Letter to the Editor
Akron Beacon Journal
Sunday, February 21
George Will’s defense of corporate “personhood” and money defined as free speech ignores much from the past and present (“Actually, corporations are people,” Feb. 14). This includes how activist Supreme Court justices contorted the law for decades, long before Citizens United, to concoct the bizarre notions that corporations possess constitutional rights and protections meant exclusively for human beings and that money in elections equals free speech and can be spent in unlimited amounts.
Our nation’s founders never intended corporations to possess unalienable rights. Corporations are creations of the state. Early corporate charters defined their actions. This wasn’t regulation, but definition by sovereign, self-governing people over their creations. If corporations violated their charters, they were often abolished.
Other court decisions established that corporations were separate from the individuals associated with them. Ending corporate personhood doesn’t inhibit the ability of those connected to corporations to express themselves.
It wouldn’t result in government seizure of corporate property. And it wouldn’t end free speech because what gives the media their right to speak freely is that they are the media, not that news and opinions originate from corporations.
If money is speech, then those who have the most money have the most speech. This describes our political system’s dangerous decline toward an oligarchy or plutocracy with the free speech rights and influence of those without money drowned out by the megaphones of the millionaires, billionaires and corporate entities.
Affirming that only human beings possess unalienable rights and permitting those we elect to determine the appropriate amount of money in elections are fundamental solutions for which more citizens, tired of political business as usual, are calling.