Thursday, October 27, 2005


The short-sighted deviationists within Our Noble Lame Duck's own party have now bludgeoned the sensitive feelings of Miers the Martyr until she fled in tears back down the hall to her office. It is time for the only President we've got to eschew compromise, and appoint someone who will be a truly effective and fearless battler for upholding the most important legal precedent now under fire. And I have the perfect choice for him to make.

The decision in question is Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Supposedly, that 1886 case ruled that corporations were legal persons, with full Constitutional rights. Actually, that was not part of the decision. It was a passing comment by one justice, which was enshrined as official by the court reporter who wrote up the case. (By convenient coincidence, he was a former railroad company president himself.) This alleged precedent has thus far been spared serious challenge, but the growing power of multinationals is sparking a movement to overturn it, as seen in Thom Hartmann's book Unequal Protection. One presumed lefty writes:
Up until the New Deal, many laws regulating corporations were struck down under the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment -- in fact, that clause was invoked far more often on behalf of corporations than former slaves. ...it'd be nice to have a clear-cut ruling, say, that limiting campaign contributions by big businesses doesn't mean you're restricting their First Amendment rights.
Nice for whom? Only for the collectivist looters who DO want to restrict those rights. Another rages:
The doctrine of corporate personhood creates an interesting legal contradiction. The corporation is owned by its shareholders and is therefore their property. If it is also a legal person, then it is a person owned by others and thus exists in a condition of slavery -- a status explicitly forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. So is a corporation a person illegally held in servitude by its shareholders?
Their attempt to mock the extreme consequences of this idea only show their own failure of imagination. Yes, we do want to unshackle those superior beings from their bondage. Contrary to short-sighted commenters, Bush is not patterning his administration on that of McKinley, or even that of The Great Liberator himself by a Lincolnesque unleashing of corporate capital. He envisions a modern version of Matthew 21:12-13:
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Corporations are in fact the next step in the intelligent design of the universe. Unlike we mere mortals who exist only as a presursor to bring them into existence, much like the fleeting polyps who yet leave behind vast coral reefs visible even from space, corporations are Platonically pure and perfect and immortal. They are the mightier ones to come after us, whose shoes we are not worthy to unloose. The idea that mere commissioned salesmen can profane the sacred towers of Wall Street by claiming to auction these superior beings piecemeal through marketing "shares", can only bring to mind scenes of ancient cannibalism.

Let us not shrink from the leftist attempt at "reductio ad absurdum". Let us rather have the courage of our convictions, and follow through on all the other implications of the headnotes of Santa Clara. If corporations are persons, then they are not only covered by the 14th Amendment, but by all the rest of the Constitution as well. Needless to say, the 2nd Amendment, with its reference to "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" must mean that companies can also have all the weapons they can afford -- all firms, not just the Blackwaters or Pinkertons. This could give a whole new meaning to "corporate plane", and open a huge new market for defense contractors.

That 14th Amendment also defines citizens as persons "born or naturalized". That would seem to preclude corporations from being citizens. But consider Article I, Section 9:
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight....
Yes, this was intended to cover slaves, but it also makes it clear that states can allow such persons as they like to migrate here and be naturalized. Therefore foreign corporations could become citizens by moving their home offices to America. Since the 14th Amendment bans unequal treatment under law, and it came later and therfore overrides the original Article I, then native corporations therefore must now be eligible for citizenship too. This is an example of the kind of creative thinking we want to see on the Supreme Court.

But wait, there's more!! Article I says the Congress is chosen by the people. That means corporations get to vote. It also provides that the House of Representatives is apportioned on the basis of "the whole Number of free Persons". Once the Supreme Court, with its new Justice I am suggesting, does liberate the companies from their servitude to so-called "stockholders", they will also be free and counted. Admittedly, the next clause, which only provides for counting three-fifths of "all other persons" may be used to reduce the extra seats in Congress based on the number of corporations in a given state. Nevertheless, I suspect that at least Delaware and New Jersey should each get one more member in the U.S. House, and several other states may pick up seats as well. This is all to the good.

To me, the most exciting change produced by this new theory of Constitutional interpretation is that corporations, being persons and citizens, therefore are eligible to serve in Congress themselves. Since the Supreme Court ruled (in Buckley v. Vallejo, 1976) that "limitations on the amount of money candidates spend in their campaigns are unconstitutional because they abrogate the candidate’s first amendment right to free speech", then a company which runs for Congress can spend all it wants. No more corrupt campaign contributions!!

Furthermore, Article III on the judiciary doesn't even require citizenship of federal judges. That means corporations themselves are eligible to be on the Supreme Court -- and that leads to an obvious choice. For the impending vacancy at Sandra O'Connor's chair, the President should nominate this person.

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