Kent Greenfield, a professor of law at Boston College Law School, recently wrote a piece for The Washington Monthly called “Let Us Now Praise Corporate Persons.”
Greenfield raises several valid points.
Corporations can and should internally be more democratic. Worker cooperatives and worker owned businesses are certainly preferable than a small number of people dictating what takes place with no input from employees, shareholders and investors.
However, there remains a large gap — namely the relationship between the corporate entity itself and society. Democratic, societal control of corporations used to occur via the corporate charter.
Corporations were only permitted to exist when they received from the state a “charter,” or a license to do business. The charter listed exactly and precisely what a corporation could and could not do. Corporate charters were democratic instruments — in the same way a license issued by the state to practice law, medicine, and other professions established the terms to operate in that state.
Corporations were intended to be subordinate to humans, to serve the public and the common good. Personhood places them legally on par.
Inalienable constitutional rights given to artificial legal fiction creations of government are an absurdity. Without the state, there are no corporations, no corporate “persons” — not so with real humans.
If you choose to read The Washington Monthly piece above, take time also to read the discussion between Greenfield and Ron Fein, an attorney who advocates for ending corporate personhood. The discussion took place on Democracy Now.
Should McDonald’s & Monsanto Have the Same Rights as People? A Debate on Corporate Personhood