The court case that changed the world!
In 1886, the US Supreme Court ruled in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, that a private corporation was a "natural person" under the US Constitution and, therefore, protected under the 14th Amendment.
In Taking Care of Business (highly suggested), Grossman and Adams, point out that this decision was:
"the biggest blow to citizen constitutional authority".
The results of this blow
were that large corporations
were able to compete with individuals
on equal terms
, equal except for the fact that the corporations are many, many, many times huger. Besides, the idea
that the 14th Amendment, which was written/ratified in 1868 to protect freed slaves
and calls for due process
in the criminal prosecutions
, was then allowed to protect corporations is ludicrous.
60 years later, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote:
"There was no history, logic or reason given to support that view."
Further implications of the '86 ruling were that corporations were protected under the Bill of Rights, given the right to participate in elections, and allowed to lobby (a fact which seems to normal to us today).
All of this is in stark contrast to the corporations before the ruling. In order to control these unwieldy entities, they were previously given a limited duration and limited land holdings, and the state which issued the charter had the right to revoke it. (note: such proceedings can still happen today, and in fact are underway against the Phillip Morris corporation)
I realize that the notion of limiting a corporation will go against many people's very nature. However, in the sense that lawyers and lobbyists once convinced the Supreme Court to give inalienable rights to a non-person, a thing, a construct, a concept, is frightening. It is the beginning of our loss of control.