The rightarded are constantly attempting to false frame the issue of corporate personhood. A notable salvo appears in an article in the Huffingtom Post penned by Kent Greenfield. The article was posted in January as Why Progressives Should Oppose A Constitutional Amendment to End Corporate “Personhood”‘.
“Though Citizens United was about free speech rights, and the main concern of its opponents is about the power of large, for-profit corporations, the People’s Rights Amendment would end all constitutional rights for all entities that are not natural persons. So a private university — not a natural person — could be required to start classes with a prayer. The government could prohibit The Huffington Post — not a natural person — from printing columns critical of the president. The FBI could seize the servers owned by Google — not a natural person — without a warrant. Each of these would be a clear constitutional violation under current law, but would be permitted under the People’s Rights Amendment.”
The lie by lie is as follows:
“Though Citizens United was about free speech rights, and the main concern of its opponents is about the power of large, for-profit corporations, the People’s Rights Amendment would end all constitutional rights for all entities that are not natural persons”
There are at least two lies in this one sentence: (1) The PRIMARY CONCERN of many of the realistic members of “Move To Amend” is the destructive behaviour of “NON-PROFIT” organizations dedicated to smearing all candidates for office who do not “suck up” to the 1%. ‘For profit’ corporations do not normally want to become embroiled in elephant versus donkey electoral wars because they will lose market share by doing so. If they cannot act through other associations such as lobbyists, non-profits, or Political Action Committees then they are far less likely to do so.
And (2) the first amendment SPECIFICALLY protects the church and the press and ‘the people assembled to seek redress of grievances’. Speech directly attacking individual candidates or individual elected officials is not protected by this clause concerning redress. According to “statutory interpretation”, NONE of these SPECIFIC protections in the First Amendment would be repealed by the McGovern amendment — see the actual proposed amendment as a PDF. The Specific clause of the wikepedia article that protects First Amendment rights is as follows:
Generalia specialibus non derogant (“the general does not detract from the specific”)
Described in The Vera Cruz (1884) 10 App. Cas. 59 as: “Now if anything be certain it is this, that where there are general words in a later Act capable of reasonable and sensible application without extending them to subjects specially dealt with by earlier legislation, you are not to hold that earlier legislation indirectly repealed, altered, or derogated from merely by force of such general words, without any evidence of a particular intention to do so.” This means that if a later law and an earlier law are potentially—but not necessarily—in conflict, courts will adopt the reading that does not result in an implied repeal of the earlier statute. Lawmaking bodies usually need to be explicit if they intend to repeal an earlier law.
Therefore, the constitutional guarantees specifically accorded the church, the press, and the people assembled to seek redress are still perfectly intact and valid even with the “McGovern Clarification”. It should also be said that these statutory interpretations (Common Law) extend to section one of the amendment drafted by “Move To Amend” and introduced in the US House of Representatives February 11, 2013
The next illustration of lies says:
“So a private university — not a natural person — could be required to start classes with a prayer.”
And, of course, that sort of crap is prohibited by the first amendment — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. BUT!!! PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS can do whatever they or their benefactors want with regard to religion. People are free to sign on or not.
Then we have:
“The government could prohibit The Huffington Post — not a natural person — from printing columns critical of the president.”
The Huffington post is an on-line NEWS source, not to be confused with the “Faux Noise” TeeVee propaganda channel or even the MSNBC channel. Articles critical of the amendment are posted at Huffington (like this one) as are supportive articles. Huffington post is “The Press” and often posts articles criticizing the president. The claim that “The Press” will be stifled by this amendment is total crap.
Then we have:
“The FBI could seize the servers owned by Google — not a natural person — without a warrant. Each of these would be a clear constitutional violation under current law, but would be permitted under the People’s Rights Amendment.”
What is remarkable is that the judiciary could have interpreted the US Constitution in such a way as to ensconce constitutional protections for institutions CREATED BY OR ALLOWED BY THE LEGISLATURES. Incorporated entities are not specifically nor generically mentioned in our US Constitution and these entities are CREATIONS of the CONSTITUTIONALLY AUTHORIZED LEGISLATURES. Most normal, well adjusted, human beings would probably agree that the creators of these entities are responsible for their regulation. And returning now to “Statutory Interpretation”, we have:
Expressio unius est exclusio alterius (“the express mention of one thing excludes all others”)
Items not on the list are impliedly assumed not to be covered by the statute or a contract term. However, sometimes a list in a statute is illustrative, not exclusionary. This is usually indicated by a word such as “includes” or “such as”.
I don’t see “such as” in the First Amendment. The “Church”, “The Press”, and “The People assembled to seek redress” are SPECIFICALLY mentioned. Other _GROUPS_ are not.
It seems to me that if the corporatists want constitutional protections for corporate rights then they will need to amend the constitution to include such provisions. Because those provisions do not currently exist.
But on that score let us understand that the right of a spouse to be free from compelled testimony regarding the other spouse is NOT a constitutional right (see here). It is a LEGAL right created by common law. Attorney-client privilege, on the other hand, is based on statutory law enabled by acts of the legislature. Common law is the basis for any currently SUPPOSED corporate rights. There is no constitutional prohibition that would stop the legislature from enacting statutes that overrule common law. That is why legislatures exist. But since a legislature is empowered by the people we are not in danger of losing spousal privilege or attorney-client privilege. There is also nothing that would stop the legislature from extending the search and seizure protections of the 5th amendment to corporate bodies in such a way as to insist on a warrant. I have NO doubt that such legislation would be immediately forthcoming when it becomes clear that an amendment clarifying the constitutional facts will be presented and passed. Sorry, conservatives. All of the laws are not IN the Constitution. We have constitutionally defined and authorized bodies for that purpose, and the legislative body is superior to the judicial. In the normal course of events, should the legislature, on behalf of the people, decide that current “common law” is lacking or inappropriate, then the legislature creates statutory law to correct the problem. And the judiciary is bound by constitutional construct to abide by the legislated statutes.