Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1873158
 
 

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So What If Corporations Aren't People?


Ilya Shapiro


Cato Institute

Caitlyn W. McCarthy


Cato Institute

June 27, 2011

John Marshall Law Review, 2011

Abstract:     
Corporate participation in public discourse has long been a controversial issue, one that was reignited by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010). Much of the criticism of Citizens United stems from the claim that the Constitution does not protect corporations because they are not "real" people. While it's true that corporations aren't human beings, that truism is constitutionally irrelevant because corporations are formed by individuals as a means of exercising their constitutionally protected rights. When individuals pool their resources and speak under the legal fiction of a corporation, they do not lose their rights. It cannot be any other way; in a world where corporations are not entitled to constitutional protections, the police would be free to storm office buildings and seize computers or documents. The mayor of New York City could exercise eminent domain over Rockefeller Center by fiat and without compensation if he decides he'd like to move his office there. Moreover, the government would be able to censor all corporate speech, including that of so-called media corporations. In short, rights-bearing individuals do not forfeit those rights when they associate in groups. This essay will demonstrate why the common argument that corporations lack rights because they aren't people demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of both the nature of corporations and the First Amendment.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: Citizens United, First Amendment, corporate rights, individual rights

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Date posted: June 27, 2011 ; Last revised: December 14, 2011

Suggested Citation

Shapiro, Ilya and McCarthy, Caitlyn W., So What If Corporations Aren't People? (June 27, 2011). John Marshall Law Review, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1873158

Contact Information

Ilya Shapiro (Contact Author)
Cato Institute ( email )
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States
202-218-4600 (Phone)
202-842-3490 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.cato.org/people/ilya-shapiro
Caitlyn W. McCarthy
Cato Institute ( email )
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States
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