Corporate Personhood is the legal doctrine that grants the rights of individuals to corporations. Since the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, this has been a controversial topic and has had a significant impact on the way our political system works.
The 2010 ruling established that because corporations are considered people under the existing law this means spending money essentially equates to free speech. As a result, corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads and campaigns. Politicians spend far more of their time and energy appealing to corporations than to the people they are supposedly elected to represent. It doesn’t require a mountaintop mediation to grasp the tremendous ramifications policy like this will have on the last glimmers of political influence average citizens have left.
Corporate Personhood is also a fundamental enabler of environmental violations. The Supreme Court ruling of Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon in 1922 set a precedent allowing corporations to sue for future profits loss when newly enacted regulation hurts their profits. This precedent strongly discourages local and state governments from passing laws to protect the people or environment for fear that they’d be sued by corporations for staggering amounts of money. Not to mention, unlike ‘natural persons’, corporations can’t be jailed for any violation they commit.
Although we envision a Thriving World as a society without coercive government ‘authority’ violently enforcing laws, transitional steps such as ending Corporate Personhood can help protect the people and the environment while we work towards creating a world that works for everyone.
Q - If government itself, through mandatory taxation (theft), is a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle, and corporations are government licensed entities, shouldn’t we be getting rid of not only the notion that they have the same rights as actual people, but also getting rid of the corporations themselves?
A - Yes, banning Corporate Personhood is an interim, transition step in the process of emerging from our subjugation to an authoritarian state and into a truly free and stateless society. Institutions, organizations, clubs, associations and businesses could and would, of course, still exist, but they would be independent, voluntary and each individual would be accountable for their participation.
Q - What other options are there for reining in bad corporate behavior while we are getting rid of their personhood and ultimately their government status?
A - Lawsuits, protests, boycotts, divestments, shareholder actions, whistleblower media, and many other creative actions!