Hillary Wants to Overturn Citizens United – Why Not Corporate Personhood?
By Daily Bell Staff - July 17, 2016

Democrat Hillary Clinton will call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in her first 30 days as president, her campaign said. Clinton first made the pledge to overturn the decision in 2015 during the opening week of her presidential campaign. The 2010 high court ruling, which allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections, has helped release a flood of political money in federal, state and local contests. –USA Today

Hillary Clinton has decided if she is elected that she will try for a constitutional amendment to remove the Supreme Court decision called Citizens United.

Citizens United gives corporations “free speech.” In a sense, this treats them like people.

Corporate personhood is actually the root of the problem, not simply “speech.”

We’ve often pointed out that corporate personhood is one of three legs of the stool supporting the modern corporation.

The others are intellectual property rights and central banking.

Titanic flows of fiat money find their way into corporate coffers during economic crises.

Even without crises, multinational corporations are advantaged by fiat money and its resultant credit.

Intellectual property rights sound like a terrific idea but in fact these rights basically provide control of ideas to the largest and most powerful corporations.

There is no reason why corporations should be so large. Corporate personhood allows individual executives to avoid responsibly for corporate actions.

Thomas Jefferson and other founders feared corporate personhood above almost all other sociopolitical manifestations.

They had seen the horrible ruin caused by the British East India Tea Company.

They left regulation of corporations to states. Thus modern-style corporations did not begin to appear in the US until the 20th century as a result of Supreme Court decisions.

Here, from the Brennan Center:

Citizens United did not grant corporations personhood. Corporations already had it. As lawyer David Gans has documented, despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution never mentions corporations, corporate personhood has been slithering around American law for a very long time. The first big leap in corporate personhood from mere property rights to more expansive rights was a claim that the Equal Protection Clause applied to corporations.

The 14th Amendment, adopted after the Civil War in 1868 to grant emancipated slaves full citizenship, states, “No state shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws.”

We have the likes of former U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling to thank for the extension of Equal Protection to corporations. Conkling helped draft the 14th Amendment. He then left the Senate to become a lawyer. His Gilded Age law practice was going so swimmingly that Conkling turned down a seat on the Supreme Court not once, but twice.

Conkling argued to the Supreme Court in San Mateo County v. Southern Pacific Rail Roadthat the 14th Amendment is not limited to natural persons. In 1882, he produced a journal that seemed to show that the Joint Congressional Committee that drafted the amendment vacillated between using “citizen” and “person” and the drafters chose person specifically to cover corporations. According to historian Howard Jay Graham, “[t]his part of Conkling’s argument was a deliberate, brazen forgery.”

As Thom Hartmann notes the Supreme Court embraced Conkling’s reading of the 14th Amendment in a headnote in 1886 in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Rail Road:

“Before argument, Mr. Chief Justice Waite said: ‘The Court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which forbids a state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.’” This was not part of the formal opinion. But the damage was done. Later cases uncritically cited the headnote as if it had been part of the case.

Reclaim Democracy has interesting news about corporate personhood. The movement has apparently grown far beyond Citizens United.

The Big Picture …  Citizens United isn’t an isolated problem. It’s a symptom of a bigger, longstanding threat: for decades the largest corporations have been building power over our political process — power that comes at the expense of citizens.

One of the main instruments of this influence is the legal concept of “corporate personhood,” wherein corporations receive the same Constitutional protections as individuals. Corporations use these protections to claim the “right” to lie to the public, for example, or to influence elections in various ways.

A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to strip corporations of “constitutional rights.” Moreover, many kinds of electoral reform, such as public campaign financing that truly levels the playing field, are legal impossibilities without first amending the Constitution (as a subsequent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance vividly demonstrates).

For these reasons, there’s now a rapidly growing grassroots movement afoot to do so. At the head of this Movement is Move to Amend, a broad national coalition with more than 150 chapters nationwide and nearly 250,000 endorsers (Reclaim Democracy is a co-founder).  More than 400 cities and towns have passed resolutions or ordinances calling to end corporate personhood or have serious efforts underway.

As a libertarian publication, we don’t believe corporations ought to be restrained by law. We don’t believe they ought to be empowered either. People should not be forced to treat corporations as people. Of course it may be a bad idea to try to create a constitutional amendment because the process is unpredictable.

Conclusion: But the premise is sound. Get rid of intellectual property rights, corporate personhood and other rights provided by judicial force and multinational corporations will subside along with their abuses, control and power. Unfortunately, since Hillary Clinton is a globalist, she will not try to remove corporate personhood but she should.

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  • Gary1234

    As a labor organizer said many years ago, “It’s an odd sort of person with no arse to be kicked and no soul to be damned.”

    • Svirtue2013

      We are property, so property cannot own property. All of our Legislative, Judicial, executive branches are corrupt under man’s written law’s! So become a U.S.National—> and sway the power!

  • 2bvictorius

    A very welcome article and a much needed one. I have been a loud and consistent opponent of “the corporate person. ” It is another great example of tyrants, lawyers and politicians confusing the meaning of , “is”.

    The current myth that corporations have a vote, is on it’s face ridiculous. People are “the corporation” and those people, which includes management and every employee already have, the right to vote and support the political process. By granting the “corporation” the right to vote as a person is actually allowing some persons more than one vote, because the innate corporation cannot “pull the lever, or mark a ballot, that can only be done by a “person.” If I were in Congress I would challenge any corporation to go to the polling place and physically vote, with the aid of a real human being. I would also issue a subpoena to the “corporation” to appear before the congress and prove it is a person, and not a lawyer impersonating a corporation.

    I do not believe it is necessary to Amend the Constitution, or even contemplating a Constitutional convention because of the very real danger of a runaway convention.

    Congress and the states can remedy the problem , but , won’t. However until the issue is reversed, and corporations are once again , innate products of human endeavor, without a brain wave or blood pressure , and not human beings (persons) , the common man will become totally irrelevant in the eyes of the law. Bad, incorrect and deliberate misinterpretations of the original constitution cannot become law or enforceable in any state that opposes it. That is the law.

    • Bruce C.

      Call me crazy, but I can absolutely see corporate personhood going down under a Trump presidency.

      If Trump is anything like I think he is he understands this very well. He knows exactly how existing laws – “as unbelievable as they are, but you gotta take advantage of them…” – can be used to the advantage of corporations BUT THE DISADVANTAGE TO EVERYBODY ELSE.

      Maybe I’m drunk on the Trump kool-aid but if he is anything like me and many others my/his age he wants to fix a distorted, broken, perverse and indefensible system. (Side note: Woe to anyone who has to truthfully explain things to a young child. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. That’s the acid test.)

  • To remove money from politics you have to get rid of what attracts money to politics; the convoluted tax code and excessive regulation.
    The voter wants regulation and taxes on business and the rich, which causes business and the rich to spend money on politics to influence taxes and regulation. Blame the voter.
    Excessive regulation and a convoluted tax code are the seeds of an oligarchy; they are the sperm and egg.
    If you count on the government to do it or over regulate it, it will be hijacked by special interest groups (Unions, Financial Industry, Oil Industry, Farmers, Defense Contractors, Multi-National Corporations, Religious Groups, Environmentalists, AARP, etc.), so it invites more corruption than solutions. People are given a false sense of security. A very good reason to keep government to a minimum and one of the reasons the Constitution is set up to constrain it. This regulatory capture also increases the barriers to competition, further hurting citizens/consumers.
    Blame the voter for the existence of lobbyists.
    First step to a solution:
    Support politicians that promise to get rid of laws and regulations that are obsolete or ineffective, instead of the ones that promise to enact more laws and regulation.
    Second and third steps:
    Repeal the 16th Amendment, abolish the IRS and the tax code, and enact the Fair Tax. Less money will go into politics because there will be no tax code to manipulate. There will be much less for the special interest groups to hijack.
    Reduce regulations to the minimum necessary. Less money will go into politics because there will be less to manipulate. There will be less for the special interest groups to hijack.
    Fourth step:
    Pass and ratify an Amendment to the Constitution to require a 60% supermajority in the House to pass any new legislation and a simple majority to repeal any legislation.
    Choose limited federal government. Stop making millionaires out of our politicians and lobbyists. Stop increasing the power of politically connected corporations.

  • Svirtue2013

    I stood on the steps of the Court House in San Jose, California back in 2012, and needed a way to find a remedy in ending the encroachment set by Citizens United. So, what did I do? I became a U.S. National to let the battle begin. As with God Given Natural Right’s, as opposed to man written law’s produced by the Franklin Roosevelt administration in March 9, 1933 with the New Deal which stripped all Americans off by the private bankers as a substitute for Gold. So Being a US Citizens is admittance to be under man written law’s, so I became a U.S.National. Hope others will become a U.S.National found by Roger Sayles book . Your Freedom is in the Passport application Affidavit. And Affidavit for both Black’s and White’s is found here: . Work your way down to battle these corrupted corporations than to fight from the bottom up. Keep me involved! Shane –

  • Sherry Gregory

    Now, why am I not surprised? This statement coming from the woman who has taken millions from corporations, unions, and foreign governments to fill her campaign coffers, now wants to prevent anyone in the future from receiving a deluge of corrupt political money insuring favors for those entities. Hmmmm…. With the elimination of free speech against corrupt politicians, this move would insure her political shenanigans as ‘president’ would forever be silenced. And, since Hillary is probably the “biggest” benefactor of corporation’s political donations, I agree…she will not attempt to remove corporate personhood. She and Bill have certainly milked the political system for all “they are worth”…. Billion$$$$$.

    I agree with 2bvictorius statement – thank you.

  • Bruce C.

    The potentially – some would say certainly – huge problem here is the prospect of a Constituitional Amendment by the crop of souls in office today. Wow. The danger of “unintended” consequences is an understatement.

  • rahrog

    SECEDE from fedgov and this is just one more piece of fascism that gets flushed away.

  • DrDean

    The joys of joint stock companies…

  • Pilgrim

    Corporations have no morality. Corporations are a creation of government and are obligated only to obey the laws of their government creator.

    Corporations cannot be expected to act morally as they have no physical body with which to “act”. Corporations only have a presence at law in terms of their financial well-being. The corporation, a creation of men acting solely as a straw-man, is a non-being, an imaginary concept-entity that doesn’t suffer heat, cold, hunger, fatigue, anger, happiness or passion.

    Since corporations have no morality, they should not be allowed to opine monetarily to influence a course of events that may have repercussions on flesh & blood people.

    In the united States, the people are sovereign over government, not the other way around. As such, laws pertaining to corporations should not empower corporations to have an upper hand to influence politicians in their own financial interest at the expense of or in disregard for the well-being of the people.

    • The corporate structure is kept in place via judicial force.

  • Corporations are a Roman Civil Law construct.
    There is no provision in common law for the rights of corporations.

  • Jon_Roland

    Remove corporate personhood? Nonsense. Advocates for that don’t understand what a “person” is. A person is a role, not the actor who plays the role. It is only roles that can have rights or duties under law. That includes anything that can state a claim in a court. Governments are persons. Corporations are persons because they can have rights, powers, and duties.
    In common law all trusts are legal persons, and corporations are a kind of trust. Trusts are the essence of common law.
    In any case, corporate personhood has nothing whatsoever to do with having a First Amendment right to publish (press), because corporations are just collections of individuals and the individuals have the rights. They don’t lose rights by associating with others in their exercise.

    • We’re not big fans of common law. Private law is our preference. Anyway, take it up with Thomas Jefferson.

      • If said private law is set by the people within that community, then it is defacto common law, and provides no improvement other than a ‘face-lift’. You are clearly ignorant on the subject. Stop it.

        • We’ve studied common-law quite a bit and written about it in numerous articles. If you just drop in here to leave a humorous feedback, you wouldn’t know, of course …

          What we call private law is not much discussed because the modern legal community wants to forget about it. But private law has existed throughout human history and is simply the idea that people solve their differences individually and without state control. As we’ve pointed out many times, private justice may involve an emphasis on violence (duels and family feuds) in order to motivate participants to “settle.”

          You are apparently enamored with modern, public justice, which is only made the possible by the horrible availability of central-bank printed fiat money. There is no way the US would be able to afford to incarcerate 25 percent of the world’s imprisoned population otherwise. We disagree with public, fiat-money-funded public justice. Think about it …

  • AGAIN with the nonsensical collectivist attacks from the Daily Bell on intellectual property. I thought we put this to bed YEARS AGO.

    What is this continued fascination with IP Communism?!

    • It is certainly not communism to maintain that government shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what technology they can and cannot use. If people want to enforce such things, they ought to do it on their own. Why should we pay to preserve the inviolability of your invention?

      • It’s painfully obvious to anyone who is paying attention you are avoiding the issue. Hand-waving is not an argument, and engaging in logical fallacies is embarrassing (or perhaps this particular ‘contributor’ is not swift enough to realize they are engaging in said?).

        Just stop it! …Or don’t, and continue to reduce your credibility and readership.

        On second thought don’t stop. Apparently the DB has been converged. Ash heap, here comes another pile!

        • What logical fallacy? You don’t describe it because you cannot.

          We will ask again (though we don’t expect an answer): Why should OUR tax dollars pay to secure YOUR invention. It is recognized and commonplace, but we still see it as a kind of theft.

          We await your response.

  • Corporate cartels and regulatory capture, usurp any idea of state, as serving the balancing of the whole, and operate the law and the defence and upholding of law – as a weapon of subjection.

    The appeal to law for justice, for voices and interests to be heard and taken into account – and for the violation or overriding of such interests to be held to account – has within it a balancing of freedom with responsibility.

    Corporations have such undue influence as to operate parasitically on their host nations or populations – and simply strip out wealth to turn it into debt. Debt that is outsourced as degradation and misery, and debt that is wielded as financial influence or power over debtors.

    ‘Currency’ is not just fiat money control – but also the core definitions of life and world that are foundational to the sense OF self and world that are in that way ‘agreed’ by the fact of operating out from them as defacto true.

    An identity based or rooted in a sense of lack – feared or believed – can only bring forth and multiply lack in whatever forms it manifests at every level of our human experience.

    I see the primary root of a sense of lack is associated with a wish to be more-than and a resultant fear of being less-than…. You Are – or have accepted and believed yourself to be.

    Being ‘right’ or not wrong – not lacking in validity, is a fiercely defended ‘assertion’ of judgement. Forcing your ‘right’ upon others and your living world – along with invalidating their right – by coercion or by subtle deceits. Becomes split into the public or surface struggle of power and the private ‘identity’ that appeases or conforms to the outer whilst maintaining a hidden agenda.

    “Someone convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”

    Thus there is what might be called an unconscious, subconscious or masked hatred of being coerced, violated, limited, forced, deceived and betrayed – etc etc – that piles up in Humanity like a toxic debt bubble – and which the surface mentality becomes no less fragmented into deceits of compartmentalised narratives in ‘holding power’ that is equated with holding order – and therefore calling on survival instincts.

    However – when survival of the sense of power calls forth the degradation and destruction of the ‘enemy’ – which has effectively expanded to become the human race and our Planet – the insanity operates evil – “anti-Live”.

    Our most primal sense of coercive identity arises against the sense-feeling of ‘evil’ in order to attain a relative innocence over and against it – and the expression of denial and hate – as a sense of righteousness.

    I see our denied conditioned imprinting coming up to an exposure that of course triggers off every kind of defensive reaction in attempt to maintain narrative continuity. But unlike when first such psychological ‘deceits’ are employed in forming ‘personality’ – there is now some free awareness within which to recognize the devices at work and to see that they in fact don’t work for but against a current sense of self and Life – and so re-align in ways that do.

    The struggle of powers has no free attention or awareness from which to open choice at a deeper level than the fear agenda dictates. Nor is it inclined to listen to anything that is not weaponizable or marketizable – and as such is a negative ‘loop’ running on the energy and attention of allegiance and support given it.

    I am not talking only about ‘Them’ here – but of each of us as we have capacity to recognize and abide in seeds of sanity long enough to grow a perspective from which to live – and therefore establish as true currency within a moneylender’s scam.

    In seeking validation. Hillary Clinton has to find forms of popular appeal – and this can bring subjects into debate that otherwise are effectively denied. But once the votes are captured, the politics of power no longer need voter support – and can present all kinds of disinformation as to why they in fact do not keep voter promises – or distort them so as to use them to gain even more ‘power’ for an insanity to operate unchecked.

  • Mark Davis

    Of course, the foundation of corporatism (aka fascism) is the legal fiction that creates the corporation out of thin air. The state itself is a derivative form of the corporation creating a circular power system. Gee, create a fictional entity for the purpose of avoiding personal liability and even death thus perpetuating fraud in order to create larger pools of money for investors than could companies in which owners are personally liable for the consequences of their actions and die; what could go wrong?
    It is refreshing to see that The Daily Bell promotes liberty for the individual based on free-market principles that generate wealth while also recognizing the inherent danger that corporations pose for both. This is a rare stance that runs contrary to many who preach the ideals of liberty and free-markets while also embracing corporations with a cult-like fervor with no sense of irony.

    • Thanks. Please note, we’ve been “promoting” such true economic freedoms for 15 years.

  • Reflections on Persona

    You cannot find a person if you dissect a body – can it be proven to actually exist?
    Personhood itself is definitional currency of communication. You give one to have one. But what you give may in fact deny the nature of the one you ‘accept’ – and they must then accomodate a split reality – that operates against our nature while pretending to be natural.

    Persona is a mask – and yet also becomes an interface or matrix through which to experience and interact in the human experience – which is not merely physical survival within a set environment – but the creation of a model of its own existence projected upon – and becoming its environment.

    The personality construct is the embodying template that brings forth experience in or through a body – and thus of the world of which the body participates.

    A corporate identity seeks and finds validation in finding reinforcements with or at expense of others corporate or body-personae associates.

    The Rule of asserted power makes law the dominant validating definition – and out-laws or limits and denies any other polarity within Consciousness. But such law is the law of sacrifice of true nature to the idea of power over nature – and within its terms nature is given ITS attributes of treachery and cruel or heart-less loss, suffering and death. All seemingly autonomous personae operate within the matrix of the law of sacrifice – as if validation or worth is only attained or regained through the denial of that which an otherness to Life defines ‘other’ – and indeed threat.

    The reversal in consciousness of the order of cause and effect – operates as the idea of the independence of power over Life – as an ascendency of status and worth – but arising from experience of denial and rejection, and consequent sense of betrayal, violation and disconnection – that then operates as the HIDDEN basis for such a sense of power to operate out from. This is an expression of a lack of light of acceptance seeking its own substitution in forms of possession and consumption – as if ever such could deliver more than a fleeting sense of fulfilment in an unassuagable appetite-driven need.

    Transpersonal or spiritual recognition, rises from looking on the HIDDEN foundation from which we had been set ony to look away from. For a fear of intimacy arises from unresolved relational pain – indeed trauma. Mind-control is a perversion of mind-focus.

    The freedom and fluidity of focusing awareness as attention and desire is our creative inheritance – blocked and definedby trauma arising from extreme imbalance and conflict.

    The notion of person needs to be re-evaluated – as do all of our founding beliefs – if they are not to bring us to utter ruin – both without as within. The result of identifying in a bad investment is to pour the good into the bad, while ‘interpreting’ the result as a self justification. Regardless what the world or anyone else says – the consequence is not escaped. Truth is no respecter of persons – and meaninglessness does not change as a result of consensual belief in its necessity as a foundation.

    Intimacy embraces and transcends persons – but ‘getting’ or ‘taking’ can never have, hold or know and share themselves in love – and so getters are for-getters – and will seek to make a world ‘forgetting’ – in a transactional hatred hidden beneath the hollow forms of a mask of ‘love’.

  • r2bzjudge

    “But the premise is sound.”

    But what is the reality?

    Democrats want to impose socialism. Corporate rights stand in the way of that.

    Democrats want to overturn Citizens United, in order to benefit their ulterior agenda, government control. How is government control working out in Venezuela?

    Democrats profess they want to take money out of politics, but Sanders wanted to have “free” college- Sanders was buying votes with tax payer money. Democrats don’t actually want to take money out of politics, they just want to shift where the money in politics comes from- to the tax payers, who will the ones paying for the votes that are bought, with promises of more social programs.

  • Counter Globalist

    Because in the court of law all “Persons” are treated as “Corporate Persons” overturning this ruling would deny free-speech to real people, not just legal fictions.
    Unfortunately, real people believe that their government corporate fiction is actually themselves.