[QUOTE=JPS;217736]As Volokh pointed out some weeks ago, it would be impossible without corporate personhood to ever buy or sell stock or other property involving corporations. Literally every single transaction (and large corporations involve thousands of transactions every day) would have to specify each and every stockholder in the corporation (potentially millions of names, complicated further by the ownership of shares by other collective entities). And every time a share of stock was sold, ALL currently executory contracts (thousands) would have to be amended with the new owner’s personal information. (Hopefully, this concern is specific enough to warrant being treated with more respect than just blowing it off in total.)
I think blanket critics of corporate personhood should deal with the practical reasons that it exists instead of just demonizing this one narrow manifestation. Those demanding that corporate personhood be rejected should be required to spell out in reasonable detail a functional alternative rather than just running harms.[/QUOTE]
These Volokh arguments (legal complications absent corporate personhood) referenced in your post are just absolute bunk. I’ll get to it in a moment, but first:
This thread was not intended to be a discussion about “corporate personhood.” It was intended to be a discussion about how “corporate personhood” should be interpreted. For example, I vastly prefer last week’s interpretation to this week’s. However, I’ll happily engage your arguments on the necessity of corporate personhood. Its just that arguments about the necessity of corporate personhood are rarely cogent arguments against our criticisms of the ruling, since you can keep corporate personhood alive and just interpret it differently. Nonetheless, I’ll gladly oblige the topic.
The Need for Corporate Personhood:
Firstly, I’ll second Joey’s argument, I’m far more concerned with “limited liability” than I am with “corporate personhood.” I really don’t care about corporate personhood, I care about the ruling. However, truth be told, compared to the status quo, I’ll take either method of undoing the ruling: reinterpreting corporate personhood or scrapping it. Its just that I’m rather apathetic to the issue of corporate personhood either way.
Why the Volokh arguments are just, as someone would say, bad debate:
[list=1][*]Corporate Personhood is Unnecessary:
I keep hearing the argument, and poorly reasoned articles from Volokh, that state that we need corporate personhood for capitalism. Yet there are dozens of nations who are all financially competitive, have high living standards, exceeding ours either in quality of life or wages, or sometimes both, and they don’t have corporate personhood. You don’t need ‘corporate personhood’ to allow people to buy or sell stock, you can change the laws quite easily. If need be, I can list you fifty nations where you can buy or sell stock without corporate personhood, if you can list me three that actually accept the notion of corporate personhood.
[*]Removing Corporate Personhood Won’t Ruin Our Markets:
A large majority of these arguments about ‘what would happen if corporate personhood is immediately removed’ are patent nonsense. They strike me as the type of argument someone would agree with because it corroborates their political belief, but that no one could take seriously with deeper inquiry. Thats not to say that there aren’t legitimate arguments for corporate personhood, I’m sure there are a few, just that these most definitely aren’t it.
Corporate personhood isn’t the solution that fixed the problems of our laws, rather: corporate personhood is one of the many factors around which our laws were developed.
This is important, people keep saying that absent CP is the only thing making our laws work, that is only because our laws developed around CP. If we didn’t have CP, our laws would simply have developed differently. All capitalist societies have managed to provide for the needs of corporations and stock traders, and they don’t use CP to get the job done. If we remove CP, we can simply rewrite our laws. Its not hard, Congress does it every day. In fact, considering the very, very few cases where the notion of corporate personhood is explicitly required for the functioning of our laws (I actually doubt there is any specific case, rather just implicit assumptions about the functioning of laws), it wouldn’t be hard to pass a law that says:
Charters, ltd’s, corporations, etc. have the right to sell and trade stock as independent legal entities.
In fact, I’m quite sure that legal provision already exists. With a few pen strokes, it will match the new reality of a US without Corporate Personhood quite easily.
[*]Corporate Personhood Has Serious Constitutional Problems:
If we are to believe that corporations somehow are “persons” with the same legal rights as any other citizens in this country, then that has some significant implications:
Are corporations allowed to form into militias? If the first amendment applies, why not the second? In fact, why not all of them. Why don’t we analyze every single amendment applying to persons and see what implications that has for these charters. I’ll continue: do corporate charters have to be 18 years old to have full, legal adult rights? Just curious, they are persons, and there are legal and constitutional differences in persons based on age.[/list]
I don’t really care about corporate personhood, but some really ludicrous arguments are going unchallenged.
The Problems with the SC’s Ruling:
The real issue, for me at least.
[list=1][*]“Freedom of Speech”
Money is not speech, people, seriously. Why is this reasserted over and over without anyone giving a logical explanation for how money is speech. Money is property, thats why we have freedom of property for money, and freedom of speech for things like, well, you know, speech. And yes, I recognize that speech is an encompassing umbrella term, but I think you’re playing very loose with that term if you think money is so easily classified as speech.
For starters, am I constitutionally allowed to just go up to a senator and hand him cash? Say his campaign is over, can I still contribute money to him? If not, why? I am simply engaging in a speech right, why is this speech right not legal outside of election season? If its legal outside of election season, shouldn’t we just eliminate all laws governing gifts from lobbyists. Under SQ, lobbyists and corporations cannot give senators any gifts with value greater than $49.50. Lets eliminate it, if a CEO, or corporation, wants to buy your favorite senator a Maserati, let him do it. Apparently he has freedom of speech to do so.
[*]We Need to Analyze the Effects of Rulings on the Integrity of Democracy:
This has gone unresponded to repeatedly, so I’ll just repeat it again:
The Supreme Court established in its earlier ruling that the rights of corporations had to be limited due to their influence and its negative effects on democracy, this was completely ignored by the new Supreme Court ruling. The new ruling analyzed the issue of corporate personhood while completely ignoring parts of the previous decision that they didn’t want to deal with. I really think that these five justices cherrypicked the parts of the previous ruling, the interpretations of what amendments of the constitution should apply, as well as what was challenged in the trial, all to further their own political goals. I think some people used to call this judicial activism.
Now, given that there is a necessity to guard democracy against the negative effects of rulings, which no one has countere: I have shown repeatedly that money given in campaigns affects policies. I even showed how judges said that money given to them during election season affects their legal rulings. Are we going to pretend that our politicians are saints? Its very evident that they are influenced by the flows of money. Not only that, even if we are going to pretend, and this would be an absolutely terrible argument but I’ll entertain it: that money given has no effect on a candidates policies, then you still face the problem that the flows of money narrow the field.
Candidates unable to secure large sums of money needed for their campaign treasury simply aren’t seen as competitive, don’t get party backing, and don’t get the necessary exposure to reach voters. Money is access, and corporations have large influence in this access.
Does that mean I think that money is always the end-all factor in an election or a candidate’s policies? No, and thank god for that, thats why there are some wonderful elected officials and campaigns that are succesful despite the financial disadvantage, but the system overwhelmingly favors the wealthier candidates.[/list]
So no, I don’t think voters are drowned out, that the ‘voices of the disenfranchised’ have been dealt a mortal blow, that democracy will die tomorrow. But I think a serious damage has been done to it, and it will effect our elections and legal process for decades to come, for the entirety of my prime and well into my late adulthood. And it concerns me.
This ruling will make it a lot harder for candidates to resist corporate donations, and it will affect policies. Corporations already have excess sway in government. Honestly:
I dare anyone to claim that corporations don’t have enough lobbying influence in K street under status quo.
After today’s ruling, their excess influence is heightened. Ordinary citizens can still pool money, but the competition is now heavier, there are larger flows of money and campaigns will have to adapt by raising more money, meaning ordinary citizens have to donate more to be effective, or donate in larger groups.
This has a simple effect:
Many candidates from before will still have enough money afterwards.
Many candidates from before will also still have too little money after this ruling.
But a group of candidates who might have been financially competitive before this ruling will no longer be financially competitive because of the need for funds, and they will have to either take corporate donations or risk loss.
This ruling penalizes candidates who refuse corporate donations out of principle. They were already at a disadvantage, but now that disadvantage is much greater.