If a corporation is a person, why can't they vote? And be drafted, serve on jury duty, have the right to bear arms and only marry a corporation of the opposite sex?
If those things don't apply how can they be a person? And if that corporation is owned by one person doesn't that mean they are really two people, or one person twice?
So in my simple mind giving a corporation any rights as an individual is stupid. And dumb. And some other monosyllabic words I would bother to write.
A corporation can't vote because no one has gotten elected making the case that we need to vest the vote in corporations.
They can't be drafted because a corporation is not capable of military service.
They can't serve on juries because a corporation has no judgement, which is required to judge the facts and the law
at hand, and for the same reason as the first question.
They can't bear arms because they lack a trigger finger, and for the same reason as the first question.
They can't marry because they simply merge instead and are asexual. More or less.
They can be treated legally as a person for some purposes, but not others. We have, since 1886 when corporations were first recognized
as "persons" under the 14th amendment, decided to treat them that way mainly because that is the purpose for which they were created. The name comes from the same word as corpse, or body.
Yes, a person who is the sole owner of a corporation has, in effect, created another person for certain legal purposes, the primary one being avoidance of personal liability, but also tax reasons, etc.
Giving a corporation some of the rights of people is not dumb.
Without fourth amendment rights, the government could just wander into a corporation and search the place at will.
Without 5th amendment rights, the government could simply seize corporate property without any facade of "public use" or "just compensation."
Without property rights and contract rights, they would have a lot more trouble doing business. Corporate rights as persons are woven throughout our legal fabric, so I could go on, but I'm probably tedious already. The point is, when I see calls for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, I get the feeling that I'm trapped in a room with a chimpanzee and a very sophisticated bomb, and the little fucker is determined to try to disarm the thing. It's not going to go well.
In NAACP vs Button, the court found that the NAACP's activities (filing and winning civil rights suits) were a form of political expression and were thus protected by the first amendment. Was that really stupid? I think not. I think they were right, and that Virginia was trying to prevent those lawsuits, nipping them in the bud by cutting off access to clients. Protecting the NAACP's corporate first amendment rights was, I believe, important. I should probably note that hypothetically, they could have gone another way, in which case this whole explanation would be slightly different.
Many unions are organized as corporations and the very first sentence in the majority opinion in Citizens United says that the law is talking about corporations and unions. Not mentioned an awful lot is the fact that we are also treating unions as people. This is also not stupid. Protecting their rights has also proven important over the years. That does not mean I think that unions must be given the vote, that they must be able to marry or grow a trigger finger or take a shit.
The straw man Sol has built here appears to have taken you in, but it's deceptive. Treating a corporation as a person for certain legal purposes does not mean they must be treated exactly equally with natural persons in all cases. We have treated them as people since 1886 without treating them exactly equally, and no one is seriously advocating that we treat them exactly equally.
The majority in Citizens United DID take long steps in the direction of treating corporations and natural persons more equally for first amendment purposes. They had some good reasons, but the reasons NOT to do that are also compelling. The main one is: corporations are not equal to natural persons and should not be treated that way.
I should also point out that while this strawman of Sol's is, in my view, oversimplifying and exaggerating the issue, Justice Stevens raised the exact same issue in a slightly different (and much more sensible) way in his CU opinion. He basically said, if the majority is to be taken seriously here, that means we should probably give corporations the vote as well.
Justices do this a lot. Justice Thomas said in the Raich opinion that if the majority is to be taken seriously, the federal government can regulate potluck dinners and quilting bees. These words from distinguished judges do NOT mean that Supreme Court justices have now ruled that corporations can vote and the government can regulate absolutely anything. They're called dicta
, which roughly translates to: bullshit
. They have no legal force, but are used to make a point.
The point you have drawn from it, that "giving a corporation any rights as an individual is stupid" is a dangerous oversimplification of the issue, not to mention the intended result of the thread, IMO.