"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" The crux of the Constitutional analysis of corporate "personhood" and "speech" - TT's Lost in Tokyo

The crux of the Constitutional analysis of corporate "personhood" and "speech"

Further to my four preceding posts, I copy below a further comment that I left on a thread at The Volokh Conspiracy, which I think summarizes the core Constitutional issue:

TokyoTom says:

John Dewey: Sorry, Tom. You can disagree with me, but the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with me. Justice Scalia made it very clear that the First Amendment protects not speakers but rather speech:

“The Amendment is written in terms of “speech,” not speakers. Its text offers
no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals” 

John, I‘m quite aware of what the court has held, but they‘re clearly missing a very obvious distinction: for Constitutional purposes PEOPLE “speak”, not animals or other things. A corporation is certainly an association of individuals, each of whom has his own right to speak. But a corporation is a THING, legally distinct from its owners. Does a corporation speak for itself, or for others — who bear no liability for any false, tortious or criminal speech?

Further, corporations are creatures of the state, so the state has the right to determine their powers. Just as the Rehnquist court held that the government can gag doctors at clinics that accept federal aid, and just as the government still gags churches and other groups that want federal non-profit tax status, so can the state limit the right of owners of corporations to speak through them.

This should be an easy issue, but the Court obfuscates by comparing stated-created corporations, whose owners have received the special privilege of not being liable for any acts of the corporation, with “single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals”, none of which is an artificial, statutorily-created entity with rights or obligations in excess of those of their owners.

If the Court had held that corporations are things — not “persons — and thus do no utter “speech” for purposes of the First Amendment, this would not at all affect the ability of any class of real, live human being associated with them to speak. Employees, managers and owners could all speak individually, or form groups for doing so.

The Court‘s decision here is completely wrong-headed.

Published Thu, Feb 4 2010 9:54 PM by TokyoTom