Most concerned voters regard the Citizens United v. FEC decision (2010) as a disaster for our already beleaguered electoral process because it allows corporations – not just individuals – to donate to political campaigns. Not content to leave the matter there, the Supreme Court did further damage earlier this year in McCutcheon v. FEC which eliminated any upper limit on how much a given donor – individual or corporation – can contribute to political campaigns in a given election period.
I checked the Citizen’s Clean Elections Commission website this morning, and it says that this act was passed to, quote, ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to running for office. Why isn’t that clear evidence that it’s unconstitutional?” So much for the century-long effort of liberals and progressives to accomplish that democratic goal.In this context, the attack on corporate personhood is a red herring. Of course corporations are not natural persons; that is a necessary truth. Corporations are creations of a legal system and could not exist without it. And they lack many of the essential properties of a natural person, among them, they don’t have their own ideas, make their own choices, feel regret over their unsuccessful investments and cannot be thrown in jail. But that said, it does not follow that corporations cannot legitimately possess some kinds of legal rights. Indeed, they could not function without legal rights to make contracts, own property, sue other corporations, etc. But it does not follow by any stretch that because they have some legal rights they must have all the legal rights of natural persons, including the right to contribute to political campaigns.
Department of Philosophy