Person, State or Not: The Place of Business Corporations in Our Constitutional Order

77 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2015

Date Written: August 17, 2015


Business corporations are critical institutions in our democratic republican market-based economic order. The United States Constitution, however, is completely silent as to their status in our system. The Supreme Court has filled this silence by repeatedly granting corporations rights against the citizenry and its elected representatives.

Instead, we ought to view business corporations, like municipal corporations, as governance structures created by We the People to promote our general Welfare. On this social contract view, corporations should have the constitutional rights specified in the constitutional text: none. Instead, we should be debating which rights of citizens against governmental agencies should also apply to these state-like governance institutions.

Keywords: Corporate constitutional rights, speech, corporate governance, corporate electioneering, Citizens United, corporate personhood, Santa Clara, democracy, money in politics

JEL Classification: K2, K22

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Daniel J.H., Person, State or Not: The Place of Business Corporations in Our Constitutional Order (August 17, 2015). University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 2, No. 87, 2015; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-09. Available at SSRN:

Daniel J.H. Greenwood (Contact Author)

Hofstra University College of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-7013 (Phone)


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