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Reply to Citizens United Articles

Summary:

  • Corporations are collections of individuals with a common goal; not an abstract legal fiction.
  • It is clear that corporations have some Constitutional protections, but not others.
  • The First Amendment is one of those Constitutional protections, including the right to free speech.
  • Any Congressional reform should focus on transparency, rather trying to cap spending.

This article is by Scott Blake, a 2L at Chicago-Kent.

The public, as well as politicians, have been condemning American corporations in the wake of the recession. If you were to ask anyone on the street what they thought of American corporations, they would probably reply that corporations are greedy, self-interested, and have too much money and influence in politics. I think that this current outlook on corporations is what is framing the current debate on Citizens United. The typical divide goes like this: liberal minds view corporations as greedy and self-interested, and think that the government should step in to limit their power and influence. Conversely, conservative minds distrust an overpowering government and want to limit any government restriction of individual rights.

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A Response to the Citizens United Opinion

Summary:

  • The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC has extended  the doctrine of   “corporate personhood” to offer corporations the full protection of fundamental rights, like freedom of speech, under the First Amendment.
  • The Court’s rationale relies on false suppositions about the Founders’ motivations, the nature of inalienable rights, and the characteristics of free association under the Constitution.
  • The New Textualists on the Court are among the Majority, despite holding views about the nature of collective speech which seem to conflict with one of the decision’s central premises.
  • The Court’s decision will serve to diminish the public trust in government and to ensure the continued hegemony of the wealthy elite in American political life.


This article is by Tom Carroll, a 2L at Chicago-Kent.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n has generated tremendous controversy among laymen, scholars and lawyers.  The Court struck down a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from spending money on “electioneering communication” within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.  It overturned precedents established in McConnell v. Federal Election Comm’n and Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.  The Court applied a rigid strict scrutiny, holding that the law violates free speech and association rights under the First Amendment.

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The Doctrine of Corporate Personhood

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Summary:

  • Corporate personhood is the legal doctrine which holds that corporations are separate entities that deserve to be treated as persons under the 14th Amendment.
  • Has not always been this way; industrial revolution changed the prevalence and role of corporations.
  • Corporations today are still considered persons, but it may have all started with a head note error.

This article is by Christopher Hoffman, a 2L at Chicago-Kent.

“Corporate personhood” refers to the legal doctrine which recognizes a corporation as a “self-autonomous, self-directed entity in which rights inhered,” including constitutional rights such as freedom of speech.[1] In essence, the doctrine holds that corporations are separate entities from their individual shareholders that deserve to be treated as “persons” under the 14th Amendment. Today, the doctrine is universally accepted in American jurisprudence, although some critics question the wisdom of granting the same constitutional rights belonging to “natural” persons to corporations who, with the backing of the State, may “live” forever while aggregating vast sums of wealth. Recently, during oral arguments in Citizens United v. FCC, Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that the Supreme Court may have erred originally by imbuing “a creature of state law with human characteristics.”[2] Justice Sotomayor’s statement raised more than a few eyebrows as it was a relatively rare shot across the bows of the corporate world from such a prominent jurist.

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