GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

April 16, 2013

Letter: Folly of corporate 'personhood' is clear

To the editor:

“I didn’t say that I didn’t say it. I said that I didn’t say that I said it. I want to make that very clear.”

As a candidate for president in 1968, George Romney failed to make whatever he was trying to clarify, well, clear. Oh, dear, politicians can certainly get lost in the middle of a sentence, can mis-speak, say awkward things and use incorrect words. But, can’t we all?

However, back in the sweltering summer of 1787, there assembled a group of men who did not need any such forbearance. Although debate got hot, heads stayed cool. The founders managed to make what they wanted to say very clear, in the Constitution of the United States. This is fortunate, as no one, say, confused a Bill of Attainder with a Bill of Fare. But there is plenty in the Constitution--and not in the Constitution--to dispute.

Since the Citizens United decision this has especially been so, due to much incredulity and perplexity at idea of “corporate personhood.”

This perplexity deepens when one realizes that the word “corporation” does not even appear in the Constitution, and that the “birth” of this “person” occured in a case before the Court nearly a century after ratification. However, eminent jurists like Chief Justices John Marshall and William Rehnquist, Justice Hugo Black and presidents Thomas Jefferson, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt and many others all vigorously warned about the dangers of corporate power and personhood. This is because corporations can become enormous concentrations of power and influence which is exactly why the founders fought a revolution.

Recently, “corporate personhood” has been negated by Judge Deborah Seneca in a Pennsylvania case regarding the privacy “rights’ of corporations engaged in fracking. The judge ruled the corporations had no privacy rights. They are not human beings. The court minced no words by noting that “... it is axiomatic that corporations ... have no spiritual nature, feelings, intellect, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, or sensations, because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists.”

How is that for making it very clear? This is understandable to everyone. Even I can understand it. Can you?

MICHAEL D. O’CONNOR

Rockport

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