One of the two key citations in the Constitution bearing on whether a corporation is a ‘person’ under the Constitution is the 14th Amendment, which contains four sentences employing the word “person[s]” – (the two sentences that constitute section 1, and the opening sentences in each of sections 2 and 3). The 14th Amendment was cited in the preface to an 1886 Supreme Court case. This preface was later exploited to massively rewrite corporate law using the unjustifiable legal theory that a corporation is a Constitutional ‘person’.
Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. (Etc…)
Section 3: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath… as an officer of the United States … or of any state … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same… (Etc…)
[The words above in bold letters are excerpted directly, verbatim, from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution]
A brief explanation of each use of the word ‘person’ in the 14th Amendment follows:
- The first sentence of section 1 outlined (notably, for the first time, ever!) the Constitutional right of a ‘person‘ to be or to become a ‘citizen’ of the United States.
- The first clause of the 2nd sentence of section 1 protected “the privileges or immunities of citizens” from action by any of the states of the United States, and did not mention the word ‘person’ – although the preceding sentence did establish that citizens are ‘persons‘.
- The second and third clauses of the last sentence of section 1 established (also for the first time!) the rights of ‘any person‘ to due process of law and to equal protection of the laws against adverse action by any of the states of the United States.
- The first sentence of section 2 of the Amendment specified the enumeration of ‘persons‘ for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress, revising the way that such enumeration was originally defined when it was first mandated in Article I Section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution. It is of surpassing importance to note that both those who ratified the Constitution, and those who 80 years later ratified this 14th Amendment, explicitly named specific categories of ‘persons‘ in defining this official enumeration for apportionment of Congress. And further note that, while indicating that certain categories of ‘Persons’ are different from other categories, the overall classification ‘Person’ – the word ‘Person’ itself – in the precise meaning of the Constitution, has always included women; it included people who did not own property; it included slaves, children, indentured servants, Indians, free Africans, Asians. The word ‘Person’ even included white men who wore wigs and owned property! “Indians not taxed” were ‘Persons’, but they were not counted for purposes of apportioning Congressional representation. “All other Persons” were slaves who were counted as three-fifths of a ‘Person’ for apportioning Congress. Women and children and prisoners were always and are now each counted as one ‘Person’ for purposes of apportionment. The term ‘Persons’ used by both the original text of Article I Section 2, and by the 14th Amendment, referred to ALL human beings, at the very least – even though such ‘persons’ might not be free, might not be able to vote, might not be a citizen, might not be white or own property, might be a child or a woman. But do not overlook the incontrovertible fact that neither in 1789 (in Article I Section 2) nor in 1868 (in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment) were any corporations or other non-human legal entities de-listed, excepted, omitted, or otherwise explicitly exempted by the Constitution, or by any court order, from this counting of the ‘persons’.
- The first sentence of section 3 prohibited any ‘person‘ who had engaged in insurrection against the United States, after having taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, from holding any office under the United States, or any state of the United States.
In plain simple language, if corporations (or their predecessors, chartered companies) were actually ‘Persons’ in the meaning of the Constitution, then the Constitution mandated that they be actually counted as ‘Persons’, starting in 1790, and every ten years thereafter, for the purpose of apportioning Congress. But, of course, we all know that never happened. We are forced to conclude either that the Constitution (in accord with our own language and with universal common sense) has never considered anything other than living human beings to be ‘Persons’… or that the apportioning of representation in the Congress itself – and thus our own federal government – has been in undetected but continuous blatant violation of that clear Constitutional mandate since 1790.
Not convinced? Read Article I Section 2 paragraph 3, and then come back here. Are artificial legal entities “free Persons”? If so, they are mandated to be counted for apportionment – but of course, they have never been. Are they “Indians not taxed”? That would be an outrageous claim by desperate corporate hacks and lawyers. If they are neither “free Persons” nor “Indians not taxed”, but you believe they are Constitutional ‘Persons’ of some kind, then they must be among the remaining category described as “all other Persons”! That’s all that’s left! And that last catch-all category of ‘Persons’ requires that if corporations/companies are in that category, they must each be counted as three-fifths of a ‘Person’ for purposes of apportioning Congress. Take your choice. If a corporation is a Constitutional ‘Person’, then it must be in one of those three categories. “All other Persons” doesn’t leave any room at all for corporations to be ‘Persons’ in some other category that the Constitution somehow failed to name. If we dismiss the ridiculous idea that corporations/companies were “Indians not taxed”, beginning back in 1789, then it was Constitutionally mandated that they be counted for purposes of apportioning Congressional representation – UNLESS those who ratified the U.S. Constitution never even had the slightest thought or intention that artificial entities such as companies/corporations were ‘Persons’ in the meaning of the Constitution, after all.
Do you think that since Article I Section 2 paragraph 3 was changed by the 14th Amendment, that it was the 14th Amendment itself that created Constitutional rights for corporations? Not a chance. Read Section 2 of the 14th Amendment. The proportional apportionment of Representatives in Congress was changed by this Amendment, and has been done every ten years, beginning in 1870, through the present, by simply “counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed”. The last “Indian not taxed” (along with a lot of other Indians) was exterminated by the cavalry and other related violence and destruction and policy enactments a long, long time ago. And it’s far too great a stretch to convince even the most daft that a corporation is an “Indian not taxed”. So corporations were obviously not, and never have been considered to be Constitutional ‘persons’ by those who ratified and then put into practice Section 2 of the 14th Amendment over the last 14 decades of Congressional apportionment. Corporations have never been counted as ‘persons’ for apportioning Congress, either during the 80 years before, or during the 140 years after, the 14th Amendment was ratified, despite the clear Constitutional mandate (applied like clockwork every single decade, under direct Congressional supervision, and watched closely through the centuries by the U.S. Supreme Court and many other erudite observers) to count “the whole number of persons in each state”. (The “whole number of persons” means every single ‘person’ does it not?) Unless these artificial legal entities are, and always have been “Indians not taxed”, we the people are forced to conclude that they are NOT ‘persons’ in the meaning of either the 14th Amendment or the original text of the Constitution (or any other Amendment, for that matter).
The Supreme Court explicitly, and for the official record, declined to decide the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company case on Constitutional grounds. However, the published preface to the case (authored by a court clerk, who happened to be a railroad company president), which is intended to be for the convenience of readers, and which cannot establish a legal precedent, asserted, in blatant, direct contradiction of the unanimous official “Opinion of the Court” (authored by Justice Harlan), that “… corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the 14th Amendment which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. That fraud and deceit contained in the preface penned by the clerk has been subsequently exploited and, with undeniably fraudulent intent, declared to establish a legal constitutional precedent.
In Part 1 of this argument, I cited Article IV section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as conclusive proof that the Founders did not consider anything other than a human being to be a ‘Person’, and I referenced the context of the word ‘Person’ elsewhere throughout the Constitution and the Amendments. Similarly, considering the context, and the use and meaning, of the word ‘person’ everywhere else in the 14th Amendment, it is not possible to justify an assertion that the word ‘person’ (as used in the third clause of the last sentence of section 2) was meant, by common understanding, or by those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment, to include corporations.
The 14th Amendment defined how a ‘person’ could be or become a citizen, it prohibited any state from depriving “any person of life … without due process of law”, it described certain attributes of a ‘person’ who could not become an officer of the United States or its constituent states, and it revised how ‘persons’ were to be counted by the Constitutionally mandated Census every ten years, in order to apportion taxes and representation in Congress. The Founders of the Constitution and also those who ratified the 14th Amendment, most certainly did not intend for entities such as corporations to be eligible to become citizens or Senators, and it is patently nonsense to protect a non-living, non-biological entity from being deprived of “life”.
Significantly, with regards to the Census, the Founders who wrote and ratified paragraph 3 of Article I, Section 2; and also those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment, explicitly excluded or singled out for ‘special treatment’, certain categories of ‘Persons’ in defining the enumeration and the consequent apportionment of Representatives in Congress. They explicitly singled out certain human beings to not be counted, or to be fractionally counted but they never named (for exclusion from the enumeration) any legal entities that were not living human beings. Yet corporations (and their predecessors) have never been counted as ‘persons’ by the official Census, which is mandated by the Constitution, and directed by the Congress. And none of the people who actually wrote or ratified our Constitution in the 18th century, or the 14th Amendment in the 19th century (and no one else during the last 220 years) has ever objected to the fact that never has a single corporation been counted as a ‘person’ to apportion representation in Congress.
The meaning of a key word does not change from one sentence to the next in the Constitution – or from one clause to the next, within the same sentence! The Supreme Court has ignored this (and other basic principles of language), has contradicted the Constitution itself, and has disdained the bedrock foundation of government that is of, by, and for the people. That foundation is that the people are sovereign. In trying to build an illegitimate edifice of corporate law on the 14th Amendment, corporate sycophants and adherents of this bogus legal theory must clumsily change horses repeatedly in the middle of a crystal clear, democracy-empowering stream of sequential sentences all employing the word “person”. After entering this stream in the first sentence of section 1 (where a ‘person’ can obviously be nothing other than a living, breathing human being, and the qualification of a ‘person’ to become a ‘citizen’ is defined) and continuing on the same horse through the second clause in the second sentence of section 1 (in which the deprivation by any state of the inalienable human rights of “life” and “liberty” without due process becomes prohibited, just as such deprivation of human rights by the federal government had previously been explicitly prohibited in the 5th Amendment), the scheming clerk and his crooked heirs fraudulently declare that the Supreme Court abruptly, and for no good reason, changes the definition of ‘person’ (to magically include corporations) in the third clause of the second sentence of Section 1, where that distorted definition is promptly thrown out of the saddle in mid-stream by the sentence which immediately follows – the opening sentence of section 2, which mandates and defines explicitly the counting of “persons” for the purpose of apportioning representation of the people in Congress. No wonder that the Supreme Court never wanted to (and never did!) actually publish judicial opinions and rulings to examine and establish, for the official record, that “a corporation is (or is not) a person” in the meaning and intent of the U.S. Constitution! An open, rigorous, but simple examination could only find that a corporation is not a ‘person’ in the meaning of the Constitution. The clerk committed the initial, enabling fraud. But the fraud did not become evident or become fully consummated on that occasion, though the treacherous, bad seed was planted. The impeachable judicial coup-d’etat has been committed and extended whenever succeeding Supreme Court Justices have applied and built upon the unjustifiable legal premise that a corporation has the Constitutional rights of a person, by citing, or building upon, that clerk’s 1886 outright lie.
The Constitution itself, and its Amendments were clearly never intended to provide the status of a ‘person’ to a non-living legal entity such as a corporation. Either that is true, or we must conclude that the Constitution has been blatantly and systematically violated, and our Congress itself has been illegally constituted from the very beginning of the republic, and continuously so, right up to the present. Any honest, thoughtful, informed person must conclude that the Supreme Court precedent that a corporation is a ‘person’ under the Constitution (which was summarily asserted with neither justification nor authority in 1886) is absolutely wrong.
The 14th Amendment did not extend to corporations the important Constitutional rights specified there for any ‘person’. Every use of the word ‘person’ in that Amendment (including in the sentences immediately preceding and immediately following the sentence containing the equal protection clause, and even in another clause in the very same sentence) can only be construed as referring to simply nothing more and nothing less than a human being that has been born but not yet died – and most definitely does not apply to a non-living legal abstraction such as a corporation. Establishing the simple truth – that a corporation has never legitimately possessed the rights that were defined by the Constitution for a ‘person’ - does not mean that a corporation cannot exist, or that it cannot be privileged or empowered by authorities other than the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court. It simply means that the U.S. Constitution itself does not guarantee or provide those rights to corporations.
And that is the essential and critical point at issue today. If corporations continue to be granted by the Supreme Court the rights that are defined by the U.S. Constitution for a ‘person’ or ‘the people’ then corporations will continue to increasingly control all three branches of our government, at the federal, state, and municipal levels, and both currently permitted major political parties. We will not have, nor will we be able to regain a government that is of, by, and for the people, unless and until we establish clearly and finally that a Corporation is NOT a Person, as far as Constitutional rights are concerned.
See Part 1 of this 2 part argument.
Other essays spotlighting this problem and its consequences.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment to establish beyond doubt that a corporation is not a person in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, that money is not equivalent to speech in the meaning of the First Amendment, and to protect certain rights of the people in the Constitution.