Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.RED ALERT: Paris Terror Attacks - What to Expect Next - STRATFOR
2.Paris Terror Attacks, Death Pangs of a Dying Religion, and Impact on BrExit EU Referendum - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Paris Terror Attacks, Islamic State Attempting to Spark Civil War in France - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Three Shocking Charts That Prove Gold Price Rally Is Coming - Sean Brodrick
5.Stock Market Nifty-Fifty Becomes Fab-Five; Return of the 'Four Horseman' - Mike_Shedlock
6.Africa Population Explosion - Why Europe's Migrant Crisis is Going to Get A Lot Worse - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Gold Mining Stocks May Be The Buy Of The Century - Jeff_Berwick
8.Grandmaster Putin Beats Uncle Sam at His Own Game - Mike_Whitney
9.BRICS? No, CRISIS - Raymond_Matison
10.UK Housing Market Affordability, House Prices Momentum and Trend Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 5 days
A Black Friday for Gold Prices - 29th Nov 15
Politicians Driving The World Towards War - Fourth Turning - 29th Nov 15
Stock Market Down Monday, Gold Price Bottoming? - 29th Nov 15
Turkey Downs Russian Jet to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire - 28th Nov 15
Stock Market Quiet Week as Primary 5 Continues - 28th Nov 15
Black Friday, Weekend for Europe's Migrants - 28th Nov 15
HUI and Gold - Who's Leading Whom? - 28th Nov 15
Gold And Silver - No Ending Action, But End May Be Near - 28th Nov 15
Social and Cultural Distress Dividing The Nation - Fourth Turning - 28th Nov 15
Sheffield Houses Prices 2015, Best Estate Agents As Rated by Buyers and Sellers - 28th Nov 15
Stock Market Top Valuations, at a Critical Juncture - 27th Nov 15
The Top Shopping Opportunity on Black Friday - 27th Nov 15
Economics Is About Scarcity, Property, and Relationships - 27th Nov 15
UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Extreme of 336k Net Migration, up 32% on 2014 - 27th Nov 15
Vauxhall Zafira B Fire Danger Recall - What to Do Video - 26th Nov 15
Triggers In US Dollar Collapse - 26th Nov 15
Apple Stock is a 10-Year Short - Bear Market Environment - 26th Nov 15
U.S. Federal Reserve Rate Hike - 26th Nov 15
George Osborne's War on Buy to Let Sector Trending Towards Doomsday - 26th Nov 15
Will Turkey Drag NATO into War With Russia in Syria? - 25th Nov 15
George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review Full Text - 25th Nov 15
Will Fresh QE From ECB Boost Gold? - 25th Nov 15
Sheffield, Yorkshire and Humberside House Prices Forecast 2016-2018 - 25th Nov 15
Investors Watch Out For The Auto Industry… - 24th Nov 15
BEA Revises 3rd Quarter 2015 US GDP Economic Growth Upward to 2.07% - 24th Nov 15
Stock Market Supports Are Being Broken - 24th Nov 15
Is Gold Price on the Verge of a Breakout? - 24th Nov 15
Fed’s Tarullo: U.S. Interest Rates Liftoff Should Wait for Signs of Inflation - 24th Nov 15
Silver Price, COT, US Dollar Updates and More - 24th Nov 15
UK Regional House Prices Analysis - Video - 23rd Nov 15
Crude Oil Swinging For The Fences - A 20 to 1 Option Play - 23rd Nov 15
US Dollar, CRB, Oil, Gas, Copper and Gold - The Chartology of Deflation - 23rd Nov 15
UK Regional House Prices, Cheapest and Most Expensive Property Markets - 23rd Nov 15
Stock Market Rally Losing Momentum? - 23rd Nov 15
Will Gold Price Drop Below $1000 Soon? - 23rd Nov 15
Gold and Silver Sector Big Green Light and Low Risk Entry Setup... - 23rd Nov 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Reasons to Get Excited About Japanese Stocks

Surpreme Court Ruling that Corporations are People Too?

Politics / US Politics Jan 22, 2010 - 10:09 AM GMT

By: Andy_Sutton


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThursday’s landmark Supreme Court decision has been called everything from proper to despicable and misguided.  Clearly in the historical realm, every nation, empire, and circumstance of human organization has clear signposts that mark first progress, then the eventual destruction of the entity. That is not meant to be melodramatic; it is simply the natural progression of societies. If you don’t agree, ask the Greeks, Romans, and British. So where does Thursday’s decision fit into America’s progression?

Framing the Discussion

Once again it becomes necessary to properly define terms and concepts since failure to do so will almost certainly result in the forthcoming analysis being misconstrued.

The establishment of the corporation as an ‘artificial person’ by the Supreme Court in 1819 was used to give the corporation (an assembly of individuals of indeterminate size) certain rights that were normally reserved for individual people or ‘natural persons’. For example, a corporation can enter into contracts, file suit, and be sued. Corporations can even be charged with and convicted of criminal offenses, although generally, criminal charges often pass through the corporate veil to members of management as well. The corporation as it were cannot commit a crime of its own volition, but only by the action or inaction of someone entrusted with making decisions for it. One right that has not been conferred to corporations is the right to physically vote in political elections, however, corporations have been able to financially support political candidates for quite some time now.

Until the mid 1800’s, the government issued all corporate charters, and the applicant had to demonstrate that what they were doing or proposing to do would be in the public interest (a novel idea). How many corporations today do you think would fail this acid test? Even in the era of the public interest doctrine as we’ll call it, there were many folks including Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller who sought to skirt the public-interest doctrine by organizing as limited partnerships or Trusts.

The Issue

At issue for the Supreme Court to decide was a 20-year old ban on corporations and labor unions providing money for campaign advertising. The Supremes took it a step further and also struck down part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that banned corporate and union-paid ads in the closing weeks of political campaigns. While on the surface, this looks like a victory for the First Amendment; I think it does little more than pave the way for corporations to buy even more politicians; and to do so under the protection of the law.

The entire issue comes down to the corporation as a person. Is the corporation entitled to all the same rights as a natural person? The very fact that the Supreme Court in 1819 designated corporations as artificial persons rather than natural ones indicates that they are not. Keep in mind that the spirit of corporate law is largely centered on limited liability, not enabling the corporation to wield disproportionate power in the political process (which arguably was already happening anyway). Take our largest corporations, with billions of dollars in quarterly profits.

They are generally controlled by a Board of Directors and major shareholders; the number of which is comparable to those in attendance at a typical Little League baseball game. It is naïve to think that the American people can muster as much financial influence in Washington as even one large company, let alone all of them. The bottom line here is that a corporation is a creation of man and is not entitled to all of the same rights that are imbued in us by God. The framers of the Constitution, following along this line of reasoning, focused the founding documents on individual liberties rather than commercial ones.

Detractors of this line of thinking will accuse me of being hypocritical because on one hand I urge government to get out of the affairs of business, yet on this issue I encourage it to do the opposite. To reconcile these two disparate positions, one must understand the intended purpose of government. Our government was designed to protect the rights of the individual and to prevent people from running roughshod over each other. With that in mind, it would stand to reason that government shouldn’t be telling firms the maximum amount they can pay employees. It shouldn’t be bailing those companies out when they fail either. But it certainly should be preventing companies from stampeding the American people by making the electoral and legislative processes available to the highest bidder.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that what happened yesterday was misconstrued as being a First Amendment issue when it really is an issue of equal protection. Granted, groups like the NRA and other issue-specific groups have been shut out of certain political advertising in the days leading up to elections. That is wrong because those groups are speaking (hopefully) on behalf of their members as a cooperative. A corporation really can’t make that claim at the same level. The White House immediately issued a statement decrying the ruling, and although I agree in this instance, it must be pointed out that every single President in the corporate era has gotten money from corporations for their campaigns. That generalization can be extended to nearly every other political office in the country as well. The bottom line is that this activity was already going on anyway, but now the way has been paved for it to accelerate and increase in magnitude.

Yesterday’s ruling will allow corporations to dump unlimited funds into the coffers of political candidates and overtly buy the legislative process, using the government as a tool to enrich corporate bosses. It is easy to see why the power elite who controls the major corporations was most dissatisfied with the public interest doctrine in place in the 1800s. They greatly prefer that their companies be held to the doctrine of shareholder interest since any action that increases shareholder value is deemed appropriate and acceptable even if it encroaches on the rights of other citizens. Make no mistake about it; the government has already largely been purchased by the highest bidder. Yesterday’s decision legitimizes this previous illegitimate activity and gives the green light to a complete takeover of our government by large corporations.

I’d like to close with two quotations by Thomas Jefferson:

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

“I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty.”

By Andy Sutton

Andy Sutton holds a MBA with Honors in Economics from Moravian College and is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honor Society in Economics. His firm, Sutton & Associates, LLC currently provides financial planning services to a growing book of clients using a conservative approach aimed at accumulating high quality, income producing assets while providing protection against a falling dollar. For more information visit

Andy Sutton Archive

© 2005-2015 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History