Friday, September 24, 2010

Eliminating Corporate Constitutional Rights Against Us

  • Eliminating Corporate Constitutional Prerogatives Against The People

  • To restrain corporate constitutional rights more generally -- the goal of the misnamed "corporate personhood" movement -- requires reversing the Court's presumption that corporations are more like citizens than government: that like individual citizens, they need protection from the potentially overbearing power of the state, and that unlike the state, they are not power centers themselves. In fact, however, major corporations are, like the state, collective organizations with great power for good or ill and plenty of opportunities for abuse of that power. We need Freedom of Speech or Due Process rights against major corporations far more than they need such rights against us. The following Constitutional amendment makes clear that major corporations in fact pose the same threats of overreaching as the state itself.
    • Any corporation which employs more than 1000 employees, or which has any security issued, outstanding and held by more than 100 people, or which has annual revenue exceeding $10 million, shall be deemed a "state actor" for purposes of the Constitution and shall not be entitled to claim rights under this Constitution except to the extent that state agencies are.
    This text reverses the presumption that public corporations are "private" and so not bound by the Constitution but entitled to claim rights under it against the government. Instead, it creates a presumption that the legislature may regulate public corporations much as it regulates other state agencies, such as the IRS or the EPA or municipal governments, and that human beings have the same rights against public corporations that they do against state actors such as the DMV or the municipal water company: minimum rights to due process, free speech, equal protection, privacy, non-discrimination and so on.
    On first principles, characterizing corporations in this way should be within the common law police power of any state, or the Commerce Clause and XIV Amendment enforcement powers of the Congress. Corporations, after all, exist only by action of the state; they are not pre-legal beings with existences of their own. However, the notion of corporate constitutional rights is deeply embedded in the precedents; the Court may insist that a change of this degree be made by Constitutional amendment.

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