Argument: Corporations are legal creations; no individual rights

Issue Report: Corporate personhood


John Marshall, one of the most famous and respected Chief Justices in US history, wrote in 1819 that corporations are “an artificial being, invisible, intangible. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it, either expressly, or as incidental to its very existence.”

“The Court’s Blow to Democracy.” New York Times. January 21, 2010: “Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate.”

Jim Sleeper. “Corporate free speech? Since when?” Boston Globe. September 5, 2009: “This year showed us that a republic periodically has to save capitalism from itself. Corporations are creations of the republic, not its equals or superiors. We citizens charter them, protect them legally, subsidize them, and even bail them out – and punish them when, as with Pfizer Chemical, their profit-maximizing violates drug-safety rules.”