Sunday, January 24, 2010

Corporation equals Person and Other Legal Mischief

Why do our courts equate individuals and corporations?

The concept of free speech evolved to protect political, religious and social liberty and expressions thereof. Nowhere in this long evolution did anyone contemplate economic liberty and the legal protection of corporate interests. Not until corporations gained undue influence over the judicial process

The Supreme Court of Canada has declared, "Freedom of expression, even commercial expression, is an important and fundamental tenet of a free and democratic society." Thus, the Court placed corporations on the same level as people.

This absurdity springs from the legal fiction that corporations are persons. For breaking the law, a corporation cannot be jailed, whereas humans can be so punished. Thus the law protects corporations more than that humans.

There is no basis, historical or otherwise, for including advertising under freedom of expression.

American courts also have it wrong. Speaking for a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy overturned a ban on political spending by corporations: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

 It's amazing how legal folk can massage "associations of citizens" into corporations. Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution equate corporations and individuals. Yet the courts, in the spirit of "constitutional originalism" ignore all this. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010, Judge Scalia found a corporate right to become involved in the election process, but also to keep their machinations secret.

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