Are corporations "people"? (1 Viewer)

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UncleTrvlingJim

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So, I'm intending this as something of a technical discussion. I think legally, they are considered persons, but what does that mean? What rights do they have and what responsibilities do they have?

They don't have the right to vote, so are they citizens? I think I'm confused on their legal status for a bunch of different things and why that is.

And then there is a discussion on what are the benefits and what are the costs of considering corporations as people.
 

samiam5211

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And if they are people, are they citizens?

Do the have a right to privacy?

Do they need a passport?

A corporation might exist for hundreds of years many times the average human lifetime. In a way giving them human rights makes them superhuman.

I think we need to come up with some type of regulation (or constitutional amendment) to protect the rights of the individuals represented be a corporation or any group without giving personhood to an entity that exists independent of any person currently involved. Ford has outlived everyone who ever built a model T.
 
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UncleTrvlingJim

UncleTrvlingJim

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So, can you elaborate on that? I mean, I know they aren't biological, but clearly they have some legal status as a person by law. I was looking into what is the extent of that status, and why.

There's a lot I don't understand about the specific legality of the personhood of corporations, so I was looking for a legal discussion of what it is right now, and if we ought to modify it, what should we modify it to, and what would be the ramifications.
 

dtc

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So, I'm intending this as something of a technical discussion. I think legally, they are considered persons, but what does that mean? What rights do they have and what responsibilities do they have?

They don't have the right to vote, so are they citizens? I think I'm confused on their legal status for a bunch of different things and why that is.

And then there is a discussion on what are the benefits and what are the costs of considering corporations as people.
A corporation is a legally recognized entity formed by people for specific endeavors. They are a means to protect actual people from liability. Artificial, legally recognized entities. At the base of this discussion should be whether it is human and corporations are not. They are nothing more than fictitious entities combining assets generally for the purpose of profit. That's not a person and should not be afforded rights other than those prescribed by the law and should have zero rights of personhood.
 
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JimEverett

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I am interested in this as well because I have never understood what the real problem is.

Corporate personhood has been an important vehicle in bringing incredible material wealth - in that it allows individuals to pool their wealth and have legal protection of their investment. You cannot do that without granting certain rights to corporate entities.

To make the point by not including corporations that some people might think of as "evil" or something - consider the production and distribution of art. Books would be subject to regulation, for instance, as long as some sort of organized entity had a hand in its publication or distribution. Same with movies, museums, television shos, etc.
Or consider the New York Times/WaPo, MSNBC . . . . .
 
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Archies Ghost

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The idea of corporate personhood is very important under US law.

Without it, otherwise simple transactions become incredibly complex. The ability to sue a corporation is based upon its legal person status.

Corporations have rights as legal persons but certainly not all the rights of a natural person. Essentially, a corporate person has the same rights as any other association of individuals.
 

GMRfellowtraveller

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I am interested in this as well because I have never understood what the real problem is.

Corporate personhood has been an important vehicle in bringing incredible material wealth - in that it allows individuals to pool their wealth and have legal protection of their investment. You cannot do that without granting certain rights to corporate entities.

To make the point by not including corporations that some people might think of as "evil" or something - consider the production and distribution of art. Books would be subject to regulation, for instance, as long as some sort of organized entity had a hand in its publication or distribution. Same with movies, museums, television shos, etc.
Or consider the New York Times/WaPo, MSNBC . . . . .
before i proceed let me ask you or anyone - is a church a person why/why not?
 

N.O.Bronco

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I know this may come off rude, but wouldn’t something like this probably be a better avenue for this conversation than likely many of us could provide? I started writing a response earlier but felt like I would just be better off posting a link like this and then checking in to see if I had the requisite knowledge if an additional question or discussion popped up:

 

JimEverett

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before i proceed let me ask you or anyone - is a church a person why/why not?
I am not really interested in definitions. A church, as a legal entity, has certain rights and privileges just as an individual has. But those rights and privileges are completely co-extensive.

i think people get too caught up in the idea of an entity being a "person" as the word is used in "normal" language as opposed to the word being used in the field of law.
 
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superchuck500

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A corporation is a legally recognized entity formed by people for specific endeavors. They are a means to protect actual people from liability but are artificial, but legally recognized entities. At the base of this discussion should be whether it is human and corporations are not. They are nothing more than fictitious entities combining assets generally for the purpose of profit. That's not a person and should not be afforded rights other than those prescribed by the law governing non-person corporations.
Making a distinction between the rights and authorities of natural persons (i.e. humans) and juridical persons (e.g. corporations) is not without precedent. For example, juridical persons can’t adopt a child.

So it’s not without foundation to say there are other things we don’t think juridical persons can do.
 

The moose

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it is just so the corporation can enter a contract and only the corporation will be on the hook. Not the rich guys owning and controlling said corporation will be on the hook just the corporate assets.

That is how you are supposed think.

Not I am hobby lobby and a religious artifacts freak so hobby lobby thinks like me and you don't get birth control!
 

V Chip

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I guess I don’t get why leaders/decision makers of a corporation *should* be protected/shielded from liability. They absolutely shouldn’t IMO. Can anyone explain the reasoning for that?
 

JimEverett

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I guess I don’t get why leaders/decision makers of a corporation *should* be protected/shielded from liability. They absolutely shouldn’t IMO. Can anyone explain the reasoning for that?
I may be wrong on this - but I don't think there is anything necessary about the corporate form that limits the personal liability of management (as opposed to owners). I mean I understand that there is no personal liability for corporate debts that is in the nature of corporate form, but not of specific acts by an officer of the company.
For example - I know that California allows for officers of a company (as well as employees) to be sued personally for employment discrimination. Contrast that with federal law that only allows for a cause of action against the company. But that is a legislative decision - not something that seems to follow from the corporate form itself.

I think the idea of limiting personal liability with respect to corporate debts should be obvious. It is the owners who hired the management and approved the board, and therefore absent some specific illegal act - bad management should not result in personal liability.
 

GMRfellowtraveller

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I am not really interested in definitions. A church, as a legal entity, has certain rights and privileges just as an individual has. But those rights and privileges are completely co-extensive.

i think people get too caught up in the idea of an entity being a "person" as the word is used in "normal" language as opposed to the word being used in the field of law.
c'mon Jim, you as much as anyone is a stickler for terms and for narrowing the scope of definitions when broader applications of those do not suit your argument
as the word implies. a corporation is an assemblage of bodies - a collective but not a unit - like a team
so i can see why it could have some privileges that go with a large group having a predominance about a certain topic -but am individual right? no, that makes no sense
 

JimEverett

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c'mon Jim, you as much as anyone is a stickler for terms and for narrowing the scope of definitions when broader applications of those do not suit your argument
as the word implies. a corporation is an assemblage of bodies - a collective but not a unit - like a team
so i can see why it could have some privileges that go with a large group having a predominance about a certain topic -but am individual right? no, that makes no sense
No, the notion of legal corporate personhood does not mean the same thing as "person" as used outside the legal context. That is what I meant.

But let me ask you: should the New York Times have a right to free speech?
 

superchuck500

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I may be wrong on this - but I don't think there is anything necessary about the corporate form that limits the personal liability of management (as opposed to owners). I mean I understand that there is no personal liability for corporate debts that is in the nature of corporate form, but not of specific acts by an officer of the company.
For example - I know that California allows for officers of a company (as well as employees) to be sued personally for employment discrimination. Contrast that with federal law that only allows for a cause of action against the company. But that is a legislative decision - not something that seems to follow from the corporate form itself.

I think the idea of limiting personal liability with respect to corporate debts should be obvious. It is the owners who hired the management and approved the board, and therefore absent some specific illegal act - bad management should not result in personal liability.
Yes, the corporate liability protections only extend to liabilities that are exclusive to the company. It doesn’t extend to joint liabilities.

So for most/all contractual debts, those are executed in the corporate form - and the principals aren’t obligated, and that’s really what it’s for (along with property/rights ownership and some tax implications). But if a situation is such that the principal is personally involved, they can’t hide behind the corporate shield. For example, if a BP director told the Deepwater Horizon drill team to disregard the pressure test and seal the well, he could be fully individually liable even though he was in the scope of his official capacity with the corporation - because it was his active negligence that caused the loss.
 

The moose

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Yes, the corporate liability protections only extend to liabilities that are exclusive to the company. It doesn’t extend to joint liabilities.

So for most/all contractual debts, those are executed in the corporate form - and the principals aren’t obligated, and that’s really what it’s for (along with property/rights ownership and some tax implications). But if a situation is such that the principal is personally involved, they can’t hide behind the corporate shield. For example, if a BP director told the Deepwater Horizon drill team to disregard the pressure test and seal the well, he could be fully individually liable even though he was in the scope of his official capacity with the corporation - because it was his active negligence that caused the loss.

Thanks
 

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