A friend of mine and I were discussing the concept of corporate personhood. Yeah, that’s what we talk about here in Central Vermont when we are tapped out on deer hunting, snowmobiles, and how bad mud season was last year.
Review: The Supreme Court decided in Citizens United that corporations are persons and therefore have free speech rights, which means money donating rights, which translates into tanker-loads of cash flooding our already corrupt political system.
I mentioned the sign at Occupy Wall Street that said, “I’ll believe that corporations are persons when Texas executes one.”
My friend raised the concept of corporations as persons having the right to marry. We mused on this for a moment.
I brought up the issue of same-business mergers. Would Americans support an oil company marrying another oil company?
My friend admitted that Exxon/Mobil made him uncomfortable. I had to agree. Many would say that this oil company on oil company stuff threatens and dishonors traditional mergers. I mean, Exxon/Ben & Jerry’s is normal, but Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney just creeps me out. It’s not just same-business, it is polygamy. More alarming, these same-business mergers actually hire professional firms for “recruitment.” They advertise themselves for sale in public offerings. Won’t someone think of the children?
I forget which one of us brought up jury duty. How would we handle that with, let’s say, Lockheed Martin? It employs 126,000 people in the U.S. alone. Do they all have to show up? Jury selection would be restricted to the largest sports stadiums. Can an attorney reject Lockheed Martin as a juror based on the bias of one employee, or would it have to be a majority? The interviews would take months. Does the company get shut down for the duration and get $10 a day for lunch? Or could it be just the board of directors? What if they, as one person, deliver a split decision? Or would it be the stockholders who would have to show up? This corporate personhood thing is more complex than it seems at first glance.
Under the new Defense Authorization Act, persons deemed enemy combatants, or supporters of Al Qaeda, or the brother-in-law of the best friend of the nephew of someone who once talked politics with a guy who shared an apartment with someone who donated money to an Islamic charity can be detained indefinitely without trial or appeal or habeas corpus or even being told why they are being detained.
I think that the thirteen largest banks in the U.S. have supported Al Qaeda. Maybe. Which is good enough, apparently, to have missiles shot at them from drone aircraft without a trial. Can we start with Bank of America? Detain some, blow up some others, see if I care which, as long as we cancel the mortgages and credit card debts.
There are all sorts of slings and arrows we persons have to face, a thousand ills that the flesh is heir to. It’s only fair that corporate persons should have to endure the same. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to make a legal fiction get an annual colonoscopy.