Saturday, January 21, 2012

Deceptive, Dubious and Dishonest Origins of Corporate Personhood

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The origins of 'corporate personhood' are dubious, suspicious, crooked! 'Corporate personhood' derived from an informal note from a CLERK:
"The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
There are many things wrong with this statement. For a start, the 14th states clearly that its intention is to forbid a state " deny to any person ...equal protection of the law." To apply this to coporations assumes that corporations are people to begin with. Logicians call this a circulus en probando fallacy i.e, a circular argument! Lawyers would say that it 'assumes facts not in evidence'! Specifically , it 'assumes' that corporations are people under the 14th and does so in order to prove that 'corporations are people'. Thus an assumption becomes the premise that 'proves' the assumption; in this case an 'assumption' that 'corporations are people'! In fact, corporations are NOT entitled to the protections of the 14th because they are not, in fact, people!

A political agenda was at work! It is in the interests of the 'corporate party' [GOP] that corporations, their benefactors, be considered people. It is in the interests of this corporate party that corporations be granted privileges which, as mere legal abstractions, they would not, do not in any way deserve or warrant! In this way, I can prove almost anything,however fallacious, however stupid, however backward.

The GOP has learned to hide their 'assumptions' among the panoply of crap that is believed by the GOP rank and file in order to feel good about themselves. In fact, this fallacy would not survive a first semester logic course at university; this fallacy would not survive a sophomore high school debate coach.

Again --the right wing is severely, endemically confused about cause and effect, about premises and conclusions. A conclusion cannot be a rationale for a premise! A conclusion may not precede a premise. "One" precedes "two" and 'causes' --without fail --always precede their effects.

'Corporate personhood' was a desired result! One senses desperation at work. Failing authoritative sources --say --the U.S. Constitution or previous decisions of the high court, the five desperadoes, otherwise disguised as 'justices' seized upon whatever sounded good. Scalia is expert at this. His rationale for Bush v Gore, for example, was just as fallacious --a circulus en probando fallacy.
" count first and rule upon legality afterwards is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires."

--Antonin Scalia, CNN Transcripts, December 11, 2000, Supreme Court Bush v. Gore
The effect was simply this: the re-count was halted while Bush was still ahead! If this fallacy, which in fact works backward from a foregone conclusion, is the basis for SCOTUS's 'corporate personhood' decree then we must conclude that valid opinions of and by real jurists and past courts, several hundred years of jurisprudential traditions dating back to MAGNA CARTA mean nothing to Scalia! In better times, Scalia would have been called out, challenged, tarred, perhaps feathered, made to squawk while flapping his flabby arms.

Five republicans on SCOTUS have nothing but contempt for the concept of 'equal protection under the law' guaranteed to all citizens via the 14th Amendment'. They are contemptuous of the Bill of Rights in general.
"Of the cases in this court in which the 14th Amendment was applied during its first fifty years after its adoption, less than one half of one percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than fifty percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations"

--Justice Hugo Black 1938*
The Fourteenth Amendment was one of three amendments to the Constitution adopted after the Civil War to guarantee black rights. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth granted citizenship to people once enslaved, and the Fifteenth guaranteed black men the right to vote. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress in June 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868. The Radical Republicans had been battling with Andrew Johnson for control of Reconstruction. Johnson was in favor of leaving the future of black people in the hands of white Southerners.
The Radical Republicans disagreed, and they won. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States and prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the U.S., depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ("No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.") With the exception of Tennessee, the Southern states refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. The Republicans then passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which set the conditions the Southern states had to accept before they could be readmitted to the union, including ratification of the 14th Amendment.

Since Reconstruction, the Fourteenth Amendment -- especially the equal protection clause -- has been applied to a number of cases. It emerged in the famous Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka when the United States Supreme Court used the Fourteenth Amendment as one of its rationales for declaring school segregation unconstitutional.
--Why the progress made by blacks during Reconstruction was seen as a threat by whites, Richard Wormser
In 1971, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Reed v. Reed. Sally Reed had sued when Idaho law presumed that her estranged husband should be automatically selected as executor of the estate of their son, who had died without naming an executor. The Idaho law stated that "males must be preferred to females" in choosing estate administrators.

The Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, decided that the Fourteenth Amendment did prohibit such unequal treatment on the basis of sex -- the first US Supreme Court decision to apply the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause to gender or sexual distinctions. Later cases have refined the application of the Fourteenth Amendment to sex discrimination, but it was more than 100 years after passage of the Fourteenth Amendment before it was applied to women's rights.

-Jone Johnson Lewis, Women's Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment - Finally Applied, Reed v. Reed and Roe v. Wade, Findlaw