Of Metaphors and Magic Wands: Are Corporations Really People?

49 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by Kenneth D. Chestek

Kenneth D. Chestek

University of Wyoming College of Law

Date Written: January 15, 2019


The metaphor that corporations are people has been around for at least 150 years. While the metaphor that money is speech is more recent, both metaphors conceal some basic problems. Yet both metaphors are implicitly used in Supreme Court jurisprudence, most infamously in the 2010 Citizens United decision.

This paper challenges both metaphors, and suggests new ones: corporations are tools, and money is a megaphone. If we use those metaphors to think about the corrupting influence of money in our political system, perhaps we could get to more sensible decisions.

The paper ends with a survey of current efforts around the country to overturn Citizens United through an amendment to the United States Constitution.

Keywords: corporations, people, money, speech, tool, megaphone, Citizens United, legal fiction, metaphor, metonym

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K49

Suggested Citation

Chestek, Kenneth D., Of Metaphors and Magic Wands: Are Corporations Really People? (January 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316414 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3316414

Kenneth D. Chestek (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 3035
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.uwyo.edu/law/directory/kenneth-chestek.html

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