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Too late.

Ken
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I put it on my facebook page.

Peter
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Wow.
Let's just gut the first amendment.

So much for freedom of assembly.
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So much for freedom of assembly.

How does this "gut" freedom of assembly?
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How does this "gut" freedom of assembly?
Too funny.

Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies
...or not-for-profits including churches, charities, schools, community groups (Elks,Moose, Rotary, Lions)...
Basically anyone who gets together and wants to speak on an issue in an organized manner.

Tyranny comes in many forms. Divide-and-conquer is historically one of the most effective.
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Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies
...or not-for-profits including churches, charities, schools, community groups (Elks,Moose, Rotary, Lions)...
Basically anyone who gets together and wants to speak on an issue in an organized manner.


Whatever did Americans do before the Supreme Court defined railroad companies as "persons"?

Citizens United didn't suddenly make it safe for churches, charities, schools and other groups to assemble peacefully.

Overturning it will not challenge those rights which have existed for centuries.
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Whatever did Americans do before the Supreme Court defined railroad companies as "persons"?
Sigh.
I almost despair for your ability to think critically. Despair, though, is a sin and so I persevere.

Get over the Citizens United decision, assume for a minute that it doesn't exist and never occurred.
How does this We The People amendment protect the ability of people to come together as an organization and lobby their government? It does not. It requires them to do so as individuals. Divide and conquer.

Invert, always invert.
-Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Gustav_Jacob_Jacobi#Scient...
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“We the People Amendment”... clearly and unequivocally states that:

1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and

2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.


Probably the single best thing that could happen to the U.S. political system.

Talk about "taking back" the country.

This is something Tea Partiers and OWSers should agree on.
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1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and

2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.


Ugh. Again? Are we really better off if the government has the power to censor CBS's television progams? To prohibit Paramount from making movies that the government doesn't like? To prevent groups like the Sierra Club or Amnesty International from engaging in any political participation? To be able to seize all of the assets of Planned Parenthood without compensation? To ban corporate publishing and distribution of books? Really?

Albaby
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1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and

2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.


So you want to gut freedom of assembly and the first amendment? Terrible idea. Pass this and watch the government ban ads critical of incumbents.
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There are days like this where I wish you could get exactly what you want, it only for a short time.

Some lessons are only learned the hard way.
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In spite of WuLong's jab about not being able to think critically, I don't see this as threatening right to assemble.
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... but I do see it as threatening the rights of big money to buy politicians.

And I have no problem with that.

And yes, Dope, for the umpteenth time... that includes the right of unions to buy politicians.
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In spite of WuLong's jab about not being able to think critically, I don't see this as threatening right to assemble.

Of course it is. This amendment says that I can say what I want as an individual, but if I get together with 10 other people, collectively we are prohibited from speaking about politics.

You don't lose your rights just because suddenly you join a group. This amendment would slam shut the ability of a group to petition the government for action. Your rights aren't stand alone. They work in conjunction with all the others to make a functioning system.

Take any one away and the house of cards comes down.
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In spite of WuLong's jab...
Sigh.

Could you please answer the question?
How does this We The People amendment protect the ability of people to come together as an organization and lobby their government?
Or let me phase it another way - If I wanted to make sure that individuals could not come together as an organization and lobby their government, what would I do that is different from this amendment?

Read a bit more Orwell.
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Of course it is. This amendment says that I can say what I want as an individual, but if I get together with 10 other people, collectively we are prohibited from speaking about politics.

Show me precisely where it says that.
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Or let me phase it another way - If I wanted to make sure that individuals could not come together as an organization and lobby their government, what would I do that is different from this amendment?

Read a bit more Orwell.


I have read Orwell, and Orwell says alot about totalitarian governments changing the meaning of words... like....

Corporations are persons, and

Money equals speech.

Time to heed Orwell and end that nonsense.
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"Ugh. Again? Are we really better off if the government has the power to censor CBS's television progams? To prohibit Paramount from making movies that the government doesn't like? To prevent groups like the Sierra Club or Amnesty International from engaging in any political participation? To be able to seize all of the assets of Planned Parenthood without compensation? To ban corporate publishing and distribution of books? Really?"

OK. You're right. Some fine tuning is needed.

Ken
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Are we really better off if the government has the power to censor CBS's television progams? To prohibit Paramount from making movies that the government doesn't like? To prevent groups like the Sierra Club or Amnesty International from engaging in any political participation? To be able to seize all of the assets of Planned Parenthood without compensation? To ban corporate publishing and distribution of books? Really?

No. But then no one is suggesting we would be.

Thanks for playing.
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You are purposefully ducking the question.
Very Orwell, that.
Truthspeak, no?

Answer the question - If I wanted to make sure that individuals could not come together as an organization and lobby their government, what would I do that is different from this amendment?
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"Thanks for playing."

albaby is IMO raising valid First Amendment concerns that need to be considered.

Ken
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Answer the question - If I wanted to make sure that individuals could not come together as an organization and lobby their government, what would I do that is different from this amendment?

First you must answer- where in the following is the right to assemble threatened?

1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and
2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.
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No. But then no one is suggesting we would be.

Thanks for playing.


Yes, they are. If corporations do not have constitutional rights, then the corporate entities that I described in my post would not have any constitutional protections against state governments. You don't think that South Dakota wouldn't want to seize all of Planned Parenthood's assets, once you take away their Fifth Amendment rights? That Mississippi wouldn't try to keep movie studios from marketing or distributing movies with sexual content, once you take away their First Amendment rights? That Alabama might decide that it doesn't really want local television affiliates airing Will and Grace reruns?

Albaby
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Yes, they are. If corporations do not have constitutional rights, then the corporate entities that I described in my post would not have any constitutional protections against state governments. You don't think that South Dakota wouldn't want to seize all of Planned Parenthood's assets, once you take away their Fifth Amendment rights? That Mississippi wouldn't try to keep movie studios from marketing or distributing movies with sexual content, once you take away their First Amendment rights? That Alabama might decide that it doesn't really want local television affiliates airing Will and Grace reruns?

Albaby


Albaby- given the "nose under the tent" mentality that expands a give law beyond all reasonable bounds, I agree that that would be a concern.

And if Dope and WuLong were voicing their concern based upon this point, then I agree with them as well... Let's see how this shakes out... or if needed protections will be spelled out.
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First you must answer...
A) No, I don't.
B) I already did.

Swing and a miss. Strike three and you're out.
I can simply no longer consider you as serious.
You have achieved the status of mere hack.
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Albaby- given the "nose under the tent" mentality that expands a give law beyond all reasonable bounds, I agree that that would be a concern.

It's not a "nose under the tent" issue. It's there in the proposal from the outset. If you want an amendment that prohibits corporate participation in elections, then fine - pass an amendment that prohibits that. For some reason, though, the folks who are wound up about this keep talking about amendments that strip all corporations of all rights altogether, rather than just addressing the specific thing they care about.

If corporations don't have any rights under the constitution, then government can do anything it wants to corporations - even corporations you like, even corporations doing things that you like. Weakening the power of corporate entities to participate in the public sphere can be applied to Media Matters or the Southern Poverty Law Center just as easily as Exxon or Monsanto, and goodness knows that cultural conservatives have ached to be able to control media and popular culture more directly.

Albaby
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And if Dope and WuLong were voicing their concern based upon this point, then I agree with them as well...
Doubt it.
I've stated similar objections in the past. I'd post the links if TMF search were working.
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I don't see this as threatening right to assemble.

Good grief man.

Such a law allow states and the federal government to make it illegal for something as simple as the parents of the Sandy Hook kids to organize to petition the government. Individually they each would have that right but any organization they create would not share in the same protections.

MADD - no 1st admendment rights
Your church - no 1st admendment rights
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I'd post the links if TMF search were working.

They fixed it recently - you can search again.

I think this is an almost ludicrously bad idea on a lot of levels, and there's a lot of things wrong with this proposal. But I have to say that a curtailing of the freedom of association probably is not one of them. That's because of NAACP ex. rel Patterson, a SCOTUS case during the civil rights era that arose out of southern states' efforts to get a hold of the NAACP's membership lists. Alabama tried to claim that the NAACP had no constitutional rights as a corporation, and therefore the state could freely require the disclosure of their members. The Court held that it need not reach the question of whether the NAACP had legal rights (which it later resolved in favor of the NAACP in NAACP v. Button) - rather, the NAACP was permitted to assert the associational rights of its members.

Note that this does not operate as protection for the activities of the corporation, or to allow the corporation to take measures to advance the goals of its members - it protects only their associational rights, not any substantive rights that they wish to assert through the corporate form.

Albaby
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So you want to gut freedom of assembly and the first amendment?

Nope. Thanks for playing.
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> So you want to gut freedom of assembly and the first amendment?

>>Nope. Thanks for playing.


Yes you do. Game off.
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In spite of WuLong's jab about not being able to think critically, I don't see this as threatening right to assemble.

Because it does not, in any way, threaten people's right to assemble.

It does, however, threaten dissemblers.

It is peculiar how folks who otherwise champion the individual and despise "collectivism," especially "collective rights," consider this collective right so dear. Corporations and other organizations aren't people. They're collections of people. Money is not speech. And both these notions are relatively new (bad) ideas.
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They fixed it recently - you can search again.
I did before I posted - nothing.

The Court held that it need not reach the question of whether the NAACP had legal rights (which it later resolved in favor of the NAACP in NAACP v. Button) - rather, the NAACP was permitted to assert the associational rights of its members.
Which was not decided under this "We The People" Amendment.

the freedom of association probably is not one of them.
Depends, I suppose, on your definition of "association".
Consider:
In 1774, the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress proclaimed that the colonists "have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the King; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal."
http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/amendments/1/essays/...

The "We The People" Amendment says 1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies;.
It would allow people to peaceably to assemble and consider of their grievances, but that assembly could not then petition the government. The organization has no such right. At most they could sign a group petition as individuals.

More importantly, they could not organize as a federation of organizations to lobby as a group on behalf of their members.

Assembly means more than simply to gather. The assembly must also be able to act.
Elimination of the right to assembly is not merely an effect, but is in fact the whole purpose of this amendment.

Do you really want to make sure the ACLU never again has standing in a court of law? This amendment does that.
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Assembly means more than simply to gather. The assembly must also be able to act.

Elimination of the right to assembly is not merely an effect, but is in fact the whole purpose of this amendment.


I'm not sure that's correct. Assembly involves giving the people the right to gather together, and to pursue common goals - but it does not necessarily require that the assembly be separately empowered to pursue those common goals as a distinct unit. I can have twenty people over to my house to organize a letter-writing campaign to congressfolk; I can organize a protest march against a particular law. Those things do not require that the 'group' have rights separate from the individuals involved.

Do you really want to make sure the ACLU never again has standing in a court of law? This amendment does that.

It doesn't do that, though it certainly allows it - and I think that's a terrible idea. There are a lot of terrible, flat-out stupid consequences of this type of a law. However, I'm not sure that a deprivation of the freedom of assembly (which right probably inheres to the participants, not the assemblage), is one of them.

Albaby
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I'm not sure that's correct. Assembly involves giving the people the right to gather together, and to pursue common goals - but it does not necessarily require that the assembly be separately empowered to pursue those common goals as a distinct unit.
So, "freedom of assembly" means it's OK for Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, et al to get together, but it doesn't allow them to be the Continental Congress.
Got it.
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So, "freedom of assembly" means it's OK for Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, et al to get together, but it doesn't allow them to be the Continental Congress.

Got it.


I'm not sure I follow the analogy - even under the existing First Amendment, you don't have the right to get together with a bunch of folks and declare yourself to be Congress.

There is no organic right for an assemblage of persons to have legal status distinct from the individuals involved. Corporate charters were originally granted at the pleasure of the state legislature, after all. The constitution requires the government to let individuals come together to work towards a common goal, but it does not require the government to confer independent legal status to the assemblage separate from the invididuals involved.

The idiocy of the amendment, and where xLife misses the point, is that virtually all of modern speech and advocacy is performed by (or through) corporate entities. Giving government the power to restrict the rights of corporate entities essentially frees the government from any limits on censorship or persecution of unpopular causes in almost any medium that matters. It might not be an assemblage issue, but it's a monstrously important one.

Albaby
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I'm not sure I follow the analogy - even under the existing First Amendment, you don't have the right to get together with a bunch of folks and declare yourself to be Congress.
If the Continental Congress was not an assembly, then what was it?
If the Constitutuional Convention was not an assembly, then what was it?
If the Democratic National Committee is not an assembly, then what is it?


There is no organic right for an assemblage of persons to have legal status distinct from the individuals involved.
OF COURSE THERE IS!
Where do you pull this from? Seriously, people have a right to organize around issues, yes? They have a right to act, yes? They have a right to delegate those actions to some subset of the group, yes?
How is that different from the organization acting as an entity of itself?

Or are you trying to say that it does not have limited liability? If so, this amendment does nothing to end that.
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If the Continental Congress was not an assembly, then what was it?
If the Constitutuional Convention was not an assembly, then what was it?
If the Democratic National Committee is not an assembly, then what is it?


Congress is an assembly. Not all assemblies are Congress. You have no right to form a Congress, even under the current First Amendment. These assemblies only have legal distinct status from their membership because there are laws that create distinct status from their membership.

Where do you pull this from? Seriously, people have a right to organize around issues, yes? They have a right to act, yes? They have a right to delegate those actions to some subset of the group, yes?
How is that different from the organization acting as an entity of itself?


Because the subset has no legal authority to act on behalf of the group. The group can meet and organize and do anything it wants to do, but that doesn't give it independent legal existence.

Imagine a group of people who are trying to advance some cause (say, puppy awareness), and they decide they want to buy a car to suit their purposes. They have not formed a corporation (or other legal entity) - they're just a group of people who care about puppies and call themselves Puppy Awareness (PA). They form a Car Committee, which has Pat run down to the used car lot to buy a car. The title for the car will have to be issued in Pat's (or some other member's) name - there is no entity that can own that car, so it has to be held by a person. The members of the group can enter into various agreements amongst themselves about disposition of assets that they have purchased for the benefit of the group, but ownership is not somthing that PA can exercise as a separate entity.

So just exten that - if a state doesn't allow corporations (or other artificial entities), then people can't just create independent legal entities simply by assembling.

Or are you trying to say that it does not have limited liability? If so, this amendment does nothing to end that.

Not that it does not have limited liability - that it has no independent legal status apart from its members unless the state allows it. And the state is under no constitutional obligation to allow it.

Albaby
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You don't think that South Dakota wouldn't want to seize all of Planned Parenthood's assets, once you take away their Fifth Amendment rights?

On what basis would they seize those assets? Can they just seize the assets of Exxon (in South Dakota) if they feel like it? Is it the 5th Amendment that prevents this? Can South Dakota just wade in and shut down Jim's Deli because it doesn't like the sauerkraut Jim sells?

That Mississippi wouldn't try to keep movie studios from marketing or distributing movies with sexual content, once you take away their First Amendment rights?

Again, on what basis? Mississippi already has some laws which regulate pornography, probably, the location of strip clubs, etc. Are you saying they could simply decide they don't like movie theaters one day? Or that they have some authority over television stations licensed by the FCC?

I don't understand the legal theory you're using to espouse these horrible outcomes.
 
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On what basis would they seize those assets? Can they just seize the assets of Exxon (in South Dakota) if they feel like it? Is it the 5th Amendment that prevents this? Can South Dakota just wade in and shut down Jim's Deli because it doesn't like the sauerkraut Jim sells?

* * *

I don't understand the legal theory you're using to espouse these horrible outcomes.


This is in response to the proposed amendment to the Constitution at the top of the thread that would declare that corporations (in contrast to natural persons) have no rights under the Constitution. Thus, corporations would no longer be protected under the Fifth or First Amendments.

With the Fifth gone, states would be able to seize any corporate assets (including Exxon) if they felt like it - there would be no requirement to provide just compensation. As to movie theaters, the states could simply prohibit the use of corporate funds to distribute or exhibit movies that the state did not approve of - which would allow them to exercise prior restraint censorship on any films they did not like. Since corporations would no longer have First Amendment protections, that would be lawful, under the proposed amendment.

Albaby
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Yes, they are. If corporations do not have constitutional rights, then the corporate entities that I described in my post would not have any constitutional protections against state governments.

So? Who says corporations should have constitutional rights vis-a-vis the state, as opposed to legal rights and responsibilities?Corporations are legal constructs to begin with. They don't even exist except insofar as they are recognized by the state.

You don't think that South Dakota wouldn't want to seize all of Planned Parenthood's assets, once you take away their Fifth Amendment rights?

I don't know. I suppose it might. But such things can be against the law without constitutional corporate personhood. The constitution applies to people and to collections of people irrespective of whether they're incorporated, a union, a community group or five guys singing on a street corner. But that doesn't make those things a person.
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You don't think that South Dakota wouldn't want to seize all of Planned Parenthood's assets, once you take away their Fifth Amendment rights?

I don't know. I suppose it might. But such things can be against the law without constitutional corporate personhood. The constitution applies to people and to collections of people irrespective of whether they're incorporated, a union, a community group or five guys singing on a street corner. But that doesn't make those things a person.


Against what law? That's the key - in this arena, the Constitution operates as a restraint against state and federal governments, limiting the types of laws they adopt. That's how state laws can be against the law.

The question is not whether the constitution applies to people or collections of people - the question is whether corporations have legal rights that can be asserted on their own behalf. This is critical because corporations do most of the things they do on their own behalf, not as indirect conduits for individuals.

The corporation is distinct from the sum of its shareholders. Corporate assets are owned by the corporation, not the shareholders - which means that if the corporation doesn't have Fifth Amendment rights independent of the Fifth Amendment rights of its shareholders, the government can seize that property without compensation. When corporations like Disney make a movie, that movie is owned by (and is the speech of) the corporate entity - not by any particular individual - which means that the absence of corporate rights means the movie can be censored.

The bottom line is that political speech is "core" protected speech, so any amendment that generally weakens corporation's First Amendment rights (ie. by taking away their 'personhood') in order to keep them from engaging in political speech will (by necessity) allow the government to censor all of their speech. If the goal is to stop them from engaging in election campaign activity, then just prohibit that - stop messing around with all this "personhood" stuff that has a raft of absolutely horrific unintended consequences.

Albaby
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There is no We the People.

It's the We the Sheeple, who will gladly cede liberties providing our guy is in the White House.

Democracy and Republic.

Finished.

In your heart, you know it too.

JediG
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Albaby,

I agree that we have to be very careful with the proposed idea. But I'm curious about the seizing of assets. The Fifth says that this cannot occur without 'due process'. However, for a state to do that would undoubtedly require legislative action, yes? Is that not "due process"?

Tangentially, using drones to kill US citizens is said to satisfy "due process" because a group of senior officials (including the POTUS, I believe) deliberated it. I read about that a few weeks ago. That seems a lot weaker, to me, than a legislature passing some bill (and getting a governor to sign it).

What constitutes "due process", and who decides?

Regarding the general topic of this thread, I think almost any action we take causes as many problems as it solves. The only one that doesn't is transparency. We need to know, and publicize, who and/or what is supporting a given candidate or proposition. And if it's a corporation we need to know who's behind that corporation. The corporation can still do it, but it has to be apparent to all that the Kochs are behind it, or Soros, or whomever. I was only partially facetious when I suggested a while back that politicos should have to wear jackets emblazoned with the logos of their sponsors, just like athletes and race drivers do. Transparency is the one thing I don't think can backfire on us (since honesty is never wrong).

1poorguy
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The question is not whether the constitution applies to people or collections of people...

I don't think that is the question. The constitution obviously applies to groups of people, but as groups of people. It's the idea that the group itself is "a person" with respect to the constitution that's in question. I don't think it is. It's a "legal fiction" that is sometimes useful, such as with enforcement of contracts, and sometimes not, as with free speech. This is already recognized by the courts. For example, a corporation does not have the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.
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I don't think that is the question. The constitution obviously applies to groups of people, but as groups of people. It's the idea that the group itself is "a person" with respect to the constitution that's in question. I don't think it is. It's a "legal fiction" that is sometimes useful, such as with enforcement of contracts, and sometimes not, as with free speech. This is already recognized by the courts. For example, a corporation does not have the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.

If it's a legal fiction, then can a state deprive a corporation of the ownership of an asset without just compensation? The individuals who make up the corporation do not own the asset - the corporation does. If the corporation does not have rights it can assert against the government, then the state can just take the corporation's property at a whim.

Similarly, does a corporation have the right to engage in speech? The speech of a corporation is not speech of the individuals that might own it or organize it. If the corporation does not have a right to free speech, then government can censor the speech of any corporation it chooses.

Corporations as a separate and distinct entity from the individuals that comprise it is not a legal "fiction". It is a very real principle of our law - the corporation is an entity distinct from it's officers, employees, and shareholders. You can't strip that corporation of its rights globally and still expect it to have any protections to engage in speech (or own property or claim due process in litigation or any one of a host of things).

Albaby
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If it's a legal fiction, then can a state deprive a corporation of the ownership of an asset without just compensation?

You are misunderstanding the term. "Corporate personhood" is a legal fiction, a legal convenience. Corporations only exist insofar as they are recognized by the state. They aren't people (obviously.) They are incorporeal abstractions. They are afforded some rights and responsibilities of people, but not others, as determined by law for the purpose of societal convenience. (Imagine corporate law suits if the plaintiffs and defendants numbered in the tens of thousands or millions.)

To answer your question though, yes. It happens all the time. Taxation deprives corporations (and individuals) of assets without compensation.



If the corporation does not have rights it can assert against the government, then the state can just take the corporation's property at a whim.

I'm not arguing that corporations should not have rights vis-a-vis the government. I'm arguing that they are not people and should have only those rights which make economic and legal sense. To use a common expression, corporations do not have "natural rights." They have legislated rights. It can only be thus. Corporations are legal creations of the state and only have existence and meaning in that legal context.
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To answer your question though, yes. It happens all the time. Taxation deprives corporations (and individuals) of assets without compensation.

No, it does not - the taxation power is not a taking under the Fifth Amendment. What I'm talking about is the ability of government to simply take corporate property (outside of the exercise of the normal taxing power), and not compensate you for it.

I'm arguing that they are not people and should have only those rights which make economic and legal sense. To use a common expression, corporations do not have "natural rights." They have legislated rights. It can only be thus. Corporations are legal creations of the state and only have existence and meaning in that legal context.

I have to say, the above just reads like a word salad to me. I really don't understand this argument at all. Are you arguing that since legislatures created corporations, they can create them in such a way that the normal Constitutional limits on governmental don't apply? Government is not permitted to restrict speech - are you saying that legislatures have the power to create corporations in a manner that would allow governments that do not normally have the right to restrict speech could restrict theirs? And if so....again, what implications does that have for corporations like the New York Times and MediaMatters and CBS?

In other words, how can government have the power to censor corporate speech in one context (political speech) and not have it in another - less odious - context (say, censoring movies or television programs)?

Albaby
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For example, a corporation does not have the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.

Nor can it get married to another corporation of the same sex, but the issue we are talking about here is from the original post:

"1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies"

What Al is astutely pointing out is that wishing for corporations to have no rights under the constitution would make this a very different (in a bad way) country.

I think that xlife is saying that there could be some refinement of laws defining rights of corporations, which is different than the original post which wants to blow them all out of the water.

I think political speech is at the heart of the first amendment and that right shouldn't exclude a group or corporation or union.
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No, it does not - the taxation power is not a taking under the Fifth Amendment. What I'm talking about is the ability of government to simply take corporate property (outside of the exercise of the normal taxing power), and not compensate you for it.

Okay, but corporations don't have to have the same rights as people for that not to be legal. We can and do attribute certain rights, but not others, to corporations for legal convenience and economic efficiency. This should be done only when it is in the interest of society, not because corporations are people. They are not.
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Are you arguing that since legislatures created corporations, they can create them in such a way that the normal Constitutional limits on governmental don't apply?

No. I'm saying as abstract legal entities created by the state corporations only have the rights granted to them by law. They have no intrinsic rights. This is not to say that the individuals making up a corporation lose any rights at all. For example, I belong to a book club. Its members have rights, but the club has none. It has no legal status at all. If we incorporated, the club would gain some rights (and some responsibilities) but only as a legal convenience (or inconvenience).



...are you saying that legislatures have the power to create corporations in a manner that would allow governments that do not normally have the right to restrict speech could restrict theirs?

No. That's not my argument. But yes. Legislatures can (or should be able to) define corporations however they like. Again, it's a legal construct.


And if so....again, what implications does that have for corporations like the New York Times and MediaMatters and CBS?

None. Freedom of speech is an individual right. Freedom of the press, by definition, extends to newspapers (incorporated or not,) magazine and book publishers, and by extension to television and Internet news services.


In other words, how can government have the power to censor corporate speech in one context (political speech) and not have it in another - less odious - context (say, censoring movies or television programs)?

I'm not saying the government has the right to censor speech in any context.
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This is in response to the proposed amendment to the Constitution at the top of the thread that would declare that corporations (in contrast to natural persons) have no rights under the Constitution. Thus, corporations would no longer be protected under the Fifth or First Amendments.

You seem to be running out of ways to explain this.

Maybe it would be easier to talk to your bedroom furniture.
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Ugh. Again? Are we really better off if the government has the power to censor CBS's television progams? To prohibit Paramount from making movies that the government doesn't like? To prevent groups like the Sierra Club or Amnesty International from engaging in any political participation? To be able to seize all of the assets of Planned Parenthood without compensation? To ban corporate publishing and distribution of books? Really?

Sounds like chicken little to me. First, it's a real stretch to claim many of these "sky is falling" issues automatically follow from this amendment or even have anything to do with this it in some cases. Second, surely even a moderately slow attorney could imagine how to defend network programming, studio movies, grass roots activists, unjustified asset siezure, book distribution with this amendment in place. Surely.

And if I'm wrong and the government starts to censor the news, ban movies and books, thwart activists, and seize assets . . . if there are no attorneys in the world with enough brains and knowledge of the law to figure out how to defend these basic principles once this amendment passes . . . then we can work on that next.
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Ugh. Again? Are we really better off if the government has the power to censor CBS's television progams? To prohibit Paramount from making movies that the government doesn't like? To prevent groups like the Sierra Club or Amnesty International from engaging in any political participation? To be able to seize all of the assets of Planned Parenthood without compensation? To ban corporate publishing and distribution of books? Really?

Sounds like chicken little to me.


Yep. None of that stuff happened before Citizens United.
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Yep. None of that stuff happened before Citizens United.

Which would be a good comment if this thread was just about reversing Citizens United.
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Which would be a good comment if this thread was just about reversing Citizens United.

That is what it's about. Only the partisan wingnuts want to pretend that it is about something more.

Citizens United changed the way politics in America is funded in a fundamental way. Anyone who denies that is either a liar or a fool. This amendment is about explicitly reversing the ridiculous interpretation 5 partisan hacks in black robes forced on us. It is about people taking our country back from those obscene monied interests.

People are people. Corporations are not people. It really is that simple.

If our legal system needs to provide corporations with specific rights, then we need to write laws that provide them with those rights. That doesn't make them people. And opposing this amendment on the basis that corporations need specific rights is ludicrous. Pets and animals might need certain rights. That doesn't mean the Supreme Court should declare dogs and cats to be citizens. Foreign visitors need certain rights. It doesn't mean anyone visiting the US has all the rights of citizens.

Again, People are people. Corporations are not people. Five partisan hacks in black robes are obviously FOS. This amendment spells it out specifically for those too stupid to understand the difference.
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That is what it's about. Only the partisan wingnuts want to pretend that it is about something more.

Citizens United changed the way politics in America is funded in a fundamental way. Anyone who denies that is either a liar or a fool. This amendment is about explicitly reversing the ridiculous interpretation 5 partisan hacks in black robes forced on us. It is about people taking our country back from those obscene monied interests.


ROTFL. I'll bet you have zero problem with union money flowing to the democrats, do you? That brings us to the real reason you hate CU: It levels the playing field.

PS. People don't surrender their rights when they decide to get together in a thing called a "corporation" any more than when they (are forced to) join a "union".
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Citizens United changed the way politics in America is funded in a fundamental way. Anyone who denies that is either a liar or a fool. This amendment is about explicitly reversing the ridiculous interpretation 5 partisan hacks in black robes forced on us. It is about people taking our country back from those obscene monied interests.

_________________

More like fighting fire with fire, don't you think?

"....Passed on March 27, 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act forbade political parties from collecting soft money. To take some of the sting out of the soft-money prohibition, it raised the limit on individual hard-money contributions from $1,000 per candidate each year to $2,000.

However, McCain-Feingold failed to address the issue of Section 527 "stealth PACs." It did not explicitly forbid private 527s from raising soft money for electioneering purposes. This left political operatives in a quandary. Could they or couldn't they continue to raise soft money through private 527 non-profit groups? No one was sure. But the Democrats took the lead in forging ahead, despite the legal risks. Democrats reasoned that as long as the operators of 527 groups refrained from coordinating their activities directly with the candidates or political parties, and refrained from uttering the "magic words," they could raise as much money as they wanted through 527s.

Republicans disagreed. They charged that the Shadow Party was a criminal enterprise, whose activities were akin to money laundering. However, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declined to rule on the matter until after the 2004 election. The Republicans were left with no choice but to try to play catch-up. Republicans began building their own 527 network. But the Democrats had the jump on them. It was the Democrats - and George Soros in particular - who had been pushing McCain-Feingold for years. They knew its loopholes and weaknesses intimately, and were ready to exploit them the moment the law was passed"


http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/Articles/whatare527groups...

I guess that makes it pots calling kettles black.
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>Which would be a good comment if this thread was just about reversing Citizens United.

>>That is what it's about. Only the partisan wingnuts want to pretend that it is about something more... This amendment spells it out specifically for those too stupid to understand the difference.



This is what we are talking about:

"“We the People Amendment”, an amendment that clearly and unequivocally states that:
1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies...


So this amendment is about stripping any rights for corporations under the constitution. That is something that seems to go much further than Citizens United? Doesn't it SalaryGuru?
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Okay, but corporations don't have to have the same rights as people for that not to be legal. We can and do attribute certain rights, but not others, to corporations for legal convenience and economic efficiency. This should be done only when it is in the interest of society, not because corporations are people. They are not.

My point above is exactly that - it is not the least in the interest of society to declare that corporations do not have any rights under the constitution. This fixation that progressives have with the label "person" as applied to corporations and other artificial entities is self-defeating - stripping corporations of personhood within the meaning of the Constitution would destroy many of the protections that progressive cherish, and is utterly unnecessary to accomplish their goal in addressing Citizens United. During the Civil Rights movement, southern states tried to cripple the NAACP by claiming that the NAACP (as a corporation) lacked any rights under the Constitution. The Supreme Court rejected that claim; it would be very ironic indeed if progressives managed to make that argument come true.

Albaby
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"My point above is exactly that - it is not the least in the interest of society to declare that corporations do not have any rights under the constitution."

Let's go with not ALL the rights under the Constitution of a natural person, and take it from there.

Ken
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None. Freedom of speech is an individual right. Freedom of the press, by definition, extends to newspapers (incorporated or not,) magazine and book publishers, and by extension to television and Internet news services.

How do you figure? Why isn't freedom of the press an individual right?

Lets leave aside the fact the Supremes have never ruled this way - they've always held both freedoms to be roughly coextensive. Or the fact that here's no basis in the text for making the distinction that "speech" can only be claimed by persons but "press" can be claimed by non-persons.

The real problem with this argument is that when it comes to state regulation of speech, what matters is not the First Amendment, but the Fourteenth:

"[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Court has held that the protections of speech and press are a "liberty" within the meaning of the Fourteenth. But note that the Fourteenth only applies to persons. If corporations are not "persons," they cannot claim rights of speech or press vis a vis states - regardless of the text of the First.

I'm not saying the government has the right to censor speech in any context.

If you claim corporations lack the ability to assert the rights of speech and the press as persons under the Fourteenth Amendment, you most certainly are.

Albaby
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Let's go with not ALL the rights under the Constitution of a natural person, and take it from there.

Which, again, is my point from above - if you want to address Citizens United, address it, but don't have a massively overbroad amendment like the one being proposed.

Albaby
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Which, again, is my point from above - if you want to address Citizens United, address it, but don't have a massively overbroad amendment like the one being proposed.

Albaby
________________

What would be nice is to know who is really behind what and the ability to judge those that have infiltrated a particular group (on purpose) to make it look like they are wackier than they might really be.

I don't think anyone can claim that guys like Berlosconi don't have free speech and his domination of the press in Italy not only serves his interests and those backing the truck up to the central bank there.

The people there have just given up. The only ones paying attention would have been the same ones sitting in the stands when The Colleseum was at its height.

There is just something inherently wrong about intentionally misleading people. Maybe in my next life.
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Okay, but corporations don't have to have the same rights as people for that not to be legal. We can and do attribute certain rights, but not others, to corporations for legal convenience and economic efficiency. This should be done only when it is in the interest of society, not because corporations are people. They are not.

My point above is exactly that - it is not the least in the interest of society to declare that corporations do not have any rights under the constitution.


If corporations are to have rights, they should be legislated, not assumed as constitutional. People have rights, not corporations, which are, I repeat, a legal construct. Ask yourself this: should a corporation have any constitutional rights that an unincorporated group should not? The constitution enumerates the rights of persons and proscribes the infringement of these rights by the state. "Corporate personhood" is a post-constitutional (actually post Civil War) invention. It's interesting that supposed "originalists" ignore this.


This fixation that progressives have with the label "person" as applied to corporations and other artificial entities is self-defeating - stripping corporations of personhood within the meaning of the Constitution would destroy many of the protections that progressive cherish, and is utterly unnecessary to accomplish their goal in addressing Citizens United.

I doubt it. Things functioned fairly well before Citizens United. And you can reject broad constitutional corporate personhood in favor of a narrower legal corporate personhood. The former is nonsensical. The latter is necessary.


During the Civil Rights movement, southern states tried to cripple the NAACP by claiming that the NAACP (as a corporation) lacked any rights under the Constitution.

Interesting point. I'd counter that the NAACP has the same rights as all other corporations in a given state, and while those rights are not granted by the constitution, the right of equal protection under the law is a constitutional right of its members.
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Freedom of speech is an individual right. Freedom of the press, by definition, extends to newspapers (incorporated or not,) magazine and book publishers, and by extension to television and Internet news services.
---
How do you figure? Why isn't freedom of the press an individual right?


I did not say it wasn't. I said that it is constitutionally distinct from freedom of speech and that it pertains to publishers, i.e. corporations, as well as individuals.


The real problem with this argument is that when it comes to state regulation of speech, what matters is not the First Amendment, but the Fourteenth:

"[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


Yes. Note that it applies to individuals and the use of the word "person."


But note that the Fourteenth only applies to persons. If corporations are not "persons," they cannot claim rights of speech or press vis a vis states - regardless of the text of the First.

Corporations are not people so I'd argue they cannot, as corporations, claim the rights of free speech. As to free press, the 14th does not trump the 1st.


I'm not saying the government has the right to censor speech in any context.
---
If you claim corporations lack the ability to assert the rights of speech and the press as persons under the Fourteenth Amendment, you most certainly are./i>

I disagree. People, who are members of corporations, never lose their right to free speech. So a CEO's right to free speech, even on behalf of the corporation, cannot be abridged. This may be a small distinction, but the difference is significant. The corporation itself is not a person and therefore does not have the "natural rights" ennumerated in the constitutional. (Corporations are decidedly unnatural creations.) However, corporations may have and should have rights granted legislatively, such as "corporate personhood" with respect to property rights, lawsuits, etc.
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>This fixation that progressives have with the label "person" as applied to corporations and other artificial entities is self-defeating - stripping corporations of personhood within the meaning of the Constitution would destroy many of the protections that progressive cherish, and is utterly unnecessary to accomplish their goal in addressing Citizens United.

>>I doubt it. Things functioned fairly well before Citizens United.



Fun thread.

First a post saying all constitutional rights should be taken away from any "non-person" entity.

Then rebuttals that you might want to change Citizens United, but not take away all constitutional rights of corporations.

Then counter arguments saying that we should because things would function well before Citizens United.

We should all not waste our life, or xlife, running in these circles.
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If corporations are to have rights, they should be legislated, not assumed as constitutional. People have rights, not corporations, which are, I repeat, a legal construct. Ask yourself this: should a corporation have any constitutional rights that an unincorporated group should not? The constitution enumerates the rights of persons and proscribes the infringement of these rights by the state. "Corporate personhood" is a post-constitutional (actually post Civil War) invention. It's interesting that supposed "originalists" ignore this.

Yes, a corporation should have rights under the Constitution. A corporation deserves the rights of due process, equal protection, and protection of seizure against assets. Those rights inhere to the functions that are granted to a corporation - the power to sue and be sued, the pwoer to enter contracts, and the power to own property. The prohibitions in the Constitution on restricting freedom of speech and the press are restrictions on government, without regard to who is doing the speaking or writing. If you give a corporation the power to speak, you give that corporation the power to speak freely.

We see this in the Court's "property" jurisdiction, in determining what constitutes "property" covered by the Fifth Amendment. Essentially, the Court looks to state law - anything that the state creates as a property interest is protected from uncompensated Taking. States cannot create a property interest that does not automatically carry with it the right to be free from seizure. Similarly, states cannot enable entities to own property in their own capacity without automatically conferring on those entities the protections of due process against that property being seized.

I doubt it. Things functioned fairly well before Citizens United. And you can reject broad constitutional corporate personhood in favor of a narrower legal corporate personhood. The former is nonsensical. The latter is necessary.

Exactly - things functioned well before Citizens United, because everyone understood that corporations were protected by the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. That's what you're suggesting is wrong. It is worth noting that no one on the Court - including the dissenters - argued that Citizen United was not protected by the First Amendment merely because it was a corporation.

Interesting point. I'd counter that the NAACP has the same rights as all other corporations in a given state, and while those rights are not granted by the constitution, the right of equal protection under the law is a constitutional right of its members.

So what? The NAACP is not its members. It is an entity separate from its members. If the NAACP is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment, then Alabama is not required to afford it due process, not required to let it engage in any speech or writing, and it is certainly not required to give it any kind of equal protection.

Remember, for this 'solution' to have any teeth, and change the result of Citizens United, at the end of the day you have to give the government the power to prohibit certain kinds of corporate speech. That means you have to maintain the legal distinction between the corporation and the individuals that are its shareholders, employees, and officers - who clearly have unlimited First Amendment/Fourteenth Amendment rights. That goes for the NAACP and CBS and AMC Theaters as much as it does for groups like Citizens United.

Albaby
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I did not say it wasn't. I said that it is constitutionally distinct from freedom of speech and that it pertains to publishers, i.e. corporations, as well as individuals.

Why? Why do corporate publishers have the right to "press," but corporate speakers not have the right to "speech"? The text draws no distinction between the two; both are expressed as restrictions on Congress, without regard to who the speaker or publisher is.

Corporations are not people so I'd argue they cannot, as corporations, claim the rights of free speech. As to free press, the 14th does not trump the 1st.

Okay, we need to go back to one basic concept in Constitutional law:

The First Amendment applies only to the Federal government.

Indeed, that's true of all of the protections in the Bill of Rights - they apply only to federal action. The reason that those protections also apply to states is because of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court has developed a concept of "incorporation," where the term "liberty" in the Fourteenth Amendment is deemed to include some (though not all) of the rights included in the Bill of Rights.

If you're not covered by the Fourteenth Amendment - ie. if you're not a person - you do not have any of the rights in the Bill of Rights as against state government. This is not a question of the Fourteenth "trupming" the First, but that you don't get the protections of the First without meeting the requirements of the Fourteenth.

I disagree. People, who are members of corporations, never lose their right to free speech. So a CEO's right to free speech, even on behalf of the corporation, cannot be abridged. This may be a small distinction, but the difference is significant. The corporation itself is not a person and therefore does not have the "natural rights" ennumerated in the constitutional. (Corporations are decidedly unnatural creations.) However, corporations may have and should have rights granted legislatively, such as "corporate personhood" with respect to property rights, lawsuits, etc.

Of course you're advocating for the power to censor. Most - I would argue that the vast majority - of speech in this country is made by corporations, not their officers. Will and Grace, the Washington Post, Toy Story 3, the NBC Nightly News - these are all corporate speech in exactly the same way as the pay-per-view movie at issue in Citizens United. If you're advocating a view of corporate rights that would give the government the power to prohibit the political speech at issue in Citizens based on the identity of the speaker, by necessity you're also giving government the power to prohibit any of the other speech that is made by corporations.

Albaby
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My point above is exactly that - it is not the least in the interest of society to declare that corporations do not have any rights under the constitution.

True enough.

Firstly, a lot of people, myself include, understand that the campaign process is being negatively impacted by the vast sums of money that a corporation can funnel into campaigns.

Secondly, there are substantial differences between Exxon and Surfrider. http://www.surfrider.org/
This difference needs to be acknowledged in law.

That a multinational corporation can misrepresent who it is, overwhelming a small local campaign in Idaho, with nobody knowing where the money is coming from.... it's just wrong.

It absolutely subverts democracy.

How should the "We The People" be reworded to prevent this subversion of campaigns?
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Why? Why do corporate publishers have the right to "press," but corporate speakers not have the right to "speech"? The text draws no distinction between the two; both are expressed as restrictions on Congress, without regard to who the speaker or publisher is.

Two things:

1) Publishers have a right to "press" because the First Amendment specifically prohibits abridging the freedom of the "press." That's similar to, but distinct from "speech."

2) I did not say corporate speakers have no right to free speech. Corporate speakers are people. I said corporations should have no such right. They are legal abstractions, not people. This may seem a small distinction, but it is significant.

About the 14th: I understand all that already.


Of course you're advocating for the power to censor.

No. I am not. And until you understand that, there's no sense in continuing the conversation.
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Secondly, there are substantial differences between Exxon and Surfrider. http://www.surfrider.org/
This difference needs to be acknowledged in law.


Are you saying that an organization that provides 100,000 families with their livelihood should be given more preference than an organization that allows a small amount of people a place to do surfing?
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If corporations are to have rights, they should be legislated, not assumed as constitutional. People have rights, not corporations, which are, I repeat, a legal construct. Ask yourself this: should a corporation have any constitutional rights that an unincorporated group should not?
---
Yes, a corporation should have rights under the Constitution.


That wasn't the question.
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1) Publishers have a right to "press" because the First Amendment specifically prohibits abridging the freedom of the "press." That's similar to, but distinct from "speech."

But you haven't addressed why corporations that publish have the right to the freedom of the press, but corporations that speak don't have the right to freedom of speech.

Plus, if you draw this distinction, you're probably erasing any of the effects that you are trying to accomplish. The showing of a film (like the movie in Citizens United) would be publication, as would taking out advertisements in newspapers and such. If corporations are free to do this under the "press" exemption without limitation, then you've undone any campaign finance prohibition.

I did not say corporate speakers have no right to free speech. Corporate speakers are people. I said corporations should have no such right. They are legal abstractions, not people. This may seem a small distinction, but it is significant.

About the 14th: I understand all that already.


Then I don't understand your reasoning. When I say "corporate speakers," mean corporations that are engaged in speech (not their spokespeople as individuals). How do corporations have the right to free speech if they are not "persons" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment?

No. I am not. And until you understand that, there's no sense in continuing the conversation.

You are advocating for the power to censor corporations - you just don't admit it.

If you eliminate the status of corporations as "persons" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, then you give states the power to censor any corporation that they want. Do you disagree with that statement?

Albaby
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That wasn't the question.

An unincorporated group is not an entity. A corporation (as well as partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, and other artificial entities) should have rights that come with its status as a legal entity separate from its members. By definition, an unincorporated group does not have any status separate from its members, and thus there is no way that it can have rights separate from its members.

Albaby
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An unincorporated group is not an entity.

What does that mean?

And it's still not an answer. Why do you believe incorporated groups have rights like a person, but unincorporated groups do not?



A corporation (as well as partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, and other artificial entities) should have rights that come with its status as a legal entity separate from its members.

I know you believe that, but I'm asking "why?" More specifically, why do some "artificial entities" deserve constitutional rights equivalent to real live people whereas some other "artificial entities" do not?



By definition, an unincorporated group does not have any status separate from its members...

Legal status, as in a status granted by the state. This is what I meant by saying corporations are creations of the state. Consider the ramifications of your thinking. Two identical groups, one incorporated, one not. This is simply a matter of paperwork. You're saying one group has the same constitutional rights as a person, independent of its members, but the other does not. Therefore the corporate rights are based on paperwork, not principle.
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Secondly, there are substantial differences between Exxon and Surfrider. http://www.surfrider.org/
This difference needs to be acknowledged in law.

Are you saying that an organization that provides 100,000 families with their livelihood should be given more preference than an organization that allows a small amount of people a place to do surfing?


If you think the a healthy environment is inconsequential, that only surfers benefit from a healthy ocean, then I suppose that can be your takeaway.

Yes, you go with that, StPatrick.
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I know you believe that, but I'm asking "why?" More specifically, why do some "artificial entities" deserve constitutional rights equivalent to real live people whereas some other "artificial entities" do not?

What "artificial entities" do not have these rights? Unincorporated groups have no separate legal functions apart from those of their individuals (here, I'm using "unincorporated" as a shorthand for groups that lack any of the formal organization of corporations, trusts, LLC's or LLP's, etc.). They cannot own property, they cannot enter into contracts, they cannot sue or be sued - they have no existence independent of their members.

Corporations (again, shorthand for all of the artificial entities) do have separate legal existence. They own property in their own name; they enter contracts in their own name; they can sue and be sued in their own name. With that separate legal existence comes the right to assert (in court) the inherent limits on governmental authority - the inability to regulate speech, the inability to seize private property, etc.

Legal status, as in a status granted by the state. This is what I meant by saying corporations are creations of the state. Consider the ramifications of your thinking. Two identical groups, one incorporated, one not. This is simply a matter of paperwork. You're saying one group has the same constitutional rights as a person, independent of its members, but the other does not. Therefore the corporate rights are based on paperwork, not principle.

Not merely paperwork - it is the actual legal creation of a separate entity distinct from its members. The two groups are not identical beyond a matter of "paperwork." Indeed, the corporation is not a group of members. The corporation is a separate entity that is distinct from the members. There is a very deep and important principle of having a separate legal entity, one that is distinct from the members of a group either individually or collectively.

Albaby
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albaby: Corporations (again, shorthand for all of the artificial entities) do have separate legal existence. They own property in their own name; they enter contracts in their own name; they can sue and be sued in their own name.

The justice system wields just a few punishments for convicted people: fines, jail and execution.

Show me a corporation that's doing time behind prison bars, unable to continue doing 'business as usual' until paroled .
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The justice system wields just a few punishments for convicted people: fines, jail and execution.

Show me a corporation that's doing time behind prison bars, unable to continue doing 'business as usual' until paroled .


I'm not sure how that's relevant. Corporations differ from natural persons in key respects - notably, they do not have a single corporeal "body" that can be locked in a prison. They have discrete legal existence, but it is not one that can be physically confined. That doesn't mean that government therefore is unrestrained in the powers that it can exercise against corporations, such as censoring them or taking their property without due process or compensation.

Albaby
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XL: Thanks for playing

You would use a phrase this trite with Albaby?
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Corporations (again, shorthand for all of the artificial entities) do have separate legal existence.

I know and agree. That's sort of my point. Their existence is the product of a legal process and recognition by the state, which grants or denies corporate charters. Therefore this legal entity's rights are endowed by the state, not by "the creator" or whatever notion of "natural rights" you prefer. They are not intrinsic rights, like those of real people.

The notion of "corporate personhood" is a convenient and useful legal fiction (or metaphor, if you prefer) that should apply only insofar as it is societally useful. For example it is extremely useful that corporations can enter contracts, sue and be sued as one legal entity. I'd argue that while it may be convenient that corporations can finance political campaigns, it is corrosive of democracy and therefore undesirable.

But the question isn't really whether corporations should or should not have this or that right. It's whether corporations have the same constitutional rights as people. I'm arguing they do not, but that in many cases, these rights should be afforded corporations through legislation or flow from the individual rights of a corporation's membership to the corporation. (Property rights would be an example of this. The uncompensated taking of property by the state deprives each individual shareholder of her share of that property, thereby violating her constitutional rights. The restriction of corporate speech, in contrast, does not deprive a shareholder of free speech rights.)


Not merely paperwork - it is the actual legal creation of a separate entity distinct from its members.

Yes, but only because of the paperwork.

The corporation is a separate entity that is distinct from the members.

Correct. It is a concept, a legal abstraction created by the state to make investment, commerce and many other things more efficient. It is not a person.
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XL: Thanks for playing
---
You would use a phrase this trite with Albaby?


I think I did already. :^)
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But the question isn't really whether corporations should or should not have this or that right. It's whether corporations have the same constitutional rights as people. I'm arguing they do not, but that in many cases, these rights should be afforded corporations through legislation or flow from the individual rights of a corporation's membership to the corporation. (Property rights would be an example of this. The uncompensated taking of property by the state deprives each individual shareholder of her share of that property, thereby violating her constitutional rights. The restriction of corporate speech, in contrast, does not deprive a shareholder of free speech rights.)

The question is whether corporations can claim protections against state action under the Fourteenth Amendment. If the answer is "no," then the state may deny that corporation due process, censor the corporation, and take their property without just compensation. It is not a metaphor or legal fiction. If a corporation is not a "person" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendments, then none of the protections of the Bill of Rights are available to corporations - speech, press, property ownership, due process, and everything else.

You're wrong that if the state takes property from a corporation, the shareholder can assert a takings claim against the state. Owning a share in the corporation does not give you a proportional property interest in the assets of the corporation. The corporation is a separate entity from the shareholder; the shareholder cannot assert a claim if the state seizes a car or a building owned by the corporation.

Yes, but only because of the paperwork.

No, not only because of the paperwork. Because of a very large number of laws that create corporations, trusts, partnerships, and other artificial entities as separate legal units, distinct from their shareholders and/or beneficiaries. Because corporations have obligations that are separate from their individual members - they pay their own taxes, have their own record-keeping obligations, have to denote agents for service of process, etc.

Albaby
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Show me a corporation that's doing time behind prison bars, unable to continue doing 'business as usual' until paroled .

I'm not sure how that's relevant. Corporations differ from natural persons in key respects -

TA DAAAAA!

You are correct. They differ in that they lack a body that can be punished. Ya can't hang it, ya can't jail it, and ya can't make it wear an orange vest and pick up litter on the interstate.

They are artifices. There are many kinds of artificies that should have regulations unique to them.

Please advise the Supremes that corps are artificial entities, not people.
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The question is whether corporations can claim protections against state action under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Boy the 14th Amendment is a real bundle of fun, isn't it? And a great example of the law of unintended consequences. Here we have an constitutional amendment intended to make sure that Southern states granted freed slaves citizenship and treat them as more or less equal to other citizens. And now it's being used to defend the idea that corporations have the same rights as people.
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Corporations differ from natural persons in key respects...

Exactly.

Sano beat me too it, but TA-DA!
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Please advise the Supremes that corps are artificial entities, not people.

Why?

You're making a circular argument. Corporations are not human beings, therefore they cannot be 'persons' within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. As proof, you argue that they lack one of the characteristics of natural human beings. But that begs the question - can an entity that is not a natural human being be a 'person' for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment? The Supreme Court has concluded that they can be.

Albaby
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Boy the 14th Amendment is a real bundle of fun, isn't it? And a great example of the law of unintended consequences. Here we have an constitutional amendment intended to make sure that Southern states granted freed slaves citizenship and treat them as more or less equal to other citizens. And now it's being used to defend the idea that corporations have the same rights as people.

Yes - but we like all those 'unintended consequences.' Here we have a constitutional amendment that is now the sole constitutional basis for keeping states from outlawing abortions, establishing churches, preventing taking of private property without compensation, and limiting the free speech of their citizens (to name a few). All things that are well outside the purposes you cite above. But we cherish those protections.

My whole argument here is that you can't eliminate the ability of corporations to claim protections under the Fourteenth Amendment and pretend that the only impact will be to allow the regulation of campaign ads. Once you take corporations outside the protection of the 14th, then all of those constitutional protections go away - with disastrous consequences for a whole lot of values that we hold dear, since most speech and popular culture takes place through the corporate form. We have come to rely on the fact that all of the corporations that publish our newspapers, make our televisions shows, broadcast the news, publish books, etc. are protected from state censorship through the Fourteenth Amendment. That's why it is folly to pursue that approach, rather than a more tailored one.

Albaby
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I think the following idea is too important to be parenthetical, so I'll break it out again here:

Property rights would be an example of this [how some constitutional rights of individuals are tied to the corporation they are a member of and others are not.] The uncompensated taking of a corporation's property by the state deprives each individual shareholder of her share of that property, thereby violating her constitutional rights. The restriction of corporate speech, in contrast, does not deprive a shareholder of free speech rights.

People can vote. Corporations can't. "Depriving" a corporation of the right to vote no more disenfranchises its members than restricting a corporation's speech abridges its shareholders' rights to free speech.

In fact, and in practice, most shareholders have little or no involvement or control at all over corporate speech.
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My whole argument here is that you can't eliminate the ability of corporations to claim protections under the Fourteenth Amendment and pretend that the only impact will be to allow the regulation of campaign ads.

Oh. Okay. I don't think that would be the only effect, so we're in agreement on this, at least.


Once you take corporations outside the protection of the 14th, then all of those constitutional protections go away - with disastrous consequences for a whole lot of values that we hold dear, since most speech and popular culture takes place through the corporate form.

This is where we disagree. I don't think it's that simple. As I've said already, the "freedom of the press" is a different question apart from "corporate personhood" and protected in its own right. And by "press" I mean all forms of mass communication - print, radio, TV and Internet.

Of course, I suppose ExxonMobile or whoever could buy its own newspapers and TV stations, promote it's political interests and claim protection under the 1st without the fiction of "corporate personhood." I'd argue that that's preferable to unrestricted financing of political candidates.
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People can vote. Corporations can't. "Depriving" a corporation of the right to vote no more disenfranchises its members than restricting a corporation's speech abridges its shareholders' rights to free speech.

In fact, and in practice, most shareholders have little or no involvement or control at all over corporate speech.


Which makes sense, since the corporation is a separate legal entity from the shareholders (either collectively or as a group). Restricting a corporation's speech is a deprivation of the corporation's right to free speech, not its shareholders. Or instead, it is a violation of the government's inherent lack of power to censor speech, which the corporation (like other parties) may assert and seek relief from.

If the government decides to censor the NBC Nightly News, it is infringing on the rights of the corporation that is producing that broadcast - not the rights of the shareholders of Comcast or Universal. The fact that all those millions of shareholders still retain their own free speech rights is cold comfort for those who are concerned that the NBC Nightly News has been censored because, as a corporate product, it is outside of the protections of the constitution.

Albaby
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As I've said already, the "freedom of the press" is a different question apart from "corporate personhood" and protected in its own right. And by "press" I mean all forms of mass communication - print, radio, TV and Internet.

I know, but I can't understand how you conclude that it is a different question. "Corporate personhood" is shorthand reference for the claim that corporations can claim the rights that inhere to "persons" under the Constitution. As applied to states (if not the federal government), the protections of both the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are limited to persons, who are the only ones protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. If corporations are not 'persons,' then they can no more claim the freedom of the press than the freedom of speech (or indeed any liberty interest under the Fourteenth).

Albaby

P.S. If "press" means all those things, and corporations still have freedom of the press, then how does this help? Campaign ads are mostly creatures of television - if television is "press," then corporations would be protected in the campaign ads that they publish. They don't have to own the newspapers or TV stations - it's still "press."
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Which makes sense, since the corporation is a separate legal entity from the shareholders (either collectively or as a group). Restricting a corporation's speech is a deprivation of the corporation's right to free speech, not its shareholders.

That's circular. We're arguing over whether corporations should have that constitutional right. My point is that the restriction of a corporation's speech does not deprive it's constituents of free speech rights whereas the deprivation of a corporation's property rights does.


If the government decides to censor the NBC Nightly News, it is infringing on the rights of the corporation that is producing that broadcast...

A red herring. NBC Nightly News is part of the "press," which is specifically protected in the Constitution irrespective of whether it is a corporation or not.
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People can vote. Corporations can't.
People are citizens. Corporations aren't.


Frankly, I am supremely impressed with your patience, Albaby.
I would long ago have written off the poster as a neo-Jacobin bent on the destruction of society.
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As proof, you argue that they lack one of the characteristics of natural human beings.

I can argue others.

They need not die like a human being.

They can dissolve and recorporate, thus avoiding responsibility. A human being cannot do that.

The Supreme Court has concluded that they can be.

The Supreme Court made a bad decision.

Look, you can "beg" questions, you can make endless convoluted arguments, but at the end of the day, we have a big problem in that corporations are harming the democratic process.

Lawyers got us into this predicament.

How are they gonna get us out of it?
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That's circular. We're arguing over whether corporations should have that constitutional right. My point is that the restriction of a corporation's speech does not deprive it's constituents of free speech rights whereas the deprivation of a corporation's property rights does.

No, it does not. Seizing the property of a corporation deprives the corporation of its property rights - not its shareholders. The shareholders do not own the property, the corporation does.

A red herring. NBC Nightly News is part of the "press," which is specifically protected in the Constitution irrespective of whether it is a corporation or not.

Why is it protected irrespective if it is a corporation or not? As pointed out numerous times above, the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of the press do not apply directly to the states - the Fourteenth Amendment does. The Fourteenth provides that protection only to persons. If a corporation is not a person, then it has no constitutional protection of freedom of the press as against state governments.

Albaby
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How are they gonna get us out of it?

They're not. This "predicament" is the foundation for having a free and vibrant press. If companies like the New York Times and Viacom and MediaMatters and Greenpeace were subject to state censorship simply because they were corporations, America would be a much darker place.

No one in Citizens United - not even the liberal branch of the Court - disagreed with the proposition that the movie in question was speech within the meaning of the First Amendment, even though it was produced by a corporation. No one.

Albaby
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P.S. If "press" means all those things, and corporations still have freedom of the press, then how does this help? Campaign ads are mostly creatures of television - if television is "press," then corporations would be protected in the campaign ads that they publish.

Okay. I have no problems with corporations spending money on ads, as long as they're not fraudulent and are identified as corporate ads.
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No, it does not. Seizing the property of a corporation deprives the corporation of its property rights - not its shareholders. The shareholders do not own the property, the corporation does.

You want to get all technical about it? A share is a claim on the company's assets. Shareholders are part owners of the company and therefore part owners of the company's assets.


Why is it protected irrespective if it is a corporation or not?

Because it's the "press." A newspaper or TV station need not be incorporated to enjoy freedom of the press. (This raises an interesting question about individual blogs. Are they member of the "press" or not?)
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You want to get all technical about it? A share is a claim on the company's assets. Shareholders are part owners of the company and therefore part owners of the company's assets.

No, they are not. A shareholder is not a part owner of the company's assets. A shareholder owns a share of the company, and the company owns the assets - this does not mean that the shareholder has any ownership interest in the assets. If you tried to bring a claim under the Fifth Amendment based on the government seizing an asset of a company you own shares in, you would be thrown out of court immediately.

Because it's the "press." A newspaper or TV station need not be incorporated to enjoy freedom of the press. (This raises an interesting question about individual blogs. Are they member of the "press" or not?)

One more time - there is no protection of the press in the Constitution as it applies to states. None. Zero. What there is is the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from denying liberty to persons without due process. That provision has been construed as incorporating the First Amendment - but again, only as it applies to persons.

If a newspaper or a TV station is a corporation, and that corporation is not a 'person' within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, it has no freedom of the press vis-a-vis state censorship.

Albaby

(still leaving aside the fact that "press" and "speech" are treated similarly in the First, and therefore anything that excluded corporations from the latter would exclude them from the former)
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If you claim corporations lack the ability to assert the rights of speech and the press as persons under the Fourteenth Amendment, you most certainly are.

Since you think none of these things were true until the passage of the 14th amendment, can you cite examples from the first 75 years of the Republic (the 14th amendment passed 1868) that make that argument important today? And if it wasn't happening during those 75 years, what makes you think that it will happen now?
 
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Since you think none of these things were true until the passage of the 14th amendment, can you cite examples from the first 75 years of the Republic (the 14th amendment passed 1868) that make that argument important today? And if it wasn't happening during those 75 years, what makes you think that it will happen now?

It was happening during those 75 years (and thereafter, until the Supreme Court held that the First applied to States through the 14th Amendment in Gitlow v. New York in 1925). States and local governments frequently banned books and speech that they didn't like - hence the colloquialism "banned in Boston." In Gitlow, the banned tract was a political manifesto of the socialist party, for which a sentence of 5-10 years was carried out.

Even after Gitlow, states continued to press the boundaries of restricting speech - resulting in landmark free speech cases in front of the court. Near v. Minnesota overturned a state ban on "malicious, scandalous or defamatory newspapers" - that's right, banning newspapers with criminal sanctions. In 1952, the Court struck down New York's law that banned the commercial showing of movies that it deemed "sacriligeous" (Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson). In 1964, the Court had to slap Ohio when it tried to ban The Lovers from commercial showing (leading to Potter Stewart's famous line about pornography that "I know it when I see it.")

So yes - I believe that state and local governments are ready to start banning speech with sexual content, that they deem sacreligous, or just don't promote certain values.

Albaby
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So yes - I believe that state and local governments are ready to start banning speech with sexual content, that they deem sacreligous, or just don't promote certain values.

They could try, but lotta' good it'd do them. We're long past the days of confiscating copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover from bookstores. Use the Google to search "porn" and you'll quickly see what I mean. The Interwebs have changed everything.

Besides, "speech" is always the product of a human being, even if it's published by a corporation. Corporations, having neither bodies nor brains, can't speak. They can't even write or type.
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Besides, "speech" is always the product of a human being, even if it's published by a corporation. Corporations, having neither bodies nor brains, can't speak. They can't even write or type.

As are political ads. Yet the idea behind this amendment is that if corporate personhood is removed, the government will be able to restrict political advertisements. But if those advertisements are the "speech" of the individuals that are in them, rather than the corporations that are actually publishing them, then removing corporate personhood would not affect political campaign advertisements.

Instead, such speech is properly considered to be the speech of the corporation. When NBCNews produces an episode of the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams isn't the speaker - he's there in his capacity as an employee of the corporation. So too the writers, producers, camera crews, and other correspondents. The "speech" is the product of (and owned by) the corporation, not the individuals. Corporations cannot write or type, but they have employees that do - and when they do so as agents of the corporation, their actions are those of the corporation.

Albaby
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...the idea behind this amendment is that if corporate personhood is removed, the government will be able to restrict political advertisements. But if those advertisements are the "speech" of the individuals that are in them, rather than the corporations that are actually publishing them, then removing corporate personhood would not affect political campaign advertisements.

Maybe. Maybe not. That's not my concern.

Instead, such speech is properly considered to be the speech of the corporation.

Sez you.

When NBCNews produces an episode of the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams isn't the speaker - he's there in his capacity as an employee of the corporation.

I wish you'd stop bringing up TV shows and newspapers. They are "the press" and protected separately.
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Maybe. Maybe not. That's not my concern.

Fair enough, but it's the purpose of the amendment that started the thread - to reduce the power of corporate advertising in political campaigns.

I wish you'd stop bringing up TV shows and newspapers. They are "the press" and protected separately.

They're not protected separately when it comes to state censorship! For purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, if you're not a person, you don't have either freedom of the press or freedom of speech vis-a-vis state governments!

Albaby
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States and local governments frequently banned books and speech that they didn't like - hence the colloquialism "banned in Boston."

"Banned in Boston" is indeed the colloquialism for such activities. As it turns out, that happened in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, long after the 14th Amendment supposedly put a stop to it. And it didn't, for at least 75 years (and even then it took the unlikeliest and desperately unpopular Supreme Court to do anything about it.)

I'm not advocating the repeal of the 14th Amendment, obviously, but I do think there are ways to separate the "rights" of human beings and those of artificial legal constructs without making it seem the world is ending.

And that's exactly what should happen. With rights come responsibilities, but we have given corporations the rights but ask for nothing in return. When corporations start going to jail - instead of incurring meaningless fines - for clearly criminal behavior, perhaps I'll change my tune. Until then, figure out why politics needs so much money, why it has to be secret, and why there shouldn't be some sort of reasonable limit on it. Money is not speech. Money is money. Speech is speech. I can't imagine where we ever came up with the ridiculous idea that one is the same as the other.

Yes, corporations should be put in jail. Out of business for a defined period of time for transgressions. Management should be swept clean, shareholders penalized, perhaps a caretaken administration put in place for the duration, or not, I don't care. When a human goes to jail their life is usually pretty well ruined. Why should the corporation be allowed to go on just as they were before when a human being can't?
 
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They're not protected separately when it comes to state censorship! For purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, if you're not a person, you don't have either freedom of the press or freedom of speech vis-a-vis state governments!

Well, then corporations are screwed then because they're not persons. They can be treated as people under the law though.
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Well, then corporations are screwed then because they're not persons. They can be treated as people under the law though.

Corporations wouldn't be screwed - we would all be screwed, because (as noted upthread) this would allow censorship of virtually every newspaper, magazine, television show, film, or almost any other published work. That's probably why none of the justices on the Supreme Court - not even the liberal ones - questioned the rights of corporations to engage in speech, or that such fell within the ambit of the First Amendment. And that's why proposals to exclude corporations from the protections of the Constitution are ill-considered and extremely dangerous.

Albaby
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And if Dope and WuLong were voicing their concern based upon this point, then I agree with them as well...
Finally managed to find a link (I know there should be more).
Surprisingly, it was in response to you...

Can corporations own property? If you say yes, then you immediately incorporate all property rights, including the right to defend said property through due process. This ability to defend in turn requires the right to petition the government - which is to say lobbying. This in turn means freedom of speech.

So seriously, where do you apply the limit?

http://boards.fool.com/bill-i-keep-trying-to-figure-out-a-wa...
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