Is Constitutional Doctrine the Source of Corporate Rights?

6 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2020

Date Written: 2018


We the Corporations, Adam Winkler’s terrific history of the constitutional rights of corporations in America, does not have a surprise ending, but it does have what many readers will probably experience as a surprise beginning. Corporations, the reader learns, did not co-opt the language of the Constitution and civil rights for their nefarious purposes—not recently, nor even in the Gilded Age. On the contrary, (white colonial) America literally began as a consequence of the actions of two corporations: the Virginia Company and the Massachusetts Bay Company. Moreover, many of the key rights we now take for granted as the province of natural persons were first won by corporations.

Keywords: We the Corporations, Adam Winkler, Constitutional RIghts, Corporations, Colonial, the Constitution, Gilded Age, Virginia Company, Massachusetts Bay Company, natural persons

Suggested Citation

Dorf, Michael C., Is Constitutional Doctrine the Source of Corporate Rights? (2018). Boston University Law Review, Vol. 98, No. 59, 2018, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper , Available at SSRN:

Michael C. Dorf (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States


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