Corporate ‘personhood’ not new concept

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Some of our local commentators have been ranting quite a bit, in recent months, about evil corporations being able to buy elections for their own sinister ends.

It is stated this is made possible by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling commonly called “Citizens United.”

They claim that ruling bestowed upon corporations complete and full personhood with full rights to participate in our federal elections the same as living and breathing persons. I’m not completely sure, but I don’t think the ruling was exactly that broad.

Corporate and group personhood has a long history in the law of this country as some of the following reference will show: Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819) … Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394 (1886) … Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander, 337 U.S. 562 (1949) … Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010) … 1 U.S.C. §1 — “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise — the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.”

The “Citizens United” decision held that funding of independent political activities can not be limited due to the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and assembly. This did not apply to corporations exclusively but to any group of American citizens such as corporations, unions, NGO’s/special interest groups, etc. If you will notice, the ruling applies only to independent activities and does not alter the federal ban prohibiting these groups from donating directly to candidates campaigns.

Democrats and their media helpmates determined that this would be a good issue to spin to their advantage by implying endlessly that this had only to do with corporate activities which they falsely imply aids almost solely the Republicans. At the same time they are careful to not mention any participants that favored their political preferences.  

They knew that only a constitutional amendment could alter this ruling and the chances of one being adopted were nil. They thus decided to pass regulations on these political activities that would work to their advantage.

They came up with the DISCLOSE act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act) which would require reporting of election activities so that citizens would know who was aiding whom. However, when you read the body of the act, you find it exempts organizations, from the disclosure requirements, that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations. I think it odd that these exemptions eliminate virtually all of the major unions and NGO’s/special interest groups from disclosure requirements.

The DISCLOSE act failed to pass, but no matter, because the Democrats got what they really wanted  which was an issue to demagogue to the voters. That the Republicans blocked the voters from access to information about election funding. However the exemptions for their donors are never brought to light.

David Akisson