Today marks the 125th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a landmark case which was interpreted to confer “personhood” on corporations, thus extending the right to equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, which was previously afforded only to individuals. Throughout the next century, the rights of corporations have significantly expanded, and now, thanks to Citizen’s United, include the ability to make almost unlimited political contributions as an expression of free speech.
“In the last 125 years, the concept of corporate personhood has reached ridiculous extremes,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way. “Increasingly our laws and our Constitution are being bent to favor the interests of powerful corporations instead of the rights of ordinary Americans. The Supreme Court’s shocking decision in Citizens United put a ‘for sale’ sign on our democracy, allowing unlimited funds to be spent from corporate treasuries to influence our elections, and the American people are paying the price.”
“The Constitution should serve to advance the interests of We, the People, not giant corporations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Santa Clara Countyv. Southern Pacific Railroad Company has come to stand for the proposition that corporations are presumptively entitled to the same constitutional rights as humans. The doctrine has corroded our democracy, most stunningly in the 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend whatever they like to influence election outcomes. Rescuing our constitutional democracy requires reestablishing the principle that corporations are the creations—and subordinates—of We, the People.”….
Joint Senate Resolution 11 to Amend the Constitution, removing “Personhood” status from Corporations. – http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/journal/SJ110121.pdf#page=1