Thom Hartmann’s classic work on corporate personhood
Published on Thursday, December 26, 2002 by CommonDreams.org
Sing, Dance, Rejoice-
Corporate Personhood Is Doomed
A Review of Thom Hartmann’s “Unequal Protection: the Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights”
by Richard W. Behan
Unequal Protection may prove to be the most significant book in the history of corporate personhood, a doctrine which dates to 1886. For 116 years, corporate personhood has been scrutinized and criticized, but never seriously threatened. Now Thom Hartmann has discovered a fatal legal flaw in its origin: corporate personhood is doomed.
What is “corporate personhood?” Suppose, to keep Wal-Mart at bay, your county commissioners enact an ordinance prohibiting Wal-Mart from doing business in your county. The subsequent (and immediate) lawsuit would be a slam-dunk for Wal-Mart’s lawyers, because this corporation enjoys-just as you and I do as living, breathing citizens-the Constitutional rights of “due process” and “equal protection.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is a person, not in fact, not in flesh, not in any tangible form, but in law.
To their everlasting glory, this is not what the Founding Fathers intended, as Mr. Hartmann explains in rich and engaging detail. And for 100 years after the Constitution was ratified, various governmental entities led corporations around on leashes, like obedient puppies, canceling their charters promptly if they compromised the public good in any way. The leashes broke in 1886, the puppies got away, and the public good was increasingly compromised-until it was finally displaced altogether.
Originally posted: Thom Hartmann’s classic work on corporate personhood