If the First Amendment applies to Corporations, how about the others from the Bill of Rights ? The post that wasn't meant to be...

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Summary: I was thinking about this tonight. If the Supreme Court holds that banning corporations from unlimited spending on campaigns is a violation of the First Amendment, does this means that corporations get the other Amendments as well? I tongue-in-cheeked an answer and then realized that it wasn't quite what joking about. Oh well, I for one embrace our judicial overlords.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

(14:11:34 CST)

If the First Amendment applies to Corporations, how about the others from the Bill of Rights ? The post that wasn't meant to be...

Last night, I sat down and thought I would have a good old laugh about the recent Supreme Court decision to block the ban on corporate spending towards political compaigns by applying the other Bill of Rights amendments to corporations as though they were citizens. By the time I was done, though, the ridiculousness of the whole thing hit me. Corporations as "bodies of workers" are already protected by the Constitution as much as any other collection of people (roughly speaking). Outside of this, what precedent does the Constitution give for applying citizen-level rights to institutions? The Eleventh Amendment talks about States, but does so as a ingrained concept of the government. Sure, corporations as they exist now did not quite exist in the days the Constitution was made (this is only partly true, some were quite powerful and politically active, but I'll say those were exceptions to the rule); but even if they did, would the Constitution ever really address them? I do not know. I doubt it.

Anyhow, on to the post at hand, what would happen if the Bill of Rights retroactively applied to corporations? First off, the Second Amendment would give corporations the right to bear arms. It's like Snow Crash, only more real. The Third Amendmentand Fourth Amendment would be boring, because they are already extended to corporations by way of applying to citizens.

Fifth Amendment, though, is a fun one. Because, see, a corporation is made up of many parts, including paperwork. If a corporation cannot be made to testify against itself, this means that none of its parts can be, either. Since a corporation is made up of paperwork and transactions, would using said paperwork and transactions against it violate the Fifth? Now that's a fun loophole. Another fun loophole is that whole "tried twice for the same crime" thing. Just like the Eighth, which would say that no excessive bail, nor cruel and unusual punishment shall be held against corporations; the question is how much the corpus of the corporation exists as a profit-generating machine. If you can hold that having profits hurt twice for the same crime is "double jeopardy", then maybe you cannot do it. Also, in classic SCOTUS cases, it has shown that a felon has certain rights to exist in certain ways that can be violated. If a corporation only exists to make profit, than any denial of profit seems to violate these basic existent rights. Is there a certain amount of profit loss that can be deemed "cruel" or "unusual"?

Sixth Amendment: Corporations get a speedy trial. They can face their accuser. They are provided an attorney. Almost as boring as the Third and Fourth, above, but not quite. The Seventh gives them a trial by jury in civil cases. The Ninth gives corporations other rights not mentioned here. None of these three are really fun in any way ("fun" meaning something not already extended to corporations by the fact that actual people are put on trial in place of them). Well, the Ninth is kind of an odd one, but, really, the only fun one remaining is probably,

The Tenth: the Federal government has no rights over corporations not expressed in the Constitution and not denied, by the Federal government, to the States. Had this one not been fairly boinked about already, then it would possibly be the scariest of the ones, here. If every worker's right had to be guaranteed through a Constitutional amendment, then we would still have nine-year-olds making munitions for a dollar a day.

Anyhow, the more fun, more tongue-in-cheek, and happier version of this post never happened, because I realized in the middle that it was not really a laughing matter. When the Supreme Court says the Constitution counts corporations as people, where does that start? What percentage of a person is a corporation? And so forth.

Si Vales, Valeo


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