Liberals are no doubt cheering, but those concerned with the existence of freedom and free markets ought to be disappointed.
WASHINGTON — In her maiden Supreme Court appearance last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a provocative comment that probed the foundations of corporate law.
During arguments in a campaign-finance case, the court’s majority conservatives seemed persuaded that corporations have broad First Amendment rights and that recent precedents upholding limits on corporate political spending should be overruled.
But Justice Sotomayor suggested the majority might have it all wrong — and that instead the court should reconsider the 19th century rulings that first afforded corporations the same rights flesh-and-blood people have.
Judges “created corporations as persons, gave birth to corporations as persons,” she said. “There could be an argument made that that was the court’s error to start with…[imbuing] a creature of state law with human characteristics.”
After a confirmation process that revealed little of her legal philosophy, the remark offered an early hint of the direction Justice Sotomayor might want to take the court.
“Progressives who think that corporations already have an unduly large influence on policy in the United States have to feel reassured that this was one of [her] first questions,” said Douglas Kendall, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.
I’ve always felt that corporations are people. Because people create corporations. People manage corporations. Corporations represent the combined interests of a group of people. And so of course corporations have rights. They are imbued with the same rights the people who create them and manage them and hold stock in them have.
Really, corporations are no different than political parties or activist groups like MoveOn.org or labor unions in that they are simply people working together for a common purpose. But I’m guessing that Justice Sotomayor doesn’t feel that way. I’m guessing that she sees no problem in the SEIU having rights, but not Exxon.
Because that’s, uh, different.