Vermont Lawmakers Vote For Constitutional Amendment To Declare That Corporations Are Not People

In January 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee that it was unconstitutional to limit political campaign spending by corporations, thus helping to usher in the current era of the “super PAC.” Today, Vermont’s state legislature became the latest to call for an amendment to the Constitution that would overturn the controversial court ruling and declare that “money is not speech and corporations are not persons under the U.S. Constitution.”

“This resolution is a reaffirmation of the belief, shared by many Vermont communities, that corporations should not be allowed to engage in unlimited spending to unduly influence elections,” said Shap Smith, Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives, which passed the measure by a 92-40 vote. The state senate had already passed the measure last week by a vote of 26 to 3.

With today’s announcement, Vermont joins Hawaii and New Mexico in the growing grassroots movement to upend the 2010 decision. Similar measures are have made it through at least one legislative chamber in California, Alaska and Iowa.

“Most Vermonters don’t believe that the founders of our Constitution intended for business corporations, whose sole purpose is to raise money for their owners, to be able to participate, on behalf of those owners, in elections,” said state representative David Sharpe.

“Today’s passage shows that a movement for a constitutional amendment to take back our democracy has gone from being considered a ‘pipe dream’ to the mainstream. Vermonters should be proud to have a leading role in driving forward this historic movement,” says Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen.

The Vermont vote comes one day after a number of U.S. lawmakers held a summit on the growing movement for an amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee.

That original lawsuit centered around a documentary about Hillary Clinton produced by conservative group Citizens United. It had wanted to advertise the film on TV in the month leading up to the 2008 Democratic primary, but that would have been in violation of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

In a controversial 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said that portions of the BCRA violated First Amendment rights of businesses.

In writing the dissent for the court’s decision, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote:

Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.

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  1. Torchwood says:

    The most effective weapon against the corporations would be more people taking a active interest in politics and going out to vote in all of the elections. Don’t rely on the 30 second blipverts, but actually study up on the issues.

    Unfortunately, too many people are more interested in who got voted out of American Idol instead of the things that actually affect their lives.

    • Joseph S Ragman says:

      lol … been sayin’ that since that stupid-assed show first started …

      • Hotscot says:

        How the hell can they think a corporation is a person. The dumbest concept ever.

        And

        I wish ONE educated vote made a difference.

        • partofme says:

          Say it with me…. “Corporations are not individual people. They will be treated somewhat differently than individual people. Corporations are assemblies of people. They will be treated like other assemblies of people.”

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      You forgot Dancing with the Stars. I work with people who can name all the contestants, what they wore, their scores, etc. but have no idea who is running for office or what they stand for. And yes, they vote.

    • Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

      What good does voting do if all the laws, like this one, are written to empower corporations? What good is voting if all the candidates are corporate shill millionaires? How do we make the system work if it’s been broken, bought and gamed to the point where votes (and by proxy, the people) don’t matter?

      Vermont is doing the right thing here. I’m just pessimistic that it’ll do any good. You can’t fix a system this broken by using the system. You have start with a whole new system. The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      What about limited partnerships? How do we fight them?

    • Unclaoshi says:

      I totally agree with this. I also believe that people need to be aware of how their representative votes on issues and if they are unhappy with it and their state can have recall votes they need to use them.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      And “The Voice.” My wife, who has never gotten caught up in any of this American Idol/Dancing with the Stars …. detritus … seems to have become obsessed with The Voice. Where is the woman I married?

      p.s. Those shows aren’t really the detritus of society, I just don’t like them and felt like using the word detritus today.

    • jerry101 says:

      Sorry pal, I used to think that way and I wish it were true. But, the game is rigged. While certain candidates may be fairly liberal or very conservative, the Congress effectively ranges, on issues affecting big business, from right of center to far right. Individual legislators may be good (however you define good) on some issues, but the powers of big money have enough in their pocket to ensure that any legislation that harms their interests is so watered down as to be virtually ineffective and to ensure that legislation they favor gets through regardless of popular opposition. Every liberal senator, for example, is in the pocket of some industry or another. They can always muster enough votes to push through pro corporate legislation, while avoiding damaging the reputation of any legislator who will be harmed for supporting it. The only time pro corporate legislation is ever topped is when it directly harms the interests of another stron business lobby (see PIPA. Supported by Hollywood. Opposed by silicon valley.)

      I still vote, but the choices suck. The more you learn, the more depressing it gets. I say vote the worst, nastiest, most pro corporate, anti citizen legislature in possible, and he they oslo much damage that the people rise up and force one real change.

    • pop top says:

      “The most effective weapon … would be more people taking a active interest in politics…”

      Ha, you’re funny.

  2. Lucky225 says:

    That seems to run afoul of Vermont Statutes Annotated, Section 128

    § 128. Person

    “Person” shall include any natural person, corporation, municipality, the state of Vermont or any department, agency or subdivision of the state, and any partnership, unincorporated association or other legal entity. (Amended 1969, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), ¬ß 2, eff. March 24, 1970.)

    http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=01&Chapter=003&Section=00128

    • chargernj says:

      An amendment to the Vermont State Constitution would supersede a Vermont statute.

      • Lucky225 says:

        Which means all statutes that use the word “Person” are hence null and void since the definition of Person is now undefined, and/or in the alternative, such statutes now only apply to natural persons and not corporations, which will have the opposite effect of the Constitutional amendment, as corporations would hence be exempt from said statutes.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Until all said statutes are updated to reflect the new definitions. See, that was easy.

        • Difdi says:

          No, the amendment simply removes corporations from the list of Persons. How exactly does deleting a few words from a definition make actual human beings not Persons under the law?

          • Lucky225 says:

            Because, PERSON is defined to include CORPORATIONS for a reason, such as for tax liability.

            Title 37, Chapter 151

            (20) “Person” shall include an individual, firm, partnership, association, joint stock company, corporation, trust, estate or other entity.

            § 5844. Liability; penalty; trust for the state

            (a) Any person who fails to withhold the required tax or to pay it to the commissioner as required under this subchapter shall be personally and individually liable for the amount of such tax; and if the person is a corporation or other entity, the personal liability shall extend and be applicable to any officer or agent of the corporation or entity who as an officer or agent of the same is under a duty to withhold the tax and transmit it to the commissioner as required in this chapter.

            Thus is “person” does not include CORPORATIONS, then under the statutes, a CORPORATION is no longer liable under ¬ß 5844 to withhold the required tax or pay it, AGAIN, if they made a constitutional amendment that supersedes the Vermont Statutes, every statute would have to be reconstructed to include “persons” AND corporations.

            http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=32&Chapter=151&Section=05811

            • Conformist138 says:

              And the point is that this law would do a “find and delete” on the word corporation and re-add “corporation” (with its own definition) where applicable. This way, humans and corporations can be easily divided in the law. It’s actually really stupid that any law applying to a human person is automatically granted to a corporation. After all, can they legally marry?

              Yes, it is more difficult than just a blanket declaration, but this is a tiny little article, so I assume the reality is more complex.

            • Free Legal Advice! says:

              I think “entity” could replace “person” in these laws, with the corresponding change in definition that person is a human being and a corporation is a legally recongnised entity.

              It’s funny that this all started out 140 years ago as a line of tax cases and now you point to tax law as why corporation must remain people. Look up the history of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific RR. It was a US Supreme Court case decided in the 1880s and was the first to declare corporations as people for the express purpose of levying fair taxes.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          When a federal or constitution law changes, the state law does not change. No delete button, no copy paste, nothing. The law remains as is, unless the state legislature vote to change the law. This often doesn’t happen (See: silly laws in various states). However, the portion of the law trumped by federal or constitutional law becomes unenforcable by the state.
          That means that only, and I stress ONLY the word “corporation” in this case becomes null and void, but the remaining law stays in effect.

          In addition, there is likely a clause somewhere in the state legislature that says, similar to a contract, that if any portion of this law is found to be illegal or unconstitutional, the remaining pieces stay in force.

    • Guppy06 says:

      They’re talking about an amendment to the US Constitution, which trumps state constitutions.

    • jerry101 says:

      this comment is full of wrong.

      1 I don’t know much about Vermont law, but you referenced a statute. Statutes are enacted by legislatures. Legislatures can also repeal statutes, including repealing portions of statutes that they don’t like anymore.

      2 that sai, the legislation passed does nothing to change Vermont’s statute 128 (if I’m reading the story right). Instead, it is an action under the US Constitution whereby the legislatures of the states can compel the US Congress to put an amendment to the Constitution forward. I dont recall all the details from civics, but, basically, if a substantial enough number of state legislatures pass a resolution to amend the US Constitution, then the effect is the same as when Congress itself puts and amendment forward. The amendment goes to the states for ratification. Once enough states ratify, the amendment becomes effective. I don’t think any amendments were made that came from the states like this, but it’s a way to bypass the US Congress in an attempt to amend the constitution.

      3 even if the legislation passed by Vermont did affect the statute128, the word “corporation” could easily be struck while leaving the rest intact. Though, if the Vermont legislature was changing the tatute, they’d use much more detailed language than just stripping away personhood entirely from corps. The historic reason for granting corps the same status of person as actual people have is due to contract law. A person can sign a contract. A theoretical entity cannot, unless the government grants the theoretical entity such power. So, a law stripping corps of personhood status would need to be tailored to ensure that the corp could still buy and sell stuff. Otherwise, a lot of business would grind to a halt.

      • Lucky225 says:

        Yeah, I realized that, didn’t RTFA until a little bit after, but no one else seemed to either except you, so I had to keep trolling the replies that were on the assumption this modified the State Constitution and not the US constitution. :)

    • rambo76098 says:

      You’d have to also find the definitions section of Vermont law. It is very possible that “corporation” is defined in Vermont law as an “Incorporated Community” or something of the like, but not a for-profit corporation that you and I would think of.

  3. bhr says:

    I’m ok with limiting corporate speech, just as soon as they do the same to unions that don’t poll their membership before endorsing candidates.

    • CanadianDominic says:

      I’m Canadian, but we have similar union-election mingling here, and I don’t understand how a member of any union just doesnt lie?

      “Oh, Union Leader, you want me to vote for Candidate X? Sure! I definitely will. (Votes for candidate Z once inside the polling booth) “

      It’s absurd.

      • Dr. Eirik says:

        The issue isn’t so much telling the union boss who you voted for, but rather that unions will endorse whoever the leadership wants (usually democrats) without asking their membership. That endorsement often includes a lot of work pushing a candidate, such as get-out-the-vote efforts, advertising, etc.

    • Matthew PK says:

      That would be an interesting change, considering unions are among the largest political donors in the country.

      • MeowMaximus says:

        Unions should NOT be allowed to donate to political parties, or pressure their members to do so. Public Unions should not be allowed to exist.

        • MMD says:

          It’s so annoying when public employees expect to be paid like the professionals they are and want to have a say in their working conditions. Public employees should be the taxpayers’ SLAVES!

          • Cerne says:

            No they should just have the same pay and benefits as someone working an equivalent position in the private sector. The same job security rules too.

            • incident_man says:

              Hate to tell you, but most state workers earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

              • MMD says:

                True. But I’m sure Cerne doesn’t appreciate your facts getting in the way of his argument.

                I earn about 60% of the salary of someone doing my job in the private sector. The better benefits help make up for that.

              • Starrion says:

                That was true once, but the public sector continues to get raises that most private sector employees haven’t seen in a long time.

                The defined benefit pensions, sick time and vacation time accrual and health benefits are things that management in the private sector have eliminated or reduced in the Great Recession.
                When my wife goes back to work after the kids are in school we will be looking for a muni IT position for her.

              • Matthew PK says:

                Your compensation isn’t limited to the check that gets written.

              • Cerne says:

                Compare total compensation and you’re absolutely wrong.

          • Doubting thomas says:

            The primary difference between a public and a private union is that the private union can only negotiate for a share of the profits from the company. If they try to take too much they kill the company and negotiate themselves out of a job. (what the UAW would have done of it weren’t for bailouts). A public sector union doesn’t have that same limitation.

        • Dre' says:

          I agree, let’s just throw that whole freedom of association thing out the window while we are at it.

    • mrstu says:

      Um…. they do… unions were subject to the same rules regarding political advertising as corportations before citizens united, and they still are after. Try again.

    • jerry101 says:

      Ha! Unions are the most over regulated, controlled entities around. If corporations were subject to the kinds of legal restrictions and controls that are placed on unions, then.. I don’t even know what to compare it to… Well…costs would spiral out of control for starters. Unions are subject to immense regulation and restriction on everything they do.

      And, unions are corporations, too. Not stock issuing corps, but not-for-profit corporations. Subject to the same laws and regs as a for profit corp, and then a whole lot more. The 1st amendment rights of unions have been legislated and regulated away for years. Unions have very little power, and, as a group, spend FAR less on campaign money and work than the corporate sector. Banks, oil companies, the healthcare industry, etc all have substantially more influence than unions.

  4. partofme says:

    Say it with me…. “Corporations are not individual people. They will be treated somewhat differently than individual people. Corporations are assemblies of people. They will be treated like other assemblies of people.”

    • Cerne says:

      And exactly what rights to people loose when they act as a group?

      • partofme says:

        On the contrary, what is important for the current popular discourse are the rights they don’t lose when they act as a group. Namely, the rights of speech and petition.

    • Blackadar says:

      No, a corporation is a for-profit entity. As such, it’s simply not a collection of individuals.

      • partofme says:

        How does that in any way a meaningful distinction? All kinds of assemblies are for-(insert thing here) entities. Don’t confuse things you don’t like with Constitutionally relevant distinctions.

  5. cspschofield says:

    My but the “Campaign Finance Reform” crusaders are DESPERATE to keep people from clubbing together to have an effect on elections. I wonder why that should be so? Could it be that they are mostly politicians who get the majority of their donations from the very rich or from Unions that (want to bet?) won’t be affected?

    I have NEVER been able to see how ANY law that limits how citizens can spend their money to promote certain politics can pass Constitutional muster.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Probably because of the notion that while many (hundreds, even thousands) of individuals can work to grow a corporation, almost none of them will have a say at all in what politics the company supports. So, a corporation can lobby for rules or politicians that directly harm the employees that worked to get the money in the door in the first place. Each of us as individuals has the rights to do all sorts of things. By also allowing corporate money that is not the property of a single individual, it effectively gives richer people MORE ‘speech’ (power) than even they would have had on income alone. Basically, the people deciding where to donate corporate money generally already have more personal cash than most of us, yet somehow they claim it a violation of their rights to not ALSO use business money this way.

      I would understand more if they were required to poll employees so the money we make for the company isn’t immediately sent to candidates that would like to abolish minimum wage or equal pay laws. But, when the idea of polling ever comes up, corporate lobbyists consider taking into account the beliefs and political ideology of employees to ALSO be a violation of their rights. It’s convenient that it’s only a matter of freedom of speech if a select few people in the company are the ones making every decision about political contributions. Anything else (saying corporations cannot make political donations, or saying all employees get an equal say) is considered tyranny.

      • cspschofield says:

        The problem, and the comments here illustrate it well, is that when you say “Corporation”, people think of “Ford Motor Company”, not “Citizens United For Clean Water”. But the latter may be a corporation. Indeed, it probably makes sense for it to be a corporation. So the Vermont lawmakers are either dumb as posts, or they are trying to keep people from banding together to make their voices louder. And if the second is the case, then deep fat frying is too good for them.

        • Conformist138 says:

          I refer you to paragraph two of my comment: why not company polling or voting? If the ‘group’ is going to spend money to try and shape the political landscape, it should be done democratically. That way not-for-profit corps and others can still spend what they want since their membership is likely united, but it prevents the big for-profits from using money on politics that hurt their employees or that their employees have moral objections to.

          Honestly, if a company was required to make their donations based on how all employees vote (with the stockboy getting the same vote as the CEO), it might be interesting to see how the money shifts.It’s also not impossible to give money to more than one side, so a 45%-55% split on anything could actually be divided that way). It seems wrong that a for-profit company can claim to be “just a group of people” when getting people on their side, but when it comes to that actual group of people having any say in the decisionmaking, watch the execs squirm.

          And I’m not just saying that if my own side comes out ahead. If it turns out that 99% of Walmart employees really love conservative think-tanks, then by all means enjoy. Actually, I’m willing to bet, given the option, a lot of employees would vote for “stop giving money to already wealthy politicians or on divisive ads that annoy the crap out of us during Law & Order, and use the cash to unfreeze our wages!”

          • partofme says:

            Do other assemblies have to check with all of its members first? What about fringe members or contractors? Could the oil industry just have a bunch of people join greenpeace and then vote the other way? Every single assembly is going to have some manner of dissent on some portion of the assembly’s public speech. There is no reason they have to run every statement by the whole group. The president of my university sure as hell doesn’t check if I or other employees agree with what he or the university says.

  6. GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

    Can’t a group get around this by utilizing wealthy individuals with access thus landing us in the same place? Also, larger companies owners are the stockholders. And if you have a retirement plan then that could be any of us. I applaud the effort but people always seem to find a way. I wonder if the root cause is that politicians can apparently be bought. I mean, if they couldn’t, would anyone give them all that money?

  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    “Most Vermonters don’t believe that the founders of our Constitution intended for business corporations, whose sole purpose is to raise money for their owners, to be able to participate, on behalf of those owners, in elections,” said state representative David Sharpe.

    THANK you. I’m glad someone understands that corporations aren’t in business to be charities, to hire people and give them insurance and a good living, to “help” people, etc. etc. Mr. Sharpe still remembers what he learned in his very first business class in college.

    • partofme says:

      So does an assembly of people have to be a charity, give people insurance and a good living, help people, or do any of those things on your list as a prereq for having speech rights? I could try to list other assemblies that likely don’t meet all of your qualifications, but since the list is et ceterated out, I got distracted before I could finish checking all the undefined qualities. Ya see, me and my buddy Joe are planning to assemble and protest fun. But now I’m not so sure I have that right anymore…

    • MMD says:

      Can’t there be a middle ground between a corporation being a charity for hiring, etc. and a corporation actively exploiting its employees?

      • Bativac says:

        No, actually – the only purpose of the corporation is to make money for its owners. I’m not calling it good or bad, but that’s all it exists to do, and the employees are simply part of the money-making mechanism.

        • cspschofield says:

          Well, not quite. A corporation may, because of the owner’s priorities, in fact exist to create jobs and give people health care insurance. But that is not the intent of the legal structure, it’s purely a decision by the owner(s).

    • tooluser says:

      Similarly, then, no sitting politician should be allowed to be involved in politics.

  8. tooluser says:

    I would turn this on its head, and make the corporate officers the actual body of the corporation. So you want to be CEO? Great! You are now personally responsible for all debts and actions of your company and its employees. One of your employees does something illegal on the job — you go to jail instead of them.

    Of course, corporations were invented for the sole purpose of avoiding this situation.

    • voogru says:

      And guess what the end result of that will be?

      You’ll never be able to get a job. Because if they can be put in jail for what you do, they will never hire someone that they do not personally know as a friend.

      Too risky.

      You think unemployment is bad now? You ain’t seen nothin’

    • Bsamm09 says:

      When these big corporations were just starting out, the owners were liable for the debts of the company. Try and get a loan for a small business with out that. When you have a big enough company that it is now a publicly traded company, they have assets and a track history that allows a bank to not need the officers to be personally liable.

      The second part of you comment was just asinine. Why should an officer of the company go to jail if an employee commits a crime? (Unless they personally order the employee to commit a crime) If you want the CEO to take on that kind of liability, you better be prepared to turn over a lot more than your facebook passwords.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Corporate officers already must do this, just not on an individual employee scale.

      CFO’s, for example, are responsible for the finances of the company even for portion they themselves do not calculate. They must sign off on it and take responsibility.

  9. tooluser says:

    Voting knowledgeably is also the most effective weapon against governments that are out of control. (At least in the USA.)

  10. voogru says:

    Hay guys!!!!1111oneone

    Newsflash: If corporations aren’t people, they do not have any constitutional rights whatsoever. You know what that means?

    No due process of law.

    If the government wants the stuff of a corporation, no need to get the justice system involved. Just take it.

    Be careful what you wish for. Imagine republicans being able to confiscate everything from ThinkProgress and MoveOn.org. After all, they are corporations!

    • voogru says:

      I’ll go even a step further.

      Not only would they be able to do that, but they’d be able to take over a business, say, a union shop. Fire all of the union employees and break all of their contracts with the corporation.

      After all, you can’t contract with something that’s not a legal person. Workers rights? Hahahahaha, how quaint.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • cromartie says:

        Corporations exist as a matter of state charter. If a state revokes a charter, which they have the right to do though California hasn’t done so since 1976, the corporation ceases to exist. These laws are already on the books, personhood equivalency or no personhood equivalency.

    • ARP says:

      Most states can revoke corporate charters. It’s almost never been done, but they have that right.

      They can’t take them over, they can only dissolve them, so all the assets would go to shareholders. But nice try. Freedom of association is very different than being able to limit your liability for your actions through that association.

      • voogru says:

        Because corporations are shells that allow people like Bernie Madoff to get away with fraud!

        The government could not prosecute him because he was working as a corporation!

        Oh wait, what I just said is totally nonsense.

        Which means what you just said is totally nonsense.

        Corporations are not shields from criminal wrongdoing. A corporation is a piece of paper. Corporations can’t break the law.

        Only people in the corporation can break the law, and they can be held accountable. And guess what, the corporations assets can be used to pay for damages. How awesome is that?

        To say that a corporation can break the law, is like saying your car could break the law. No, you can break the law when driving your car. But a car by itself can never break the law.

        It was a nice try though to assume that you can shield yourself from criminal liability with a corporation, but you lose. You get nothing.

        Good day sir.

        • ARP says:

          Look up criminal v. civil and get back to me. Also look up how individual actions, while not criminal in themselves can become criminal when combined. It’s part of the reason that RICO (that and the mob) were passed.

  11. Guppy06 says:

    There are two ways to amend the US Constitution: a supermajority in Congress can propose individual amendments, or a supermajority of the state legislatures can call for an independent convention to propose new amendments.

    So far, only the former has been done. The last time the latter option was attempted, the convention opted to ditch the Articles of Confederation outright, bringing us an entirely new constitution.

    This Vermont resolution has been very carefully crafted to make a “request” of Congress, and avoids the dreaded “constitutional convention” phrase. But I have to wonder how long this tone will continue. In the case of the Twentieth Amendment, which directly affected the terms of Members of Congress, the states ended up having to play a bit of brinksmanship, with Congress ultimately racing to get ahead of the states to get the amendment before them.

    Is Congress (or their paymasters) willing to jeopardize our entire form of government over Citizens United?

  12. Preyfar says:

    I’m proud my extended family are Vermonters.

    Makes me want to move back to South Burlington.

  13. Rena says:

    Um, why are corporations allowed to pay for political campaigns at all?

    • cromartie says:

      Free Speech. They’re people. The solution to the problems of campaign funding are threefold:

      1) Extend house terms by one year, to three years, so house members don’t spend have a full time job of raising campaign funds with a part time fund of being a house member. (Requires a change to the constitution).

      2) Compel broadcasters, as a condition of maintaining their license, to give a fixed, limited amount of advertising to candidates themselves. (As the NAB is going to rake in approximately $3.1 billion in advertising revenue this cycle, this too is unlikely).

      3) Publicly fund campaigns in the manner that Canada does and limit candidate spending to this amount. (Reasonably speaking, this is likely unconstitutional, as one can reasonably conclude that political contributions infringe upon freedom of expression/free speech).

      4)Undo Citizens United’s idea that corporations are people and can contribute to campaigns directly accordingly.

      All plausible solutions, non of them plausible under American law.

  14. Lucky225 says:

    Article 1, Section 2, US CONSTITUTION

    Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons

    So corporations are not FREE persons or Indians not taxed. Oh… so that’s what 3/5ths of “all other Persons” means, see it had nothing to do with slavery.

  15. arcticJKL says:

    Can we add unions to that as well.

  16. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Good luck with getting 38 states to agree with that. LOL.

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Vermont, you just got a bit more cool.

  18. aerodawg says:

    Only persons can hold title to (own) things.

    If corporations are not persons, legal or otherwise, corporations cannot hold title to things.

    If corporations cannot own things for the shareholders, then the shareholders who are persons must own these things.

    Which leads to some absurd conditions, like titles to property that list every shareholder and are 10,000 pages long, that need to be changed every time a share of stock changes hands.

    But nah, we’ll just toss out 300 years of legal precedent that was put into place for very good reasons because we don’t like one SCOTUS case…

  19. oldwiz65 says:

    Good for them!

    Unfortunately corporations have already bought and own many state legislators and most of the members of the U.S. Congress.

  20. Jimmy37 says:

    It’s said to read the ignorant comments that keep talking curtailing corporate rights.

    If the law says that a corporation is a person, and Congress is given the right to decide what a person is entitled to, then it seems reasonable that corporations should enjoy all the rights and priviledges of personhood.

    This has nothing to do with how much you like or hate a corporation. If you don’t want a corporation to have these rights, change the law.

    When judges come out and tell you what they want out of law, they have proven their bias and should immediately recuse themselves.

    • ARP says:

      Congress changed the law and it was struck down by SCOTUS who decided that corporations have a constitutional right to free speech, not just statutory.

  21. britswim04 says:

    Who do I write to to get this done?

  22. Jerem43 says:

    The easiest way to take care of this is to put forth an Amendment that says:

    “Only individuals who are citizens of the United States, whether natural born or naturalized, that have reached the age of majority as set forth by this Constitution and are registered to vote may participate within the electoral process of the United States.

    For the purpose of this Amendment, no individual with significant capacity shall be denied the right to vote, be cast from the rolls of enlisted voters without their informed consent, or be denied the right to vote due to their legal status.

    Legal entities shall not be granted the right to vote within this Constitution or through legislation and shall not be granted the same rights as the individual for the purpose of this Amendment.”

    That should cover most of what is needed and prevent some of the legislative shenanigans of lobbyists and the state and federal legislatures. It also allows states to prevent individuals that lack the significant mentally capacity to put forth an informed vote. Of course, that would prevent the vast majority of Americans from voting…

  23. bwcbwc says:

    I don’t think whether “corporations are people” is a big question. The issue is whether the political speech of corporations is protected under freedom of association doctrines of the constitution. I would assert that the “limited liability” nature of a corporation precludes such an entity from having the same protection of association rights as a different organizational structure. If you want to make political speech, you should back it the same way the founding fathers did, with your “lives, fortunes and sacred honor”. Only if you take full responsibility and liability for your speech do you get the full right of freedom of speech. Corporations have too many tools at hand to dilute responsibility for their actions.

  24. soj4life says:

    These laws will likely be heard by the same court that made the original decision. Until scalia and thomas are gone from a bench, this will fall on deaf ears.

  25. TastyWheat says:

    Corporations aren’t buying my vote. I feel sorry for you if you take every ad you see as fact.

    Nobody ever has the discussion, however, as to why corporations and unions are trying to “buy” votes. If Presidents and Congressman had only a fraction of the power they do now, it would be a waste of time to spend so much money on lobbying and PACs. We let the Constitution be trampled on by the legislators, far worse than any judge, and all we can complain about is how the corporations and unions are exploiting a system the legislators made to be exploitable.