The concept of corporate personhood can be traced back as early as the 1886 Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. In this case the court did not make a ruling on “corporate personhood” thanks to a misleading note from a clerk; the decision subsequently was used as a precedent to hold that a corporation was a “natural person.” The 14th amendment that was enacted to protect the rights of freed slaves was now being extended to corporations to protect their interests. This amendment was used routinely to grant corporations constitutional “personhood.” This phenomenon led to “justice’s striking down hundreds of local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harm based on this illegitimate premise. The 14th amendment gave corporations unprecedented “rights” in the form of increased control over resources, jobs, commerce, politicians, even judges and the law”.
As a result of this newfound power, in the form of personhood, corporations have grown in such a manner that they have forgotten the spirit for which they were originally created. Recent corporations such as Enron, AIG, Nike and countless others are examples of titans that seem to be invincible to the law and the rules set by society. These companies have shown through their irresponsible dealings with the public, unlawful actions, and risky behavior that modern corporations have shifted to self-interested money hungry tycoons rather than institutions created purely for the public good. The inordinate power of modern corporations clearly implores action to be taken. There have been acts and reforms suggested in the past, however something more radical and impactful is necessary. I suggest that we revisit corporation’s original purpose and the laws set in place to ensure that corporations fulfill the legal obligations set upon them.
In this report, I will highlight the problems that come along with corporate personhood and advocate that we revoke this legal doctrine. This will diminish the power of Corporations and return power back to individuals and States.