidate wealth. They are legally required and structurally designed to make money at any cost. This makes them dangerous to people and democratic order.

The structure of a corporation separates humans from their actions. They destroy responsibility and hijack decision-making. They make humans do things collectively that they would never do as individuals: poison water, deny healthcare and destroy the planet.

A person is a private entity with rights and sovereignty. A corporation is a public entity with obligations and responsibilities. The American people are sovereign over the government, not the other way around. We should also be sovereign over everything the government creates. All legal fictions are creations of government. If the creation is given power over the creator, then sovereignty is lost.

For the first seventy-five years after the Revolution, corporations could only exist if they served the public good. They were severely restricted in their activities: they had to be chartered by a vote of the state legislature, they could only exist for a certain number of years, they couldn’t own other corporations, they could be dissolved once they had earned a certain profit margin, they couldn’t donate to political or charitable causes, they had to operate in the state they were chartered in, their stockholders were local, they could only do the certain task they were chartered for, and they couldn’t own land that was necessary for carrying out business.

A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. A corporation is merely an artificial entity created  to conduct business. As Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist observed in Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Commission [1986] “To ascribe to corporate entities an ‘intellect’ or ‘mind’ for freedom of conscience purposes, is to confuse metaphor with reality.”

There is also the Rehnquist dissent in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti. That entire dissent is worth reading for everyone, but especially for conservatives as he was, in fact, a conservative.

I would think that any particular form of organization upon which the State confers special privileges or immunities different from those of natural persons would be subject to like regulation, whether the organization is a labor union, a partnership, a trade association, or a corporation. … The blessings of perpetual life and limited liability … so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere.”
There is also the issue of foreign entanglements in our Republic. Corporations have shareholders all over the world and some corporations have majority shareholders outside the United States, not to mention foreign corporations with American subsidiaries.
No truly principled conservative can possibly think that allowing foreign powers to have ANY influence on our political process is acceptable.

About citizenspetition

Working to restore our democracy, by getting money out of politics, starting with overturning Citizens United v. FEC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s