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View Diary: Corporations Are People-Excellent Legal History (9 comments)

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  •  It's a faith-based construction (0+ / 0-)

    The legal model of a corporation is as an artificial entity that separates owners from the company's operations.  There is a lot of value to such a legal construction -- try running any entity of any size as a general partnership.

    Lawyers, being terrible with the English language, needed to describe what happens when you make a contract with a corporation.  In the real world, a corporation is not a "person" in the Mitt Romney sense.  But it does need to be able to own property and sign contracts and pay bills in the name of the corporation.  Thus, the lawyers called it a "corporate person."

    The inability to distinguish between an incorporated entity and its owners is a fundamental misunderstanding of business law.  The corporation has no rights at all independent of the rights of its owners.  Now, obviously, those owners have certain rights.  You can't expropriate a corporation without compensation, not because corporations are people (because they aren't) but because its owners are, directly or indirectly, natural persons who have a right not to have their property confiscated without due process.

    The idea of "corporate people" is a fundamental part of the social and economic model of the antebellum Confederacy.  (The family unit, the man as the leader of the family unit -- assuming he owned property, otherwise he was property, are all part of this process.  (A corollary is that any organizational structure is basically a church.)   After the 14th amendment, this was a good way to try to make an end run around the new rules.

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